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The Ven. Thomas Hughie Jones

04 November 2016

The Very Revd Dr Derek Hole writes:
THE Ven. Hughie Jones, who died on 25 September, aged 89, was born in Manchester of Welsh parents, and was educated there at William Hulme’s Grammar School. On leaving school, he went back to his roots and enrolled at the University of Wales. Here, he obtained his first degree, and, during his training as a Baptist minister, became a regular preacher in and around Cardiff.

His thirst for knowledge con­tinued. Soon after moving to Leicester, he took the external London degree of Bachelor of Div­inity, in 1953. Many years later, in 1972, he took a Master’s degree at the University of Leicester, and, in 1991, a Master’s at Cardiff in canon law, a subject that was to be of great interest to him for the rest of his life. This was later followed by a doctorate at Leicester, which he re­­ceived after his retirement.

His was truly “life-long learning”. He was indeed gifted intel­lectually, and few could equal him, although he possibly met his match in Richard Rutt, a former Bishop of Leicester, who later was to ap­­point him Archdeacon of Lough­borough.

Behind all this academic activity, there was a warm-hearted Evan­gelical Christian, whose theology was biblically orientated, and was at the heart of all he did throughout his life. While very much Welsh and proud of his roots, Hughie did not exercise any kind of ministry in Wales.

His first appointment, in 1949, was as Warden and Lecturer at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, an appointment he held together with that of Minister at John Street Baptist Church. It was in that same year that he married Beryl: the start of 65 years of happy marriage.

Hughie came to Leicester, at­­tracted by the position of Reli­gious Education Specialist in Leicester and Leicestershire Schools. He worship­ped, not at a Baptist Church, but at Melbourne Hall, a Free Evan­gelical Church in the heart of High­­fields. Eight years later, he was appointed Senior Lecturer of Religious Educa­tion at the then Leicester College of Education, the Teacher Training College in Scrap­toft.

During this time, he struck up a friendship with Canon Douglas Michell, Vicar of Evington, and, through his influence, decided to join the Church of England and later to enter the priesthood. He was ordained deacon in 1966, and priest the following year, acting as a non-stipendiary priest in Evington, and later in Kirby Muxloe.

Meanwhile, in education, Hughie was appointed Vice-Principal of Bosworth College in 1970, then Principal of Hind Leys College in 1975. In 1981, he decided to leave full-time education, and took on the stipendiary position of Rector of the Langtons and Stonton Wyville. Other responsibilities followed: he was made an Hon. Canon of Lei­cester Cathedral; he was elected to serve as Chairman of the House of Clergy; and, in 1986, after five years at the Langtons, he was appointed Archdeacon of Lough­borough, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.

With his active mind, he was not going to sit back and do nothing in retirement. He was appointed Bishop’s Officer for Clergy and Widows and Retired Clergy. A member of the Ecclesiastical Law Society for many years, he became the Vice-Chairman, then later Hon. Executive Officer, and latterly an Hon. Life Member. He also became a member of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and maintained an interest in Welsh canon law. Since 1991, he had been a member of the Selden Society — a learned society concerned with the study of English legal history. He contributed articles on the Old Testament, religious education, and canon law to relevant journals.

With such a vast knowledge of canon law, and with ecclesiastical law at his fingertips, Hughie was well-equipped for the position of archdeacon, and he was well re­­spected by the clergy of the Lough­borough archdeaconry. He and his fellow archdeacon David Silk worked well with Bishop Richard Rutt, to whom they were both close.

Hugie is also remembered by the laity as a gifted preacher. His close friend Sir David Samworth told me that he had heard Hughie preach 100 times, and he always had a beginning, middle, and end to sermons preached without a written note. On occasion, he preached in Welsh. My ministry was in the other archdeaconry, but I belonged to a cell-group of which Hughie was a member, and we met regularly to talk about our hopes and, sometimes, frustration.

With a life and ministry rooted in Christian theology, Hughie’s faith shone from him. He had a great sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye, always greeting everyone with a lovely smile. Never once did I hear him criticise anyone, or lose his cool.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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