My buddy and mentor Les Jones, who has died aged 90, was an economics trainer at faculties in Oxfordshire and Shropshire, but additionally had a aspect existence as an natural farmer throughout the Nineteen Eighties and 90s.
In 1982 Les purchased a 25-acre smallholding, The Hollows, within the Stiperstones hills in Shropshire, the place – whereas nonetheless instructing – he raised sheep, goats, geese and chickens and grew natural courgettes, beans and potatoes. He was additionally concerned in establishing Bishops Fortress and South Shropshire Credit score Union.
Though he beloved engaged on the land, the smallholding sucked up quite a lot of Les’s cash, and in 1996 he bought it to facilitate a transfer to the village of Cwmbelan in mid-Wales, the place he sorted a smaller plot and an allotment whereas additionally instructing part-time at Coleg Harlech.
Les was born in Coedpoeth in north Wales, the youngest of the 4 youngsters of Theresa (nee Davies), a housewife, and Llewellyn, a coalminer. After attending Grove Park county college for boys in Wrexham, he went to work as an engineering apprentice at Bersham Ironworks, the place he developed the socialist beliefs that remained with him for the remainder of his life. After finding out regionally with the Staff’ Training Affiliation, he was supplied a spot at Ruskin Faculty in Oxford, the place he took a course in economics and politics.
In 1964 Les gained a scholarship to review politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen Faculty, Oxford College, the place he was taught by the historian AJP Taylor. Shortly after graduating in 1968 he started his profession as an economics trainer, working over time at three Oxfordshire faculties – Chipping Norton grammar, Bicester college and John Mason college in Abingdon – in addition to at Holsworthy college in Devon and Madeley Courtroom college in Shropshire, the place he taught me. He took early retirement in 1987, after which he labored part-time at Ludlow Sixth Type Faculty till 1993.
He had his work exhibited in native galleries, remained a stalwart of the Labour celebration, and likewise grew to become a Quaker.
An early marriage resulted in divorce. In 2000 he married Eileen Laycock, a social employee whom he had met in 1988. Eileen died in 2011, and whereas the Covid lockdown was robust for Les, he continued to show on-line, together with by getting ready college students for his or her Oxbridge interviews. He lived on his personal, and independently, till a fall led to a transfer to a care house shortly earlier than his dying.