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Soho photographer pays tribute to the ‘chipper’ RAF veteran who became an unlikely friend

Ron Simpson, who died on Sunday, became the star of an art exhibition

14 April, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Ron Simpson, as photographed by Rebecca Taylor

He was a lovable “old rogue” who formed an unlikely friendship with a Soho photographer and featured in one of her art shows.

Retired Royal Air Force veteran Ron Simpson took centre stage in Rebecca Taylor’s exhibition, just before Christmas, about the lack of emotional contact between the young and the old.

Following his death aged 75 on Sunday, Rebecca paid tribute to her friend who she said had become like her “second daddy” since he moved into her building in St Anne’s, Soho, from Pimlico, five years ago.

Rebecca, who had lost her own father who was also in the RAF, said: “I will miss him loads.

“He was just a great character with his mad moustache and strange bendy nose. He had all sorts of anecdotes, he was very naughty most of his life, he was always getting into trouble.

“When Ron moved in here about five years ago he didn’t really know anyone.

“He was very chipper and very nice so I popped round just to say hi and welcome him to the building. We started chatting and just got on so well. He was a bit of a rogue and such a lovely old gentleman.”

Rebecca said she realised Ron needed a bit of company when he tried to throw a party for his old friends, but no one could make it.

“That is the thing with old age, people can slip through the cracks so easily. I saw that he was going to be a bit lonely.”

She added: “I adored him – he was like my second daddy. I began regularly nipping in and keeping him company and seeing if he needed anything.”

Ron was born in 1942 and worked in aviation throughout his life. Unable to become a pilot because of hearing problems, he worked instead in airforce military mapping and later in aircraft deal­making.

Much of his spare time was spent enjoying a drink and a cigarette and the pair would often share a tipple or two and chat away about politics and aircraft.

Rebecca’s art show explored the psychological gap between the younger and older generations.

She said: “I would love doing some photos of him because he had a wonderful face.”

Her photos started off simply but became more and more creative, with Ron taking on many unusual looks, from the casual to the extravagant. It soon blossomed into a full blown exhibition.

All About Ron, went on display in the OXO Tower and was featured in the West End Extra.

Ron’s health had recently begun to decline and on Sunday he died.

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