|13 Mar 2023|
|Written by Heather Ayling|
We were saddened to learn of the death of Rev David Jones, aged 100. Rev Jones was Chaplain of Kelly College from 1955 to 1962 and still kept in touch with many staff and pupils from his time at the School. The photo above (Rev Jones is seated) was taken in January 2016 when he was visited by three of his former pupils: Robert Prance (1960-66), David Milford (1960-65) and Chris Morley (1960-66).
Address given by Robert Prance (OMK 1960-66):
The Revd Prebendary Wilfred David Jones
7th October 1922 – 11th February 2023
Chaplain to Kelly College 1955 – 1962
David, Father David, or Di Jones as we used to say in attempt to capture his lovely Welsh accent, although not to his face, was the epitome of a fine, no messing about, School Chaplain. Indeed, nobody messed about in his class. This was not because he was ever aggressive or unkind, it was simply because he, like perhaps such as Robert Edwards, John Mann or Lesley Stoddard, simply commanded respect. Others will add to this list.
As well as RE, or whatever we called it in those days, he taught Latin and English. I can still recall how in English on a Friday, he would always read to us; and the strains of his fine voice over the pages of ‘Moonfleet’ for example is something I will never forget.
He was an ever-present figure around the school usually clad in his cassock apart from Saturdays… why on earth do I remember that? The daily act of worship was taken three times a week by David, once a week by the Headmaster and once a week by Deputy Head Lesley Stoddard. David would zoom down the aisle, cassock flapping but never forgetting to give a short bow to the altar. He sang with great gusto and in taking a service no microphone was required! The same strong voice was equally audible down on the rugby pitch, a game he loved and which he had played at Oxford.
My greatest regret was that David left before I hit sixth form so it wasn’t until much later I got to know him as rather more grown up. But two things I would want to record from very early days. From day one, because I had a strong treble voice I was in the choir alongside the now, very sadly, late Chris Morley. In the choir was a delightful sixth former with a fine bass voice. These were the days when there was considerable bullying in the school and I can still recall the name of some such bullies. I was told it was the sort of thing that “made a man of you!” Heaven help us! As for the friendly bass singer, lets call him John, he was no bully, but a great encourager to us little treble mortals. Silly chump, he was caught having brought a bottle of gin back to school. The result was he was expelled. No not ‘asked to leave’, expelled.
At Evensong the following Sunday the whole school refused to sing for he was a senior boy who had much love and kindness in his heart. I remember turning round to see David and he was, I thought, close to tears. After the service I was bold enough to go into the vestry and ask him if he was OK. Remember I was a very junior boy in my first year. I can’t quite remember what he said but it was something like “That’s very kind. I’m fine, just sad. I will have more to say next Sunday. Please listen.” Next Sunday David gave the address and I listened. It was a powerful blast. No mention of gin but a fierce directive. ‘Yes, to bring a banned something into school was stupid and silly, even wrong…. but to bully or to hurt physically or mentally another human being is much worse... that is evil and far more worthy of punishment than anything else. To break a school rule may be wrong. But to bully another is far worse and we need to have the wisdom to know the difference between breaking school rules and being evil. I wonder if we do?’ This was as I recall it but that was the final sentence which rang out loud and clear. There was a long silence as David returned to his stall. It was a fierce disapproval of authority and I think it was, for David, a sense it would be time to move on before too long. But the decision to have to leave was something which he was very sad about… as indeed were we. And it lingered on with him all his life, even when I visited him in his nineties. Enough said.
The other recollection was that there was a Communion Service every morning, quite voluntary, at 7:30am, and 6:30am every Friday; this to enable any domestic staff to attend, a few did. David always wanted two servers at every Communion and on a Friday for about a year it was me and dear Bob Govier who was a gentle Maths teacher and also in charge of Sport. I never begrudged this early rising for I sensed how very important this was to David. What I never forget was that the moment of Consecration David would slow right up and say with great deliberation and very slowly at snail’s pace “This…is…my…body…given…for…you…do…this…in…remembrance…of…me.”
It was always the same and I could not miss how very important the words meant to him. Fifty years on since I was first ordained, I still do as he did. I’m not sure how important it is but what I do know that this dear man made a huge impression upon a rather uncertain teenager. There is no doubt that in a funny way he sowed the seed which brought me to become a priest in 1972. He was a lovely man, a superb chaplain and parish priest, a devoted husband and father. The huge congregation at Ilminster on March 14th reflected how revered and loved this fine centenarian was and will so remain in our hearts.
MAY HE REST IN WELL DESERVED PEACE.
Robert Penrose Prance, Newton House, 1960 – 1966
Head of House and Deputy Head of School, 1965 – 1966
Later Chaplain to Sherborne School, 1983 – 1993, and Shiplake College, 1999 - 2010
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