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   Obituary - Peter Simpson


Peter Donald Simpson

House: Scott
Years: 1955-1958

Webmaster (Steve Le Feuvre) received an e-mail from Sylvia Skiba (Peter's wife) on Wed 14th November 2018, informing him that Peter had passed away during the early hours of that morning. After an exchange of e-mails, Steve published the following on the OCS web site and also the OCS(UK) Facebook page:


R.I.P. - PETER DONALD SIMPSON (Scott 1955-1958)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter Simpson on 14th November 2018, after a courageous battle with cancer.


Peter was Secretary of the Old Cambrian Society (UK Branch) from 1966 to 2002, and did a fabulous job throughout those 36 years, keeping the membership together and in contact by arranging annual gatherings and regular newsletters by post. There were many memorable events including his “pièce de résistance” which was the 2001 OCS Annual Dinner held in the salubrious surroundings of the House of Lords.

Details of Peter’s funeral:
Date: Wednesday 5th December 2018
Time: 2.15 pm
Funeral: Easthampstead Park Crematorium, South Road, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham RG40 3DW
Afterwards: Easthampstead Park Conference Centre, Off Peacock Lane, Wokingham RG40 3DB

It is envisaged that a good number of Old Cambrians will be there to give Peter a good send-off. Dress code is informal, and members are requested to where their OCS ties if they so wish.

The Old Cambrian Society wishes to extend its deepest sympathy and support to Sylvia and all of the family at this difficult time.
A full obituary will be published on the OCS web site in due course.


Tribute from Keith Aikin (Clive 1954-1958) - Chairman, Old Cambrian Society (UK Branch) 1961 to present:

I was at the Prince of Wales School at the same time as Peter. Although we both lived in Mombasa, I knew him only vaguely and we were in different year groups and different boarding houses. It was only when we met up in London during the period 1959 to 1961, when a few of us decided to found the Old Cambrian Society (UK) with me as Chairman and Peter as Secretary a few years later, that I got to know him a little better, albeit on a once a year basis.


I felt that from that time on Peter was the beating heart of the Old Cambrians in the U.K., showing his deep love for the Prince of Wales School and its "old boys" by organising our annual dinners in London every year from 1961 to 2002. He compiled a list of names and addresses of known Old Cambrians resident in the U.K., arranged the date and venue for each annual reunion dinner, and one must remember that during that time there was no internet and e-mail, so everything was done by good old-fashioned letter and the postal system. He communicated with great efficiency to members and then, with his partner Sylvia's help, hosted our reunions at The Feathers in Fleet Street, then the Angus Steak House in the Aldwych, then the Thistle Hotel in Ladbroke Grove, culminating in the fabulous 2001 reunion dinner in the House of Lords, which he organised with Old Cambrian Lord Steel of Aikwood, David Steel (Fletcher/Scott 1950-1953).


Peter always informed me, his Chairman, of the date and venue, but he did all the hard work in organising the event and ensuring that all of us were most welcome. His good humour and cheerfulness were essential ingredients in the man I knew and it was Peter, who more than anyone else, who kept us going for all those many years. Thanks to him, the Old Cambrian Society (UK) is alive, well and flourishing.


We shall all miss him greatly.


Tribute from Steve Le Feuvre (Clive 1970-1975) - Secretary, Old Cambrian Society (UK Branch) 2002 to present:

I will never forget the first time I met Peter at the first OCS(UK) dinner I attended during the mid-1990s. I was greeted at the door by Sylvia who gave me a name badge. I then met Peter who previously I had only spoken to on the phone, and his very first words to me were: "Rabble, the bar's over there, and mine's a pint!!" I will never forget that.


Peter was the life and soul of the Old Cambrian Society, and some of his introductory speeches were classics. He was a great orator with his own special style, and some of the language could be "interesting" should I say. He felt passionately about our old school, and gave us recollections of his experiences whilst there in graphic terms, no beating about the bush, we got it as it was!!


Peter and Sylvia organised a fabulous evening on 23rd April 2001 at the House of Lords, an event kindly sponsored by Old Cambrian, the Rt Hon the Lord Steel of Aikwood KBE DL. There were over 100 Old Cambrians and guests at the event, and it certainly ranks up there with one of the most memorable events that I have ever attended. Superbly organised, it ran like clock-work, but of course having dinner in the Palace of Westminster made it very special.


The following year, 2002, the dinner was in the Albion Room at The Thistle Hotel Bloomsbury, and over 60 people attended. During his welcome speech, Peter announced that after 36 years he had decided to "retire" from the role of Secretary. Peter then focussed his attention on Table 1 which contained six "old boys" and a teacher who had been at the school in the late 60s and 70s, and in the persuasive way that only Peter could get away with, he said "you rabble over there, you have until the end of the dinner to choose who is going to take over as Secretary". He then said that the role came with three conditions: 1) You continue to organise an annual dinner in London during April, 2) In January you inform all members on the mailing list of details of the dinner, and 3) Some of us oldies over here have heard about web sites, and we want one to be set up for the Old Cambrian Society so that all the photos we have between us from our days at the school, can be displayed for the whole world to see. Then with no further a do, he sat down. At the end of the dinner, Peter rose to address us all, and at the end of his short talk, he asked if Table 1 had decided who was being put forward as the next Secretary, and everyone looked at me. Don't let anyone tell you that true democracy does not exist in the UK branch of the Old Cambrian Society!!


Peter continued to attend all our events over the next 15 years, with his last reunion being the April 2017 lunch at the Royal Air Force Club. He had booked to attend the 2018 lunch, but the timing of his cancer treatment meant that he had to cancel at short notice.


I, like many other Old Cambrians, will always remember Peter as an extremely lovable old rouge, and that theme certainly came through from the many memories that were shared at his funeral which I was privileged to attend on the 5th December 2018 in Wokingham. Easthampstead Park Crematorium was packed to the rafters for his send-off, with people standing outside in the rain to pay their last respects to this great man. Peter had worked for British Airways for many years, so there were many there who had worked with him during that time. Peter was a very active Freemason, so there were many there from his Lodge and from others around the south of England. Lots of family members and friends were there all with their own amusing stories of Peter. And, of course, there were around a dozen Old Cambrians there to say goodbye to the man that truly was the glue that kept our society together for well over 50 years.


We will all miss Peter in our own way, but on behalf of the Old Cambrian Society (UK Branch) I would like to express my condolences to Sylvia (who contributed immensely over the years in the running of our dinners) and to the rest of Peter's family.


Tribute from Neville Watson (Scott 1953-1959)

I first met and got to know Pete in Scott's Middle Dormitory when we were allocated adjacent beds, and we developed a friendship that lasted until he died in November, 2018. During all those years, Pete invariably answered my telephone calls with the words, " Watson N.D., what can I do for you?".  

Pete's achievements at school were perhaps relative modest; this did not always endear him to our highly competitive housemaster, Storky Chadwick. 

Academically  he never featured at the top of the class, and often he used to say to me, with a certain satisfaction because he might have irked Storky, that he was the only Scott boy to have gained good School Certificate grades in Woodwork, Metalwork and Technical Drawing and nothing else ! Not true, I'm sure! 

His athletic prowess was hampered by the fact the he had had to undergo surgery for mastoids, which precluded him from playing any contact sports; that also meant that he was not allowed to participate in swimming activities on medical grounds.( And I am sure we all remember the importance of points for "standards"). 

Nonetheless Pete was able to take up and enjoy athletics, and he won the Inter-House A2 220 yard sprint for his year. 

Pete  enjoyed being in the CCF and was an excellent 0.22 shot. In later years he was allowed to claim honorary membership of the Kenya Regiment Association (UK), and attend the annual curry lunch reunions held at the Gurka Mess in Winchester. (John Davis, ex- Grigg , was Hon. Secretary of the Association for many years.)

Away from school, Pete would play a mean game of snooker, and that was when I  think  he learnt to enjoy the pleasures of "Crown Bird" and "Four Aces".  

When Pete came down to Dar-es Salaam on school holiday, several of us PoW-ers would gather at the "Cosy Cafe", which was managed by Mrs. Simpson, and where we would try to scrounge for free the best samosas in town. Neither Mrs Simpson nor Pete would have any of that!

Poker was another of his passions. 

During his three years at PoW, Pete developed friendships that lasted until his death, and it was no suprise to me to see a number of those friends at his funeral.  

Pete left school before he could be made up to a house prefect, and I lost contact with him for a couple of years until I met him again in London in the early '60's at one of the Feathers' Reunions. True to form, in his capacity as Secretary of the OC's he "appointed" me Treasurer, a function I performed for several years until I was posted abroad by my employer. "Fritz" Goldsmith took over from me, and Ian Beatty (ex Clive 1959, and now deceased) took over from him.  

In the late '60's Pete and his family moved from London to Woking, and his children and mine became playmates. Initially Pete continued to work in the motor trade, but eventually he moved to British Airways in Customer Services, where he remained for more than 30 years. This was a job he loved, and he became well known in the airline as one of Heathrow's great characters, an factor that was very much in evidence at his funeral and confirmed by the large number of current and ex members of BA staff who attended. 

Throughout his time in the UK Pete actively participated in the Freemasons, and he rose steadily up the ranks. For many years he would host  a garden party at his home to raise money for charity, and it was only towards the end that he stopped hosting such events. 

During all the years I was abroad I would always take the opportunity when on home leave to visit Pete, and I would inevitably find friends from his many activities sitting in his kitchen drinking coffee and having a natter. Pete enjoyed the company of others, and was always at the centre of the gathering. 

Throughout his life, in addition to the OC's ,Pete maintained his overseas connections, and made full use of BA staff discount arrangements to travel each year to Israel to see OC Tommy Joseph (now  deceased ), his daughter who lives in mid west USA, and  back to Dar-es-Salaam, where his father had been stationed in the 1950's.  

With his proximity to Heathrow and his BA. connections, a number of Old Cambrians would  stay overnight with Pete and Sylvia, and then get a lift to the airport.  

For the past ten years I have lived in retirement in Winchester, and every 4 to 6 weeks until he became too ill, Pete and Sylvia would join us for lunch, either in the Bisley area, or in Winchester. We would often talk over old times, and it was very clear to me that  Pete was very proud of his Old Cambrian past. Sylvia, too, with a Kenya heritage, was always supportive of him, and as has been said elsewhere in one of Pete's other obituaries, undertook a lot of the reunion correspondence pre the e- mail and internet era.   

Pete accepted his lot full on when he was told he was terminally ill, and never showed any sign of fear. His main concern was "to get it over with". Throughout his last months he was constantly supported by Sylvia, and he had a regular stream of visitors to his sick bed. He did not suffer, and he remained lucid almost until the end.

We OC's of the 1950's and earlier are now at the age when the Grim Reaper is a constant companion. Pete would have been 78 in May, 2019. He had enjoyed a good and useful life and until the last couple of years  enjoyed good health. All of us who knew him benefitted from his presence, warts and all. 

Pete, your final wish was that your funeral should be a celebration, and not be a sad occasion. It was and the two eulogies were rightly applauded to the rafters. I think son Robert's final words to his father at the service , "Dad, you still owe me £50 for that last game of poker" were classic. Well done, Robert.

Pete, you are, and will be, sorely missed. 




Peter's Alumni entry prior to his passing was:

Peter Donald Simpson
House: Scott
Years: 1955-1958

In 1959 moved to the UK, worked as a coffee trader and then became a car salesman/manager. In 1976 joined British Airways and, believe it or not, am still there.

Have been Secretary of the Old Cambrian Society (UK Branch) for 36 years and on 12th April 2002 I handed over the 'job' to Steve Le Feuvre, who is much younger and more capable!!

(Registered - 12th August 2002)