Hon Alderman Della Jones MBE

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Tributes have been paid this month to a remarkable lady who died recently, aged 91. Her leadership made a significant difference to Dorset

Della Jones receiving Cancer Research UK’s Flame of Hope award.

the age of 91, was a dedicated servant to the community – both North Dorset and the wider county. She was first elected to North Dorset District Council in 1974, representing the Lower Winterborne Ward.
She was chosen as vice-chairman of the Environmental Services committee just two years later, becoming chairman in 1979, a position she held for nine years. During this time she also championed the viability of village schools and was instrumental in founding Dunbury School.
Della was delighted to be made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987 for her services to tourism and the community. Her achievements included chairing the tourism committee of the National Association of District Councils. She naturally excelled at promoting tourism in Dorset.

The Della Jones Mile
In May 1999, Della was elected chairman of North Dorset District Council (NDDC) – a job she relished. She was widely known as an honourable, tenacious, intelligent and charming public servant. Eventually, in 2011 – amid concerns for her husband’s health and after 45 years service – Della retired from NDDC and was appointed an honorary alderman.
Her lifetime of community service also included 21 years as a Dorset county councillor. In 2017 she attended the final meeting of members and former members of NDDC at Nordon in Blandford, when the council became part of the Dorset Councils Partnership – and then of Dorset Council.
She said Nordon had been the nerve centre of her community activities for more than 45 years, and it had been ‘an enormous privilege and honour to be elected to represent local folk’.
As a breast cancer survivor, Della’s nominated chairman’s charity was Cancer Research UK, of which she was the Dorset Patron. In 2012 she was presented with a Flame of Hope honorary fellowship award from Cancer Research UK for spearheading the fundraising of an incredible £250,000 for the charity.
In addition to her council work, Della was a school governor and chairman of governors at The Blandford School for many years. She established the Della Jones Mile, a four lap race at The Blandford School. The race has been held annually for more than 45 years and Della was always at the annual sports day in person to present the trophy to the winner.
Sally Wilson, Headteacher at Blandford School said: ‘Della will be fondly remembered for her generous support of young people, her energy, enthusiasm and zest. The Della Jones Mile is her legacy.’

Who’s in charge?
Della was married to David for more than 65 years until his death in 2016. The couple met in 1947 on Leigh-on-Sea railway station in Essex where David literally fell into Della’s arms! They were married in Romford and lived in several locations before moving to Dorset in the 1960s. They settled in Winterborne Zelston, where they ran the Red Post Filling Station and developed their smallholding at Middle Farm. The couple had two daughters and two grandchildren. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2017, when they shared the success of their marriage, saying: ‘Only one of us is in charge!’
When asked which one was the boss, without giving the game away, Della responded: ‘That’s the secret of our success.’
When the Somerset and Dorset Railway closed in the 1960s, the couple worked to secure a lasting reminder by installing the buffer-stop at the ‘end of the line’ in Station Court, Blandford. They also ensured the retention of one of the 1862/63 flood arches over the Stour. Della and David spent much of their retirement travelling on some of the world’s greatest railway journeys.
After David died, Della continued to support her charities with passion and commitment, while enjoying the warmth of her family and many friends.
Fanny Charles, former editor of the BVM, who knew Della for many years, said: ‘Della loved people – and they loved her. She was a wonderful public servant.’
Councillor Val Pothecary, chairman of Dorset Council, said: ‘I feel very fortunate to have been counted among those friends. She was an inspiration to many, a warm human being, and a devoted family woman. Rest in peace dear Della … and thank you for a job well done.’
Much of the work of councillors goes unseen. Della dedicated her life to community service and her leadership made a significant difference to Dorset.

  • with thanks to Nicci Brown
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