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Relatively speaking: Dad and daughter, David and Kristy

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 22/04/2015

Happy family: David Simpson with his daughter Kristy
Happy family: David Simpson with his daughter Kristy

David Simpson, the DUP candidate for Upper Bann, and his wife, Elaine, were only the second couple in Northern Ireland to adopt from abroad. Their eldest daughter, Kristy (27), is from India and twins Steven and Leah (26) are from Paraguay. Kristy runs Sitara Morgan in Portadown.

Name: David Simpson

Age: 56

Occupation: DUP candidate for Upper Bann

Relationship to Kristy: Father

I think we were only the second couple in Northern Ireland to adopt internationally, so it caused a little confusion. When we brought Kristy home here, we would be out walking with her and people would look in the buggy, then they would look back at us and then look down at her again with a puzzled look.

Obviously, then the conversation would start and we would explain what had happened.

We adopted Kristy when she was 10 months old from a Christian missionary hospital in India, although we had known about her since her birth.

Relatively soon after that, we went out to Paraguay with the hope of adopting two children. It was just coincidence that the twins, Steven and Leah, had been born then, so after going through the courts and the whole adoption process, we brought them home, too.

When she was little, we called Kristy "Mowgli", as she would push up her nose the same way as the character in The Jungle Book.

She also loved to sit with a bucket on her head.

We've been in the agri-food sector for 36 years now since I formed my own company. Kristy worked there after she left school and before she decided to open her shop. I used to say she graced us with her presence.

I wasn't sure about it when she said she wanted to open her own business. Kristy was a very shy individual and I kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to deal with the public and with suppliers and buyers.

I have to say, I'm very proud that she has surprised me and the business has now been going for more than four years.

It's really brought her out of her shell and she's a different girl now than when she started. And every year, or 18 months, you can see that confidence improving.

I'm very proud of them all, but Kristy really has been a great success in business. Leah got married last year, Steven is getting married this June and Kristy has just set a date for next May with her fiance, Aaron.

We're still a very close family and often have Sunday lunch together. Sometimes, if I'm home on a Friday and don't have any meetings, then I'll say to one of them that we should go out for a meal.

You can't ask one without asking them all and that includes their other halves, too, so there could be seven or eight of us at a restaurant at any given time.

Those are the nights I enjoy. It's a wee get-together and a bit of crack around the table.

Name: Kristy Simpson

Age: 27

Occupation: Owner/manager of Sitara Morgan

Relationship to David: Daughter

I can't remember ever being told I was adopted, I only remember knowing I was, so there was never a big shock at finding out. We were always very aware that we were adopted, but it was never an issue. We all came along when we were so young that we've never known anything different.

I've never had any contact with my birth parents, but the Christian missionaries who ran the hospital where I was born, still keep in touch and we write to each other.

My dad has always been busy, so when he was elected as an MP, it wasn't that different. Everyone knew who he was before that, anyway, because he ran his own business. He also was out singing a lot, or with the Orange Order.

He was also very involved in the Church. Now he just spends a larger chunk of the week away on business.

I remember that, anywhere we went in Northern Ireland, we would run into people my dad knew. It wasn't until we went really far away, like America, when we went on a cruise that he could really relax - he was trampolining and diving in the pool with the rest of us. It helped that there was no one there he knew and he could let go.

I worked in the family company after I left school, but I always wanted to run my own business and I loved fashion. That time in dad's firm was a great learning experience, as I'm able to do all of the paperwork for the shop now.

Dad has always been very supportive and the shop has now been open for five years. It does help that he can give me lots of advice. He's on the phone every day, asking how things are going and answering questions for me.

My brother and I are still at home, but by next year we won't be, as we're both getting married. I'll be the last one to go and it will be very strange. My sister only got married last year and, before my granny, Viola, passed away last year, she lived with us, too, so there was a full house.

I'm not going too far, though, so we'll still be around. There's Sunday lunch every single week - my sister comes every other week and I think we're closer now that she has moved out, as we spend quality time together.

Dad will tell jokes, or silly stories that he thinks are hilarious, but they're not really.

A life in politics

  • David Simpson was first elected to Craigavon Borough Council in 2001
  • In 2003, he was elected as an MLA for Upper Bann and went on to win his Westminster seat in 2005, defeating Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
  • He has acted as DUP spokesman on trade and industry, young people, international development and business
  • He founded the Universal Meat Company, which the Simpson family still run, in 1979

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