Snowsport England were sad to learn of the recent passing of one of our longstanding members, Ian Jones.
Richard Barbour reflects on this influential character and collates a few of the many messages from those shocked to learn of his untimely death.
I first got to know Ian when I was a rookie instructor back in the early 1990s. He taught me about the art of a customer-centric ski hire department and inspired me to get behind the counter to assist him. He always, without fail, gave customers a smiling start to their visit. As his manager for 10 years I found him to be a tremendously supportive colleague and he was “Mr Misting”: there was never a blocked misting nozzle on his watch and the slope always ran well after he had done the weekly service.
As an instructor he was incredibly reliable, inspiring generations of children and their parents to take up snow sport for life. He loved teaching children’s groups during the school holidays and getting them through their award badges. Several of those he taught to ski as youngsters have become coaches and instructors travelling all over the world. He loved our ski centre training trips to Norway, reciting anecdotes with great clarity and hilarity like the time his bunk bed slats collapsed and he landed on his bunk-mate below.
Ian progressively lost his hearing and, in later years, benefitted from a cochlea implant. As his hearing evidently failed I sensed that he also possessed mischievous, selective, hearing. Whilst he could tune out the screams of children he could always hear “do you fancy a pint after work?” from 50 paces. I was only telling anecdotes about him on a course the day after he died, unaware that he had. The ski centre knew something was wrong when dependable Ian didn’t make it to a requested lesson.
Many friends and colleagues attended Ian’s funeral in person and online and here are a few comments:
Incredibly sad. Spent many hours teaching schools with Ian as a new instructor and learnt so much from him. Always so supportive and just loved teaching people.
Always smiling, so supportive towards customers and colleagues. Amazing work at hospitals too. I only chatted with him last weekend, can’t believe it, we will all miss him so much.
He only helped me to my car last week. Can’t believe it. So sorry.
My children always knew him as “deaf Ian”. He taught three or four of them over the years. He was a lovely man.
All I can say that he was a great bloke with a big heart and a great sense of humour. He was always willing to help and did it with a smile. I’ve known him since I was six. He taught me to ski, then I worked with him for many years and became good friends.
And from Sue Dermody, Head of Ski School at Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre: My mate Jonesy. A friend and colleague, excellent ski teacher and loved by all his skiers, even those he didn’t hear! He was always willing to go the extra mile, was hard working and loved by all who knew him. My heart goes out to your family. You are terribly missed and your legend will live on.
A celebration of Ian’s life will take place at Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre in the coming weeks.
Ian snowblading in Norway, training to help disabled skiers and being a poster model for the NHS