Obituary: Tributes paid to Whitby Grammar School pupil who met the Beatles

Barbara Simpson meets the Beatles
Barbara Simpson meets the Beatles

Barbara Simpson (nee Jackson), a former Whitby Grammar School pupil and business owner who was very much involved in the local community, has passed away aged 75, at Downham in Essex.

She has been described as a very active and creative multi-talented charity campaigner and much-liked character, with great sense of humour and quick wit.

Barbara Simpson with her father-in-law Leslie Simpson, dressed in their role for one of the many nautical events celebrated on the east side of Whitby.

Barbara Simpson with her father-in-law Leslie Simpson, dressed in their role for one of the many nautical events celebrated on the east side of Whitby.

Barbara was born in 1942 in Wakefield, daughter of Edith and Alan Blakely Jackson.

In her early teens, the family relocated to Whitby and were involved in the catering business providing many thousands of tourists with their fish and chips from their premises in Angel Yard, next to The Angel Hotel.

Her studies at Whitby Grammar School won her a place at Leicester College of Art and Technology, where she excelled in her chosen subjects of Fashion Foundation and Lingerie Design, Corset Fitting and Surgical and Orthopaedic Support fitting.

It was not all hard work and no play at Leicester, as Barbara made time and started in earnest with her charity works by being the chairman of the local Rag (Fiesta) Committee, part of which entailed organising and booking music concerts for major groups at the time such as The Beatles and The Kinks (not tribute bands), Blues Singer Sonny Boy Williamson and others in 1965/6.

This was all to raise funds for local charities.

The completion of her courses resulted in her being awarded Diplomas with Distinction and Certificates of Merit, which soon saw her being offered employment with the High Fashion Manufacturers Kayser Bondor at Nottingham as one of their senior design team.

This was followed by a move to GR Curtis Ltd in Littlehampton, where Barbara was chief of design, prototype workshop and production scheduling for this high volume supplier of Lingerie, some of her individual designs being adopted directly for production by large concerns such as Marks and Spencer.

Barbara returned to living in Whitby in the early 1970s to join with her mother in developing a project for a Coffee House and Tea Rooms – Monks Haven in Church Street – which they ran for many years with great success and reputation.

During her tenure Barbara also was a very active fund raiser for the RNLI, together with her in-laws Leslie and Rita Simpson, working also in the Civic Society and establishing the East Side Traders’ Association which saw the beginning of Street markets and carnivals, that continue in various forms today.

In 1980, Barbara married long time local boyfriend Jeff Simpson, who had been one of her group of local friends.

Jeff had completed an Engineering Apprenticeship in Rugby, followed by permanent employment at Ford Motor Company in Essex, which saw him travelling to many countries as one of their Senior Design and Investment Planning Engineers.

Barbara and her mother relocated to Essex when her mother’s health started to deteriorate, to be with Jeff in the family home. Barbara was carer to her mother for many years but also got involved in the community of the rural village of Downham, applying her arts and crafts expertise to produce many practical items for donation to local charities.

Barbara and Jeff had been looking to move back to Sleights and had made many visits to view properties but when the long journeys became too difficult the search became less practical for her.

Barbara has been buried with her mother in Downham Churchyard.

She is survived by Jeff, 72 and her elder brother Bernard, nephew and nieces and their families.