August 16, 2016

Tributes paid to former Burnham and Highbridge Mayor Neville Jones

Tributes have been paid to former Burnham-On-Sea Mayor and war veteran Neville Jones OBE who passed away early on Tuesday.

Neville, a well-known face about Burnham and Highbridge, died peacefully at home early this morning at the age of 94.

Burnham and Highbridge's Mayor, Cllr Michael Clarke, said: "Neville put his heart and soul into Burnham and Highbridge - he pushed and pushed for improvements in both towns over the years. He will be missed by many across our two towns, having been a big part of many local groups, and involved with all aspects of our local community."

The Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, Cllr Duncan McGinty, added: "Neville Jones was a larger-than-life character who felt passionately for Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge. Neville fought hard for what he believed and his long career in local government had a lasting influence on the local area we have today. Neville commanded a great deal of respect both far and wide; he was one of a kind and will be sadly missed."

Neville was also a founding member of Burnham's rescue charity BARB, which was formed as Burnham Area Rescue Boat in 1992. As the charity's President, he spoke at the naming ceremony for BARB's new Spirit Of Lelaina 2 hovercraft last week, pictured above, which was his final formal function.

Mark Newman, Chairman of BARB, said: "Neville will be greatly missed by everyone at BARB - he was a huge supporter of our charity's life-saving work, having been involved since the very beginning of the organisation 24 years ago. It was fitting, therefore, that his final function was to attend the naming ceremony of our latest hovercraft last weekend when he spoke of his pride at how successful the charity is. We very much appreciate all Neville's work for BARB over the years."

During World War II, he was a Sub Lieutenant onboard the carrier HMS Speaker, the first Allied ship into Tokyo Bay during World War II. We featured Neville's role in detail here during the 70th anniversary of VJ Day last year when he was thanked for his service by the Duke Of Edinburgh, pictured right.

Neville was presented with a civic award for his community work last October in recognition of his 30 years as a town councillor. During that time, he served as Burnham and Highbridge's Mayor for four terms and was described as a "driving force" behind many local groups.

His wife, Margot, passed away in January 2015 following a brief illness. The two had met in 1948 after a mobile hairdressing business set up Neville for a blind date.

After they married in 1949, pictured right, they bought a house on the edge of the Cotswolds while Neville took his first steps into local government, becoming the youngest member of Oxford County Council at age 29.

From there, they moved to Devon and ran two successful hotels. The couple moved to Burnham in 1972, where Neville served on the town, district and county councils and received an OBE in 1993. He had been Mayor of Burnham and Highbridge four times, with Margot giving strong support as Mayoress.

"I could never do the things I have achieved without her," said Neville last year. "She spent a huge amount of time supporting me and was the most excellent hostess with guests. She was a very active Mayoress - I say that with pride - and was very energetic in so many things. She never minded putting her hand into her purse to help with hospitality, a standard that has been maintained ever since. She loved being Mayoress and was very proud of the role."

Margot and Neville meeting Prince Edward during his visit to BARB in 2014

The couple arriving at the Burnham and Highbridge Civic Service in 2010


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