OBITUARY: Jonathan Simms was devoted to Christ and the BB ethos

Jonathan Simms
Jonathan Simms

Jonathan Simms had a lifetime of involvement in the Boy’s Brigade (BB), beginning when he was just entering his teens.

The Carrickfergus man had played a pivotal role in the movement within the town, and had been accorded an MBE in 1989 for his services to youth work.

Jonathan Simms

Jonathan Simms

He was buried last month, after his death aged 97.

Born on November 28, 1918, the son of James and Margaret Simms.

His first encounter with the BB was when he joined the town’s 1st Carrickfergus Company, affiliated to the Methodist church, 12 years later.

Faith played an important part of his life and he went on to become a Sunday school teacher, an elder in the town’s First Presbyterian Church, and was also heavily involved with the YMCA.

In BB terms, he was captain of the town’s 3rd Company for over two decades, helped found the Third Carrickfergus Band (of which he was president), and also served as president of the over-arching East Antrim Battalion from 1981 until 1994.

A businessman, his livelihood stemmed from a series of grocery shops her ran in the Carrickfergus area.

Long-serving independent unionist councillor Jim Brown, now 64, remembers him as both his former BB captain, and as the man who gave him his first job.

He said: “He certainly lived the motto of the BB: ‘the advancement of Christ’s kingdom among boys, and the promotion of habits of obedience, discipline and self respect, and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness’.

“In Carrick, I would say he was Mr BB; he virtually ate and slept BB.”

He only ceased his involvement with the BB when he was no longer physically able to continue.

This was echoed by nephew James Simms, a Presbyterian minister in Rasharkin.

Noting that he had become a Christian from a very young age, he said: “He lived life to the full, and to the Glory of God.”

Mr Simms also served as a governor of Carrickfergus Central and Carrickfergus High.

He had been living at the Ravenhill Private Nursing Home in the town at the time of his death on December 17; something Rev Simms attributed simply to old age.

His funeral was held on December 20, and a guard of honour was formed by over 100 BB alumni outside the church after the service.

He was buried at Victoria Cemetery in the town.

He was unmarried, and was predeceased by his nine brothers, and survived by his sister Rita, plus a host of nieces and nephews.