After being diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer only early last month, he suffered serious breathing difficulties at about 5am last Thursday morning (Nov 29) and was rushed to hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival.
He was 47, and is survived by his wife, Marisa, and eight-year-old son, Joshua.
Funeral services were held at Wat Saensuk in Phuket Town for three nights, with mass prayers each night, culminating with his cremation on Monday (Dec 3).
After joining The Phuket News team as a News Editor three years ago, Matthew, an avid Crystal Palace supporter from Croydon, London, also took on the role of Sports Editor, in which his love and support for all forms of sport shone.
He soon became known widely for his passionate support for sports, especially football, leading to his involvement in supporting projects with the M-Den Football Academy and Cruzeiro Soccer Schools, and especially in driving support for Phuket FC, the island’s only football club at national level – and which is now defunct.
While maintaining a strong commitment to his work, Matthew was also a shining example of a family man, a good father who spent valuable time with his son Joshua at football training sessions and tournaments on the island, and arranged family holidays at every opportunity.
Wherever he went, Matthew fostered a genuine sense of community among those he met, from all walks of life on the island. (See the Editorial ‘A Testament to Life’ in the current issue The Phuket News).
Tributes have flowed online since news of his passing broke across social media.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure,” wrote one friend.
“We have lost a true gentleman and consummate professional. Go in peace, Matt,” wrote Alasdair Forbes, former Executive Editor at The Phuket News.
In his tribute to Matthew posted online this week, Steven Layne, former Managing Editor of The Phuket News wrote, “Usually squinting if not smiling and rarely showing emotion beyond that, Matt had an unbreakable focus on the pitch, and could offer commentary and critique on every pass, play and player.
“He never missed a beat, and clearly loved his football. Rain or shine, win or lose, promotion or relegation, Matt was always there in the east stands toughing it out with the toughest of them.
“Matt’s passion and loyalty, for and to the home team, and his family and final home, Phuket, was contagious.”
Even off the pitch Matt’s approach to life was unshakable.
“Matt proved to be the most loyal and dependable colleague one could ask for. Not only football, he had a knack for all sport on the island, and it wasn’t long before he was effectively running the news desk with deep insight into issues affecting island life. He certainly was a passionate and creative critic when it came to his round to write editorials; it was hard to find flaws in his reasoning because he truly did understand the nature and motives of the people here and those around him,” Steven Layne wrote.
“A family man, humble and down-to-earth gentleman with an eclectic taste in music, Matt will be sorely missed by friends, colleagues and family. Our hearts go out to his surviving wife, Marisa, and young son, Joshua, who himself is a talented footballer playing for a local academy club.”
Beyond football, Neil Quail and fellow cricketers at Phuket’s Alan Cooke Ground mourned Matt’s passing. “A true sports fan and fully aware of his devotion to his family,” wrote Neil.
Formoula One correspondent Michael Lamonato wrote, “Heartbroken to hear this. Condolences to Marisa, Josh, family and friends. Vale.”
Old-time friends near and far all marked Matt’s unassuming, positive influence on their lives.
Ashley Heath wrote, “Today, as you are laid to rest, I think of how you enriched my life & the sweet memories you've left me with. Wild nights out, crazy nights in, lazy summer days, those memories are endless, thank you for all you have given us… Marisa Sirirat Pond, Josh, Barb & John may you find strength and solace knowing how much we cherished Matt & that his beautiful soul touched us so deeply.”
Simon Bray wrote, “Matt Pond you will be greatly missed. A true gentleman who always went out of his way to help and support others. Our thoughts are with your family at this time.”
Sean Mccole, noted, “Dear Marissa, I was deeply shocked and saddened by Matts sudden passing..
I can only imagine how you , Josh and the rest of his family feel… I knew Matt over 20 years and he was a real gent. My heartfelt condolences to you all.”
Delhi Catherine Ruiz Arnsby posted to Matt’s family, “Just want to let you know that even though we have never met in person, you are always welcome and that you are part of our family. Sending you our condolence and lots of love. We will always love you, Matthew – Debbie and Jorge from Spain.”
Matthew’s sudden passing has taken an emotional toll on the staff at The Phuket News and everyone else who knew him well.
To Marisa, Joshua and Matthew’s parents, our heartfelt condolences from the The Phuket News team and everyone else here at Class Act Media.
Farewell, Matt. We miss you.