Obituary: Tony Simpson

Tony Simpson in his younger years. Photo supplied by his family.

Tony Simpson in his younger years. Photo supplied by his family. - Credit: Archant

Harley Anthony Simpson, was born in Brecon and attended Brecon Grammar School for Boys before leaving school at 16 – to work in the town’s tax office.

Tony Simpson, who was the face of Honiton’s Senior Voice movement, has died aged 76.

Harley Anthony Simpson, was born in Brecon and attended Brecon Grammar School for Boys before leaving school at 16 – to work in the town’s tax office.

As a union member, Tony attended classes by the Workers Education Association, and at this time became involved in local politics, helping Tudor Watkins become Labour MP for Brecon.

He studied at the Coleg Harlech - with the help of a grant from the Quakers – and this is where, in January 1961, he where he met his wife to be for 52 years, Edna.

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Tony went on to study economics at Swansea University and married Edna in 1965 - in her hometown of Chepstow.

Tony was a lifelong campaigner, and participated in some high profile protests including in 1958, with Bertrand Russell outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

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He completed many Aldermaston marches to Hyde Park in the 1960s – a march of 52 miles, all done with his beloved Edna.

In 1964, Tony visited the then East Berlin – the other side of the wall – to promote international East West co-operation.

He flew to Germany in a Douglas Dakota; his son Owen reminisces: “I remember him telling me how scared he was at the noise of the aircraft and the required quick descent required into the communist East Berlin.”

Tony campaigned alongside future MP Peter Hain on the anti-Apartheid marches, anti-Vietnam War and later, the Free Nelson Mandela movement in the 1970s.

He also participated in the Greenham Common protests of the 1980s.

Tony had a varied career, working as a social worker in Cwmbran and Bridgend, eventually starting a family in 1968 with the birth of his son Own and daughter Ceri.

He later went on to study in Cardiff to Msc in economics and became a university lecturer, at the Cardiff University Dept. of Social Science.

He would leave Cardiff University in the late 1980’s and go on to study Librarianship at Aberystwyth University.

He also worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau and become a lecturer for the Open University.

Tony and Edna retired to Honiton in 2005, where they spent getting involved in several organisations and societies:

He founded the Senior Voice, campaigning on many local issues including topics covering disability rights, post office closures, and most recently the closure of beds at Honiton Community Hospital.

This was of particular personal interest to him as it included the maternity ward where two of his grandchildren were born, and the closure of the beds he knew he would need after his diagnosis of terminal cancer.

Tony and Edna campaigned vigorously for the Beehive Community Centre in Honiton. And enjoyed going to many functions, events and cinema evenings there.

He felt it was a great asset to the community.

He became interested in the local history of Honiton and surrounding area, and gave many talks on its history and notable personalities, including suffragette and Honiton Mayor Juanita Maxwell Phillips, even Bomber Harris. He was also a Blue Plaques of Honiton Tour Guide.

A recent campaign of his involved the restoration of the World War 1 war graves at Honiton, which had become overgrown and neglected. He believed very strongly in highlighting the stories of the men and women who died fighting in wars for the country.

As a qualified librarian, Tony was particularly fond of Honiton’s own library, which he protected and supported vigorously. He liked nothing more than researching and reading the journals there.

Tony died on Saturday, October 14, 2017.

He and his family were extremely grateful for the excellent care given to him during his final months from all of the staff at the NHS, district nurses, Hospicecare and Marie Curie in Honiton.

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