28.05.1971 – 26.12.2004

Piers and Luke Simon were very close brothers, three years and two months apart. They grew up on a family farm in Somerset and enjoyed the farm land and many sports. Post university, they worked together designing gardens until Luke embarked on a year of travel in 2003. During this trip, he secured a job teaching sport at an international School in northern Thailand.

On 26th December 2004, whilst on holiday with his brother Luke and three friends, Piers was tragically killed in the Indian Ocean Tsunami on the Island of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.

Luke spent five days conducting the search for his brother along with help from family, friends and the media until they finally found Piers at 12.26pm on the 31st December 2004.

Piers was body number 348.

Piers Simon
Learn about Luke and Piers’ relationship and, Luke’s account of the Indian Ocean 2004 Tsunami.
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One Thai girl who helped Luke for three hours in his search for Piers had lost 20 members of her own family.

Piers and Luke flew home on the same flight on January 2nd 2005. The Simon family opened a donation account on January 4th 2005.
A donation appeal launched at Piers’ memorial service on January 18th at Forde Abbey raised £10,000.


As the donation appeal gained impressive momentum and funds were being wired to assist in the clean up of Koh Phi Phi, it was unanimously decided to turn the appeal in to a charity. The Piers Simon Appeal (PSA) was granted it’s charity number on May 17th 2005

For the next four and a half years the PSA provided funds to disaster victims in 13 countries

Piers Simon Appeal Website

If losing Piers changed our lives for the first time, the project in Swaziland changed our lives for the second time as it brought School in a Bag in to our lives.

Celia and Henry Simon, Parents of Piers Simon, Trustees of the Piers Simon Appeal


In November 2008 the Piers Simon Appeal (PSA) were invited to join the disaster relief charity ShelterBox
in a joint project to send school equipment out to orphan children in Swaziland, Africa. The Piers Simon Appeal committed £50,000 towards the project.

The solution was to fill a rucksack with stationery and stainless steal eating utensils and in March 2009, the process of packing the 32,000 bags for children at 350 schools took place at the ShelterBox warehouse in Helston, Cornwall. (NB: The cost of each SchoolBag was £5.00).

The bags were shipped to Swaziland and distributed by NERCHA. In June 2009 Henry, Celia and Luke Simon visited Swaziland with four ShelterBox representatives to help with the distribution of the bags at four schools. The 5-day trip had a very strong impact emotionally on Henry, Celia and Luke. From the outset of forming the Piers Simon Appeal, helping children and enhancing education was always on of the charity objectives and these simple rucksacks filled with basic contents presented an opportunity to pursue the idea further. One week after their return, Luke packed away his garden design office, transformed it into the Piers Simon Appeal and coined the phrase ‘School in a Bag’. He made a decision that the first ‘SchoolBags’ would be red in colour.

Henry and Celia Simon


The first School in a Bag film showcasing the educational plight of the children in Swaziland and Sierra Leone who received the first SchoolBags.

Through the fundraising of four local schools and PSA funds, the first 400 ‘SchoolBags’ were sent to two orphanages in Sierra Leone. School in a Bag had impetus and actively sought partners around the world to support, drawing on the contacts fostered from their disaster relief work. The second consignment was earmarked for Sri Lanka in association with Yala Fund, also born out of the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

By January 2011, with a handful of successful SchoolBag distributions under their belt, the board of the PSA unilaterally decided to make School in a Bag its own brand to give it its own identity and provide it with the capacity to grow beyond the catchment area of the PSA.

School in a Bag logo

In 2019, due to the size the charity had become, the trustees were advised to make School in a Bag a standalone charity. The Piers Simon Appeal is still in operation with Henry and Celia Simon still acting as trustees.