Scholarship named after extraordinary woman’
An “extraordinary” woman whose court case set a new standard for compensation of accident victims is to be remembered with a scholarship in her name.
Eleanor Simmons, who died on December 21 at age 83, lost the use of her right arm in a devastating 1978 crash, but was undeterred as a single mother looking after herself and her family of five.
Her funeral today at the West End will be used by her family to raise funds for an award as tribute to her fighting spirit and charitable personality.
Ms Simmons, originally a traffic warden, was known to many through her service as the Government switchboard operator for 21 years.
Her daughter, Deeanda Bannister, said her mother was an example of someone with “a handicap and with pain who never complained about it”.
She said that with just one arm, Ms Simmons peeled potatoes, cooked lavish meals for guests, hung out washing on her line, and loved to swim.
A lifelong Sandys resident, Ms Simmons kept her own house on Hog Bay Level “immaculate” and only began to need her children’s help last year.
She sewed her own pillowcases, painted the house’s interior herself, and was “not a person who wanted people to feel sorry for her”.
The scholarship in her memory will reflect her philanthropic spirit, Ms Bannister added.
“She loved to bake sugar cookies, rolling them with one hand, and she would give them away for any charity or bake sale — she thought nothing of it.
“She loved to give to others through her infirmity, which we found phenomenal.
“We would like the scholarship to have perpetual meaning — the recipient’s criteria should be to have financial need and to have done community service.”
The memorial service at Fort Scaur in Sandys at 10am will be followed by a sea burial to reflect her love of the ocean.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the educational fund of the charity Phenomenal People, run by her daughter, Margaret Giloth.
Ms Simmons had three other children: Stanley Simmons, Bryan Simmons and the late Alfred Simmons. In 1978, Ms Simmons was knocked off the road by a car as she road her motorcycle near Mangrove Bay.
The limb never functioned again. The other driver was uninsured, and Ms Simmons’s 11-year fight for compensation ended at the Privy Council in 1987.
The council ruled that insurers should pay less than a quarter of the $100,000 agreed damages — but it was a landmark nonetheless, according to Trevor Moniz, her lawyer. Mr Moniz, an Opposition MP, called her a “lovely, very deserving person” and said he had taken her case pro bono.
Mr Moniz said: “We lost the case, but out of it the Motor Insurance Fund was created in 1990. It provides compensation for people injured in accidents where the person who caused the accident was uninsured.”
Mr Moniz said Ms Simmons’s case “provided impetus to deal with this issue and bring Bermuda into modern times”.