Tributes paid to former principal of Isle College, Harry Jones, who has died aged 86

Harry Jones has died at the age of 86.

Harry Jones has died at the age of 86. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to the former principal of the Isle College, Wisbech, Harry Jones, who has died at the age of 86.

Mr Jones took over at the school – now the College of West Anglia - in 1978 and championed community engagement until his retirement in 1993.

He was born and raised in County Durham, before moving to Coventry in 1940, where he and his parents experienced air raids.

Harry was one of very few to gain a place at King Edward VI school, Nuneaton, where he captained the boy’s rugby team, eventually leading to selection for Warwickshire’s under-18 side.

A keen writer and actor, Harry also edited the school’s magazine and played Prospero and Bottom in school productions.


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After national service as a technical instructor, he went on to Birmingham University, where he met his wife, Carol.

He became a lecturer in English in West Bromwich and then a senior lecturer in liberal studies in Ipswich, where he supported the movement to liberalise traditional technical colleges to form new universities.

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As head of department at Northampton College of Further Education, vice principal at Dacorum College, Hemel Hempstead, and principal at Borehamwood College of Further Education, he developed a vision of a student-centred combination of sixth-form college, technical college and adult education, acting as a resource for the whole community.

His vision became a reality when he joined the Isle College in the late 1970s, and he encouraged staff to engage in the life of the town.

During his time in Cambridgeshire he was an active member of local organisations, and often gave talks to local societies and published history studies of life in the Fens.

After his retirement in 1993, he became skilled at using computers and the internet and enjoyed literature, film, theatre, music, football and politics, supporting the Labour party, which his wife says he “believed he owed his opportunities in life.”

He is survived by his wife, sons Gavin and Duncan and five grandchildren; Edward, Natasha, Louise, Sara and Jeremy.

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