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).
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!!
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!!
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
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
Tribute from Neville Watson (Scott 1953-1959)
Peter Donald Simpson
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
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)