Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

The Ron Jones Tribute Dinner

Old School

Tribute Dinner to Ron Jones, M.B.E.
Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Thanks to the initiative shown by past student John Cynon Davies, a tribute dinner was held to honour the achievements of Cwmaman born Olympic athlete Ron Jones who attended the school in the late 1940s. John had long been aware that there had been no formal recognition by the school of Ron’s achievements in a lifetime spent in the world of sport. Together with Ken Griffiths, John set about organising the dinner in the second half of 2007. On the very wet and windy evening of Saturday, 29th March 2008, the planning came to fruition and the event took place at The Michael Sobell Sports Centre in Aberdare.

Ron Jones
Ron Jones pictured at the dinner

About 70 guests attended consisting of past students, their partners and others who wished to pay tribute to Ron. The evening commenced at 7:30 p.m. with drinks at the bar, when many past students were able to become reacquainted with old friends. This was followed by a very good four-course meal that included a delicious main course of roast chicken with ample portions of vegetables and other trimmings.

Speeches came at the end when Ken Griffiths began by recalling some of his early memories of Ron’s achievements in the Cynon Valley, and referring to relevant passages in the Centenary Book that was produced in 1996 for the major reunion that took place at this same venue.

John Cynon Davies followed and referred to Ken’s vital role in the organisation of the event. Turning to Ron, he recalled an early athletics event at Maendy in Cardiff when Ron competed in the 400 metres at the Glamorgan Schools Championships. Unlike other competitors, who wore spiked running shoes, Ron was in bare feet; yet, he came a strong third.

The main speaker was David Evans, one of the youngest men at the function! David, originally from Cwmbach, was at the school from 1977 to 1984. An Oxford graduate he made his Welsh debut in the 1989 Five Nations Championship. He gained 12 caps for Wales and represented his country at two rugby World Cups. David also played for Cardiff RFC and captained the side in the 1991-1992 season. Later, moving to Treorchy RFC and then on to Dinas Powys, he scored over a thousand league points at the three clubs.

David outlined Ron’s spectacular achievements, after first pointing out his origins in 1934 when he was born in the borderlands of Cwmaman and Glynhafod. After leaving school in 1950, Ron eventually went on to be one of the most talented sprinters of his generation. He competed in three Olympic games, 1960, 1964 and 1968, captaining the British team in Mexico in 1968. He also represented Wales in four Commonwealth Games. In 1963, he was a member of the British team that equalled the world record for the 4×100 metres relay, and a member of the relay team that reached the Olympic Games final the following year. He made 35 full international match appearances for G.B. After retiring from athletics, Ron was heavily involved in association football management with QPR, Portsmouth and Cardiff - (we wonder who Ron will support in the 2008 Cup Final between Portsmouth and Cardiff?). From 1982 to 1985, Ron made a substantial contribution to the Sports Council for Wales. Since retiring, he has worked tirelessly for Sports Aid Wales, who help develop and encourage youth sport in the Principality. He raised significant sums of money for this organisation and has been involved in the distribution of £500,000 to young athletes.

The final speech of the evening was from Ron himself, who firstly responded to the previous speakers. He then spoke in glowing terms of the school commenting that, “it took me as a wild boy and moulded me into a man”. He spoke of his early days in training in an around Aberdare – on ‘The Line’ and in Mike’s Field. On competing at higher levels, he mentioned that in the early days he had perceived athletics to be a sport often populated by those from privileged schools, but felt a tremendous compliment, as a working class miner’s son, to be asked to captain the Olympic Team. He followed up with a brief resumé of his career both as an athlete, in professional football, and in Sports Aid. In setting him on the road to his long career, he remarked: “Thank you, Aberdare Grammar School”.

Ron was awarded the MBE for his services to athletics in 2000.