It is with great sadness that Wales branch announces the death of Alaw Jones a founder member of the North Wales Branch and one of Wales first Master Craftsman/Examiners.
He will be interred at Coetmor, Betheda, Gwynedd on Monday 7th 2021 at 2pm.
It is with much sadness that I bring you the news that North Wales walling stalwart and doyen Alaw Jones passed away from lung cancer at the end of may.
Alaw began walling whilst still at school, which he left aged 13 to work alongside his grandfather William Jones. His two younger brothers followed suit and Alaw always said walling was in his blood. A founder member of the North Wales Branch (1984), he won the Branch’s inaugural competition at the Merioneth Show in 1985, he was the (joint) first professional alongside six other North Wales wallers to receive their Master Craftsman certificate in 1986. After retiring from competition he was the first from Wales to attend Examiner standard setting and went on to become part of the DSWA base marking team for this in the early 1990s. As an examiner and competition judge in North Wales and across Britain, including the national championships, he was always generous in his praise of good work but very much scathing where hammers were involved, insisting it was a poor waller that split, shaped or marked stones which he said should always be set in their natural place. At one early Branch test day, following a week-long course Alaw had been instructing on, one candidate produced a rubber mallet from his tool bucket when Alaw arrived, much to Alaw’s amusement. Beyond Branch training days, Alaw instructed on many courses at local agricultural colleges and for organisations such as the National Trust and The Conservation Volunteers. He was always willing to offer expert advice to those who asked, from which many benefitted including myself on a number of occasions, not least when following my suffering a rare lack of self-confidence he accepted an invite to trudge half a mile and several hundred feet up a steep Carneddau hillside to critique the work I was carrying out on a set of sheep pens for my own Master Craftsman certificate. I was duly reassured and forever grateful.
At the 2018 Royal Welsh Show Alaw was presented with a long-standing service award by DSWA as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, one of 3 awards made across the UK marking the recipient’s contribution to the preservation of the craft.
Beyond walling Alaw was a keen gardener winning numerous prizes for his vegetables, flowers and cactii at local and national shows and was famed particularly for his potatoes ‘as round as billiard balls’ and his runner and French beans. A member of the National Vegetable Society he became a respected national judge in this sphere too.
Alaw also had a keen interest in the history of the valley in which he lived – Dyffryn Ogwen, collecting old postcards on the areat. He was also relatively well travelled having visited Australia Canada and India. The latter was an extended stay of a couple of months where he and his wife Betty had been the guests of honour at the wedding of a young Indian lady, one of two sisters Alaw and Betty had taken in some years before.
He was such a gentleman, quiet and sincere. Humble and helpful. He will be much missed by all who knew him.