FIRST PERSON: Pontypool ex-soldier and Legion stalwart
6:14pm Wednesday 12th February 2014 in News
Ex-serviceman, retired senior police officer and civilian and financial investigator with Gwent Police, Mike Jones talks to SOPHIE BROWNSON about his career and work as British Legion member.
“I WAS born in Garndiffaith just outside of Pontypool, on April 20, 1956.
I then moved to Talywain with my parents Marjorie and Raymon Jones.
My dad was a butcher and we moved to Cyncoed in Cardiff when I was around the age of five.
My mother is still living in that same house now.
In 1962 to 1967 I attended Lisvane Primary and Junior School in Cardiff before moving on to Whitchurch High School in Cardiff.
I wasn’t very academic in school. I liked practical lessons such as woodwork, carpentry and technical drawing.
I left school aged 15 and joined the Army as a boy entrant in 1971.
One of the reasons I left school was to pursue my carpentry and get a carpentry apprenticeship, which I could get through the army.
I joined the HM Forces Army as a junior leader in the Royal Engineers regiment stationed at Dover and, following my training as a carpenter and joiner, after two years I moved into the regular Army to continue my training in the training depot near Aldershot.
I moved to Osnabruck, Germany, for four years where I was posted with 25 Combat Engineer Regiment.
From there I went to Denmark, Newquay, completing two tours stationed in Northern Ireland with this unit, one as an engineer building road check points and security measures and one as an infantry soldier.
I was then promoted to lance corporal and attained my HGV 2 driving Licence, as well as instructed at HGV2 level, until 1979.
I was then posted as a training NCO at the Royal Engineer Training Regiment at Aldershot.
This all took place between the years 1971 to 1978 and it was all good fun.
I have no regrets joining the Army as I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But in 1979 I decided that the grass looked greener, so I left the Army and joined the police force.
My interest in the police force came from my working closely with the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the army.
I decided that I liked the way they work and I thought that it looked like good fun.
I worked on the beat as a constable on two years before spending two years working on the police motorbikes on traffic patrol.
One of my funniest memories of this time was when I was called to Cuckoo Bridge near Duffryn to a road traffic accident where a man had come off his motorbike. I arrived ahead of the ambulance crews and looked at the scene. All I could see was a liver and what looked like stomach contents.
But it was a big relief when the chap that was sat there said he had just been to the butchers – so he was all right.
Another surreal moment as a negotiator was causing the traffic to be stopped at about 4pm on a weekday on the second Severn crossing to talk to a person threatening to jump.
The traffic was stopped for over an hour as I couldn’t hear him with the noise, the silence was then surreal and the situation ended without the individual harming himself.
I was then promoted to uniform Sergeant in 1990 and went to Blackwood for 12 to 18 months before CID in 1991.
I then came back to Newport on the Regional Crime Squad as Detective Sergeant from 1991 to 1992.
Then in 1996 I was made uniform Inspector in Risca and then a Detective Inspector in Pontypool returning to the Monmouthshire area as a CID in 1998.
I married my wife Angela in December 2001 who is a police Sergeant in Newport and I have four children.
In 2005 I found myself in a position where I was able to retire, but I started back the next day as civilian investigator within the professional standards department of the police for three days a week where I investigate anti-corruption matters.
Alongside my work I enjoy travel and love going to Greece on holiday.
I also travel to my holiday home in West Wales where I take part in fishing and water sports along with my wife and family.
I am still in touch with friends from the army and police and a crowd of us meet every year or two.
Following my service in the Army I joined the Royal British Legion in 1988 and since retirement I am now vice-chairman of the Marshfield and District branch.
I joined the legion to help others as I was conscious that service men and women needed support when they left the forces. I wanted to be able to use the legion motto-to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who serve.
The Royal British Legion is not just run for two weeks of the year during the Poppy Appeal, it is run 365 days of the year providing support.
The age demographic for the Royal British Legion is also reducing all the time with the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I am also involved in fundraising for the Poppy Appeal and I am the County Poppy Appeal coordinator.
In 2009 I ran the London marathon for the charity and did it again in 2012, this time with my wife.
I also take part in many other fundraising events throughout the year including a up coming Elvis Night in October and the Great Gwent Poppy Run in September this year
Last year the Poppy Appeal raised £273,863.45 by September 2013, and this year the Poppy Appeal in Gwent has raised £256,493.76 and are six percent off our target.
We have until September this year to achieve that.
Nationally the Royal British Legion spends £1.6 million a week to carry out the service it provides.
As well as this I am a county youth officer, where I liaise with youth organisations in the area to develop links and encourage affiliation with branches. I work with youth groups such as the Army Cadets and Air Cadets.
I am also a case worker and visit beneficiaries in their homes and provide support to the British Legion by helping members of the service and their family.”
l The Royal British Legion always needs volunteers and if you want to get involved with the work Mike carries out, contact him on 07875 089933. To find out what is going on in your area visit http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/counties/wales