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Tribute to Derek Watson Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were all saddened by the recent passing of Derek Watson Jones. Two of his grandchildren gave a very moving tribute to him at the Service of Thanksgiving and this is a synopsis of that tribute.

 

Derek was born at Whitley Manor, Chetwynd on 12th August 1928. His father and mother were Edward and Doris Watson Jones. He had 2 older siblings, Eileen and Peter and two younger siblings, Brian and Pamela. His early life revolved around the family, the farm and school. Living on a farm was like living on a 400 acre playground and even that sort of space wasn’t enough. His parents allowed the children a long lead and they could roam freely and make their own entertainment as long as they were back for meal times and bed time. The long lead extended to allowing the children to cycle in the countryside or wander around and work on the farm, although there were several accidents.

 

He went to school at Newport Girls High School from the age of 5 to 9. In those days, the high school had a co-educational junior section. At the age of 9 he went to Adams’ Grammar School where he excelled at rugger and cricket but nothing much is mentioned about his academic successes. At the age of 17, he left Adams to work on the farm at Whitley

 

Derek excelled at rugby and joined Newport Rugby Club at the age of 19 in 1947, playing as a winger or more latterly as full back. He was a fine all-rounder with a reputation for hard tackling, a very safe pair of hand under the high ball, often made penetrating runs from the deep, and was a very good kicker of the ball. He was club captain for 5 years from 1952 – 1957 and finally hung up his boots in 1965, having played for the club for 18 years.

 

He also enjoyed a game of badminton in the winter months and was a member of Newport Badminton Club for 40 years. As well as the badminton, the club had other attractions in the form of a fellow member, a certain Joyce Lowe. That particular match finished love all and they were married at St Mary’s Longford in 1951.

 

The backdrop to his married life was the village of Moreton, not forgetting The Outwoods and Bromstead of course, with the family, farming,

 

community service, social life and the church all being a part of it. Derek moved to Moreton Park in 1949 at the age of 20 and Joyce joined him in 1951. In retirement, they moved to Keepers Cottage in the village in 1989. The farm was a typical mixed farm of the time, with his Ayrshire dairy herd, sheep, mixed with the usual arable crops, potatoes, sugar beet, wheat, barley and oats. Moreton is a very different village to that of the earlier years but Derek and Joyce embraced this change giving a warm welcome to all those who moved to live in the local villages. Due to the frailties of life, they left Moreton in 2016 to live in Newport.

 

The Church was central to Derek’s life and he attended the service at St Mary’s Moreton every Sunday. He was church treasurer and PCC member for over 60 years. He was involved in all the connected church social activities, acting as auctioneer at the Moreton Harvest Supper each year. He also had the ability to throw a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate with pinpoint accuracy to the winner of the Irish Bingo. The annual fund raising luncheon at their home started off as a paupers’ lunch for a couple of years, but the catering gradually got so splendid that subsequent annual lunches were changed to a ploughman’s lunch. They were held for many years and were enjoyed by all. Without seeking recognition, he also mowed the grass in the churchyard for many years, which was quite a challenge in view of the slopes.

 

He represented Moreton as a Parish Councillor on Gnosall Parish Council for 57 years, acting as its Chairman on 4 separate occasions. He was Chairman when negotiations to take over the Grosvenor Centre was the main focus for the Parish Council that particular year. He was devoted to the role and loved working behind the scenes for the benefit of the community without seeking personal publicity or credit. When he achieved 50 years, Derek and Joyce were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. He described that as one of the proudest days of his life.    

 

In the 1990s, the question of the state of Moreton Village Hall kept everyone’s minds busy. He was an important part of the team that created Moreton Millennium Centre as its replacement. It was very much a team event but quietly he helped persuade a sceptical Gnosall Parish Council to support the project financially and he was there, chainsaw in hand, helping to clear the site before the builders arrived. He was a vital cog in that team.

 

When his children went to Newport Infant School, he was asked to be a School Governor and stayed in the role for over 50 years, again working behind the scenes helping to guide the school. His other great love was Newport and District Agricultural Society, helping to organise Newport Show each year. He joined the committee in 1976 and was president in 1983, only retiring from the committee last year, having been made a Life Member a few years before. He also liked a day’s shooting with friends on local farms and was a member of the Teddersley Shoot for many years.

 

Although he never really played football, he loved to watch, particularly his beloved Wolves. At the age of 10 in 1939, he recalled listening the FA Cup final on the radio when Wolves played Portsmouth. Wolves were red hot favourites to win but contrived to lose 4-1. This didn’t put him off and he became a regular at the Molineux, through all weathers and all divisions. He was very knowledgeable about football,  but could be very opinionated from the stands and was undoubtedly the most qualified referee never to officiate at a game. The last time he attended was in September when Wolves won 2-1 with the winning goal coming in the 3rd minute of injury time. Not a bad way to sign off after a lifetime of visiting Molineux. His father was also an avid supporter and he expected his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to follow the tradition.

 

He was very much a family man and loved children. He married Joyce in 1951 and so the marriage lasted 66 years, with cards from the Queen at 60th and 65th anniversaries. They were very much a partnership, each contributing their own interests and skills to the marriage but combining their interests, particularly in and around Moreton. Their 3 sons had young lives that mirrored his, with a fair amount of freedom outside the house to fill the day.

 

When grandchildren began to arrive he was in his element. In retirement, he would spend a day a week at both William’s and David’s farms, doing odd jobs and being that “extra man” when things got busy. When the grandchildren and more latterly the great grandchildren visited, the family toy box would be taken out of the cupboard and the contents tipped onto the carpet. Most of the toys are 60 years old, well bashed about but have given pleasure to 3 generations. Three children, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren certainly kept him busy and entertained and, at the same time, he offered so much to them over the years.

 

In conclusion, he was a friend, a family man, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather; he was a gentleman, sportsman, a countryman, a churchman and a community man and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

 

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