Garage entrepreneur and charity champion dies

MUCH LOVED: Mr Jack Simpson (s)
MUCH LOVED: Mr Jack Simpson (s)

AN ENTREPRENEUR who was renowned for his generous and kind nature has died aged 84.

Jack Simpson was proud of being Burnley born and bred. He was known as “Pike Hill Jack” for his local car dealership, and for the contribution he made to life in the area.

Mr Simpson left Towneley School at 14 to become an apprentice motor mechanic. It was said he had oil in his veins and after being offered a job at Pike Hill garage in the early 1950s he began to live his dream of running and owning a garage.

He sank his life savings, and house, into buying the garage and eventually ran a substantial Renault franchise for 17 years. The success of the business took him to Expo ‘67 in Montreal via New York and Washington on a 10,000 mile trip with fellow Renault dealers. He later worked with Chrysler and Peugeot before selling the concern in 1988.

The world of business was not always at the forefront of Mr Simpson’s mind. He and his family lived next door to the garage in Brunshaw Road, where he enjoyed being an active part of the community and bringing up his children, Bob and Melanie.

He was a parish councillor and, in his early 50s, was made president of Worsthorne OAP Association, organising popular Christmas dinners for many years. He was also a Freemason and took his obligations seriously, becoming Worshipful Master at a lodge in Manchester.

As a young man he was the leader of Burnley Police Boys’ Youth Club and was a keen sportsman, particularly swimming and boxing. Always keen animal lovers, he and his late wife, Shirley, bred German shepherd dogs and showed at Crufts. In later years he took up bowling and encouraged Shirley to join him. She discovered a latent talent and went on to represent the county. After she died, Mr Simpson gave a trophy in her name.

The last year of Mr Simpson’s life was beset with illness; he had been diagnosed with renal failure and given weeks to live. He declined invasive hospital treatment and was cared for at home by Melanie. She said: “Dad still maintained his sense of humour and capacity to care and think of others. He was a lovely man, but I could not have managed without the help of our carers from Brentwood, Marie Curie and the Pendleside hospice at home team. They were all wonderful, and I can’t thank them enough.”