Obituary: Jeff Jones, teacher and Justice of the Peace – and former pirate radio DJ

Teacher and broadcaster Jeff Jones has died at the age of 73
Teacher and broadcaster Jeff Jones has died at the age of 73
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Jeff Jones JP MRSC, teacher and broadcaster. Born 27 November, 1945 in Darlington. Died 19 February, 2019 in Elgin, aged 73.

With his penchant for three-piece suits and ­fondness for pirate radio, Jeff Jones was never going to ­conform to the standard image of a school chemistry teacher.

As a young man he juggled his early teaching career with several years as a one of ­Aberdeen’s favourite disc jockeys, once playing for the Queen at Balmoral. The ­principal chemistry master and former newsreader, who used to broadcast from an illegal radio ship, went on to become a ­Justice of the Peace and chair his local community council.

Jones, whose adult life was lived as much on the airwaves as in the classroom, was a true eccentric, known across ­Scotland to legions of appreciative students and listeners.

Born in Darlington, the son of a building consultant, he was educated at prep school and then Richmond Grammar before going up to Aberdeen to read chemistry in 1967. Immediately upon graduating he answered a newspaper advert for a job on pirate Radio 270 – because he thought it sounded interesting.

He started as a newsreader, which he claimed he did “very badly”, but was given the occasional chance to be a “boy wonder”, as the jingles described it, and became a DJ.

Unusually for a British offshore station, the Radio 270 ship Oceaan 7, which operated off the coast at Scarborough, made regular shore trips for supplies, an activity which almost led to his arrest on one occasion.

Having arrived at Bridlington in the early hours, he and some colleagues decided to take a stroll along the harbour wall only to be met by a policeman looking for Jeff Jones. When Jones responded, it appeared he was to be charged with some traffic offence.

It transpired he had been reading the news at the time of the alleged offence, an alibi his audience could attest to, and that the miscreant had ­“borrowed” the DJ’s name.

After that lucky escape the law intervened again, when the Marine Offences Act came into operation later in 1967, forcing the closure of most pirate ­stations. Jones returned to Aberdeen and set up a mobile disco, reportedly the city’s first, which proved very popular on the student circuit and ran until 1974.

Meanwhile, he also returned to his studies, completed teacher training at Aberdeen College of Education in 1969 and started teaching at ­Aberdeen Grammar School. A couple of years later he moved to St Aelred’s High School, Paisley, as principal science teacher, and continued broadcasting, this time with Paisley Hospital Radio. Two years after that he was back in the north-east, this time as the youngest principal teacher of chemistry at Buckie High School.

From then on his voice was heard regularly on various ­stations, including hospital radio in Buckie, BBC Radio Aberdeen, where in the late 1970s he hosted the Music Centre every Tuesday, NorthSound and even a short stint at BBC Radio 2.

When Moray Firth Radio was established in 1982 he joined the team there, broadcasting every Saturday, ­presenting a variety of slots for more almost 30 years. He also started Radio Buckie at Buckie High.

Ever the dapper dresser, it wasn’t unusual for him to turn up at his daughter’s sports day in three-piece suit and Cuban heels, much to her mortification, but he was devoted to her. He had married his wife Josette in Aberdeen in 1972 and Justine was their only child.

For her he sacrificed his yearning for a sports car so she could learn to play the cello and turned up to every hockey match she played in – perched on a hunting stick and sporting his trenchcoat. Once, when she had phoned about some difficulty during her university years, he promptly jumped in the car and drove all the way to Edinburgh just to give her a hug before ­driving home again.

In addition to his teaching, he was a chartered chemist with the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Girl Guide ambassador for Moray, a JP for two decades, a keen cricketer, a marathon runner and contributor to his local newspaper.

He was also involved in charity singles for local organisations and records for local bands and, last year, came full circle when he attended a reunion of pirate radio DJs which included Tony Blackburn. The event was to mark the 50th anniversary of the legislation which shut down the pirate stations.

With his roots in County Durham, he was a lifelong and generous Darlington FC ­supporter, regularly travelling to matches and supporting their fundraising campaigns. The club held a minute’s silence for him earlier this month at the start of their league game against Chorley.

He is survived by his wife and daughter.

ALISON SHAW