A MAN who was a jack-of-all-trades has died at the age of 80.

Gordon Simpson, originally from Haughton, attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Hexham, before leaving to work in the offices of the Tyne Metal Company in Hexham as a clerk.

At the age of 13, Gordon’s grandfather bought him a piano accordion.

He took lessons from Jimmy Carr of Wall, and by 15 he was good enough to be the ‘spare man’ in Carr’s local dance band, before later becoming a full time member.

Gordon’s family life changed dramatically when his father, Charlie Simpson, bought the part-ruined 13th century Blenkinsopp Castle near Greenhead, along with a lodge and 18 acres of land.

The castle had been destroyed by a mysterious fire.

One part of the castle was able to be renovated, and Gordon and his parents moved into the castle lodge in October 1955 and began a massive clear-up operation.

Gordon eventually left the dance band and became a stock controller at Smith and Walter’s paint works in Haltwhistle, but things were not going well at Blenkinsopp, and Charlie almost decided to sell up.

However, lifelines appeared in the form of coal left over from the nearby mine, which was suitable for burning at Carlisle power station, and workers involved in the construction of the rocket site at Spadeadam.

Many of the workers had mobile homes and required sites with facilities and infrastructure. So Gordon managed to persuade his father to set up a site, and gave up his job to develop it, selling the left over coal to buy materials.

The site was eventually a great success, and continues to be so to this day, now as Home Park.

After the project was finished, Gordon became a welder at Spadeadam, but when the government mothballed the site, he was offered a job in the Midlands.

In the early 1980s, he trained as a cameraman and producer, meeting and interviewing famous faces such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Frank Bruno. He also produced several documentary films.

He continued to play the accordion publicly until his death from cancer on March 5. He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth, his children Catherine and Robert, and his grandchildren Tom, Kieran, Jack, and Finn. The couple also had a third child, the late Andrew Simpson.