Last year, all at Thornhill Memorials were honoured when our branch in Cardiff were contacted by the family of Simon Hill-Williams regarding the creation of an extremely unique memorial.
Simon was an avid fan and collector of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
The result was a large and beautifully unique headstone unveiled on his 23rd birthday, December 31st, 2021, that has been crafted in the design of a Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card – so that Simon, also known as “The Tricksterking” to friends and family, could become a card himself.
What is Yu-Gi-Oh!…?
For those unfamiliar, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a Japanese manga and anime series with a connected trading card game, named “Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game”, and a “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters” video game – all have a huge worldwide following.
“Yū-Gi-Ō!” (Japanese) translates to “King of James” (English).
The Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was first released in 1996, followed by the anime series first airing in 1998, and the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game launched in Japan in 1999 – just a matter of months after Simon was born.
As of January 2021, it was estimated that around 35 billion cards had been sold worldwide.
Simon began collecting Yu-Gi-Oh! cards at a very young age.
Packs of the cards were often a go-to Christmas and birthday gift from his sister, Charlotte, as she knew she couldn’t go wrong when gifting them.
A Bespoke Headstone to Reflect Simon’s Passion
When Charlotte reached out to Tim, our Thornhill Memorials branch manager, and raised the idea of the family wanting to honour Simon with a headstone in the style of his Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card passion, we knew it would be a challenge, but we were excited with the opportunity to create a memorial so unique and so meaningful.
The family sent us some examples of Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, along with an example of Simon’s very own card that had been designed by Charlotte, with help from their father, Nik, and Simon’s friends, along with the nod of approval from mother, Virginia.
This was so that our memorial designer, Mike Cartlidge, and team of stonemasons could view the style of the cards and decide if replicating the design into a headstone for Simon was something that could be achieved.
Mike was able to use his skills to transfer the concept of Simon’s very own Yu-Gi-Oh! card into a wonderfully unique headstone design.
It was decided that red granite would be the material of choice as this stone colour and pattern best matched the card design.
From here, our memorial stonemasons were able to take over and skilfully craft the design into a finished headstone.
To make things extra special, the family were pleased to discover that the red granite material we use to create our memorials is sourced from Egypt as the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game also has its roots in Ancient Egypt.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Examples
The Design of Simon’s Very Own Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card
Simon’s Finished Headstone
Simon’s family and friends were thrilled with the finished headstone, and all agree that it represents Simon and one of the things he most enjoyed in life in the most fitting way.
Fighting Cancer, Not Defending Against It
In April 2021, Simon lost his battle against cancer, but his character and determination meant he naturally put up his greatest fight.
Charlotte highlighted the fact that Simon was someone who was very literal, and this is something that the Yu-Gi-Oh! community picked up on, given Simon’s distribution of special attributes on his card and headstone displaying:
ATK / 5000 DEF / 0
These special attributes indicate a high level of attack, as he fought cancer with everything he had, while the zero defense indicates that he had no way of defending himself and this ultimately resulted in him losing the battle. Simon was fighting cancer, not defending against it.
Simon’s family and friends also wanted to highlight the fact that people like Simon are very hard to come by – this is why they decided his card simply had to be a rare First Edition.
“Come now, it’s not polite to leave… without saying goodbye”
The above quote was embossed on Simon’s headstone and was taken from Jack of Blades, one of the main characters from Fable – another of his favourite games.
Other references are also included that have significant meaning to his family and friends, all while in keeping with the original card design.
The image of Simon that has been used on the headstone is also very special to the family. Simon underwent months of chemotherapy during his battle which resulted in the loss of his hair, but in this image it had started to regrow. The image is actually a video still from the very first time he held his nephew and became a proud uncle.
Some of the Details and Personal References
Appreciation Among the Yu-Gi-Oh! Online Community
In early 2022, Virginia shared the passing of Simon along with his new headstone to a legion of Yu-Gi-Oh! anime fans in a Facebook group.
To say Simon, his passion, and his unique headstone garnered some well wishes from the community would be an understatement.
His story and tribute was greatly appreciated and respected, with Virginia’s original Facebook post being shared thousands of times across the world over all social media channels, several anime and gaming related websites reciting Simon’s story, and heaps of Reddit users paying tribute in Yu-Gi-Oh! subreddit forums.
Above is screenshot of the original Facebook post by Virginia, Simon’s mother, which first gained attention and well-wishes from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime Fans Facebook group.
Below is a screenshot of one tribute tweet in particular posted by @House_of_Champs on Twitter which had received over 62k Retweets and almost 500k Like’s at time of writing.
And below is an Instagram post by @modernnotoriety about Simon and his Yu-Gi-Oh! headstone.
If you’d like to read through tributes, online publications and forum discussions about Simon and his unique headstone, you can do so at some of the following links:
Mirror Media (Chinese): https://www.mirrormedia.mg/story/20220104edi027/
Cultura Colectiva (Spanish): https://culturacolectiva.com/entretenimiento/yu-gi-oh-lapida-anime
IndoGamers (Indonesian): https://indogamers.id/meninggal-karena-kanker-keluarga-berikan-batu-nisan-kartu-yu-gi-oh/