Simon Simpson OBE: 1935 – 2023

It is with deep sadness to announce that Simon Simpson OBE, fourth-generation maltster and Chairman of Simpsons Malt Limited for more than 40 years, has passed away at the age of 88.

Simon was a loving husband to Jan and father to Richard (Vice Chair & Marketing Director) and the late Peter, and a true friend to many. The Simpsons Malt Limited family will miss him tremendously.

Great-grandson of Simpsons Malt Limited Founder James P. Simpson, Simon was the son of Richard L. Simpson who, together with his brother James F. Simpson, led the business following the death of their father – Richard H. Simpson – in 1942.

Simon ‘officially’ joined the family business in 1953 at the age of 18, at a time when the company operated 17 floor malting sites in the north of England. Ten years later, on New Year’s Day 1963, the company’s Tweed Valley Maltings became operational, with Simon famously recalling that the weather was so cold when the first steep was cast that all the steephouse pipes froze.

The opening of Tweed Valley Maltings resulted in the closure of many of the smaller malting sites in the years that followed, with Simon overseeing the growth of the Berwick-upon-Tweed site as it became – and remains – the company’s headquarters and the largest single malting site in the United Kingdom, with the capacity to produce up to 245,000 tonnes of malt per year.

During the 1970s, Simon became Managing Director and, with a keen interest in agriculture, in 1980, he gave David McCreath his credit lines to start what would become McCreath Simpson & Prentice – the agricultural merchanting division that is pivotal in the company’s overall operations today.

In 1981, Simon assumed the position of Chairman following the death of his uncle James and, two years later, he purchased an arable farm in Eyemouth, Scottish Borders, in part to secure the long-term supply of Golden Promise®™ barley, which was used at the time – and still today – by Timothy Taylor’s, and more recently by some of the world’s leading craft breweries.

In 2004, Simon was awarded an OBE for his services to the malting industry, while he was also incredibly passionate about making the business a force for good in the local communities around its sites. In 2008, he helped to form the company’s charitable arm, The Simpson McCreath Trust, which has donated more than £100,000 to good causes since its registration.

Simon remained as a Director up until his passing and continued to come into the office at least two days per week. He also took great pride in the family history of the business and regularly hosted company history presentations for new starters, the most recent of which was for his five granddaughters – Eva, Freya, Isla, Georgina and Charlotte – who had been working in the family business during the summer.