The friend of a man originally from Cumbria who was well known for his work with deaf charities has paid tribute to him.

Ken Johnston, who has been friends with Stewart Simpson for many years said: “My long-standing friend, who was awarded an OBE for his pioneering work with a national deaf charity, has died, aged 85.

“Stewart Simpson was originally from Penrith, but grew up in Wigan where his father worked on the railways, the family returning to the Lake District when he was a teenager. After leaving school he initially worked at a number of branches of Midland Bank, interrupted by two years National Service in the RAF, before gaining teaching and degree qualifications at Durham University. He moved on to complete a Masters in Social Administration at London School of Economics.

“Initially he taught at Carlisle Technical College, before becoming a lecturer in social policy at Moray House, Edinburgh where he was responsible for teaching policy to social, community workers and teachers.

“His work with the deaf started when he joined a communications skills project funded by the government and administered by the British Deaf Association, based in Carlisle. It had already been running for two years before Stewart became involved and he went on to become director of the project, organising its change in name and status to the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP) in December 1980. The CACDP was the national board in sign language and existed as a valuable link between deaf and hearing people.

“In 1985 the organisation’s base moved to Durham, with operations in place throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. When awarded an OBE for his work in 1999 he was proud to acknowledge at that time ‘that there were now 1,000 deaf people teaching sign language, offering enhanced opportunities to many’.

“Stewart headed the CACDP for 20 years, stepping down in 1999. In retirement he was ‘energetic to the end’. His love of rugby was very much a part of his life; he was a long-term member of Carlisle Rugby Club. Aged 67, he completed the London Marathon and, still supporting CACDP, he chose their charity to benefit from his efforts. He also took part in a number of half-marathons. While still in his sixties, he climbed Kilimanjaro, did the Machu Picchu Trail and visited Timbuktu. These were great experiences for another love of his – regaling stories. Ever the gentleman, he was a good listener to family, friends and colleagues and all will miss his wise counsel and good humour.

“Tributes have been paid to Stewart by organisations involved in communications with deaf people including the National Register of Communication Professionals Working with Deaf and Deafblind People who stated it was ‘difficult to overestimate the impact he had – without his vision, foresight and towering contribution, NRCPD would not be here today , 40 years later, as the national register of language professionals working with and for deaf people. His contribution to improving the lives of deaf people was immeasurable'. He is survived by his family – wife Val, daughters Nicola and Liz, granddaughters Hannah and Rebekah and great grandchildren, Olivia and Chester.”

His family added: “He was a loving, loyal husband and never boring. Much loved father to Nicola and Liz, treasured grandfather to Hannah and Rebekah, and great-grandfather to Livvy and Chester.”