Alan Jones, a distinguished journalist, the founder of the Delta Press Agency and a stalwart member of the Liverpool Press Club, has died aged 75.
A tribute penned by Chris Johnson of Mercury Press follows.
A proud Liverpudlian, he was one of the most talented reporters of his generation and a leading member of the national newspaper press corps throughout the second half of the 20th Century.
Renowned as a courageous seeker after truth, Alan combined his writing skills with a sharp intellect that was prized by editors and envied by colleagues.
An engaging yet unassuming man, he had a gift for putting people at their ease and used his innate charm to persuade interview subjects to disclose to him their innermost thoughts.
Alan combined his God-given gifts with real determination and long hours of toil, to create the seemingly endless series of remarkable and revealing stories that flowed from his pen.
An unblemished reputation was his most jealously-guarded asset and was the unshakable foundation on which his stories and features graced the pages of the press.
Completely trusted by editors, Alan operated with unerring honesty and possessed an in-built moral compass that was the true hallmark of the man.
Not only a successful journalist, he was a great family man and an excellent judge of character. People confided in him, knowing that he would always respect their confidence.
The son of high street grocer, Stan Jones, Alan was born on 23rd August 1937 and attended Abbeyholme School in Wavertree.
He was a schoolboy during The Blitz and recounted with glee how he and his childhood pals scoured the district, competing to find the biggest and most-prized fragments of bomb shrapnel that littered the streets.
As a scholar he excelled in English, set his sights on a job in newspapers and began his career as a junior reporter on the Widnes Weekly News.
His fledgling career was interrupted by conscription into National Service. In his teens he entered the Royal Signals Regiment where his postings included a spell in Germany.
After an 18-month stint in uniform Alan returned to his profession and soon landed a plum job as a reporter and later as a sub-editor with the Daily Express.
It was during this period that he first frequented the Liverpool Press Club. Alan spoke fondly of the characters that inhabited the Club in those days and the spirit of camaraderie that he valued so highly.
In the late 1960s Alan seized an opportunity to start freelancing in his native Liverpool and established the “Delta Press” agency. He set-up home with his wife Ann and was regular contributor to the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, majoring on medical stories, and establishing a reputation for delivering celebrity exclusives and gritty human interest tales .
A man of many parts, Alan was also keen gardener and an enthusiastic member of the Alpine Garden Society, expertly nurturing prize-winning specimens of rare and beautiful mountain plants in his own greenhouse and garden.
When the Liverpool Press Club went into liquidation for the second time in 1989 lesser men gave-up on the project, but Alan resolved that the heritage and camaraderie of the Club should not be squandered.
With typical modesty he founded an informal group which he named “The Friends of Liverpool Press Club” and set about organising a series of Christmas lunches.
On these foundations laid by Alan, sufficient confidence was gathered to re-launch the Liverpool Press Club. In 2006 he surrendered his desire to remain in the background and agreed to serve as its President bringing his TV producer friend Johnnie Hamp be his guest of honour.
Ex-Northern News Editor of the Sunday Mirror Ken Bennett paid a heartfelt tribute to Alan. Also a former Press Club President, Ken said: “Alan Jones has been my dearest friend and closest confidant for more than 50 years.
“He was a truly remarkable journalist, respected throughout the media world for his professionalism and integrity.
“His love for his colleagues and the Liverpool Press Club was legendary.
“His passion to maintain and grow the Club and foster its worldwide relationships has been a shining example to anyone, of any age, who is proud to be journalist and proud to have worked or hailed from Liverpool.
“I knew Alan as ‘Jones The Bones’ with love and affection. His passing is indeed a very sad day for us all, and particularly for his wife Ann, their wonderful family and his wide circle of friends and colleagues the city of Liverpool.”
Press Club organiser Chris Johnson added: “I’m truly honoured to have counted Alan as a friend. I got to know him over the last twenty years and was privileged to earn his trust.
“Alan was unique and I never heard a bad word spoken about him.
“He was real gentleman who simply exuded charm and combined a great sense of humour with unshakable integrity that endeared him everyone he met.
“His most amazing talent was the knack he possessed of effortlessly influencing people to do the right thing, usually with nothing more than a wrinkled grin, gently raised eyebrow or a frown of dismay.
“Winning Alan’s friendship was an accolade in itself and conferred on its recipients the coveted membership of an exclusive band of brothers.
“One of his great friends was the late Roman Catholic priest Fr. Charles Lynch, whom he met at the Press Club. It was heart-warming to behold the genuine esteem and deep respect which those two came for share each other.
“With Alan’s passing a real giant of our generation has been lost. We really will never see his like again.”
Alan had fought a brave battle, with a debilitating illness, for more than a year. He died despite the best efforts of doctors and nurses after 10 days as a patient at University Hospital Aintree.
Alan is survived by Ann, his devoted wife of 41 years, their son Matthew and daughter Annette and their cherished grandchildren.