Bishop Noël Jones

BISHOP Noël Debroy Jones, who has died aged 76, was a priest with the gifts of being a good listener and great communicator who held forthright Anglo- Catholic views, but was also a man of fun.

He was the Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1989 until 2003 when he retired to Yorkshire where he became an honorary assistant bishop in York Diocese.

He and his wife, Joyce, lived near Pickering but made their spiritual home at All Saints Church, North Street, York, where he often said Mass and was a friend to many of its congregation.

He was also involved with the Society of Mary and was Ward Superior of the ward of Our Lady of North Street.

As an assistant bishop in the diocese he worked closely with the then Bishop of Whitby, Robert Ladds, often taking Confirmation services.

He was the classical Anglican bishop, but without pomposity, and a man of great warmth who was fun to be with.

That sense of fun was seen when he opened a school adventure playground in the Isle of Man and to the delight of the pupils, and staff, then climbed the steps and slid down the slide.

Noted for his very forthright views, especially in opposition to the ordination of women to the priesthood, fellow bishops recall him as someone who, although he expressed himself clearly and powerfully in General Synod and bishops' meetings, did so with charm and was well respected.

When he went to the Isle of Man, he was faced with a very different, relatively low church, background to his own, and a diocese with a village way of life. But he adapted to that life and always talked through his theological differences.

He was a Welshman, born on Christmas Day – hence his name Nol – who loved his rugby and always made sure he watched the international matches. Tall and physically imposing he is remembered for his cheerful nature and permanent smile.

He loved meeting people and they enjoyed his company. He also had the ability to laugh at himself.

Born in Monmouthshire, he was educated at Haberdashers' Monmouth School before studying firstly at the University of Wales, in Lampter, and then at Wells College. He was ordained priest in 1956, and consecrated bishop in 1989 when translated to Sodor and Man.

His ministry as a curate was spent in Wales, firstly in Monmouth and then in Newport, but in 1960 he went to Nigeria where he spent two years as vicar of Kano.

For the next 27 years he was Chaplain of the Fleet with the last five of them also being Archdeacon of the Royal Navy.

During that time he had a variety of postings including Brunei, Borneo and Saudi Arabia. It was while in Singapore that he met and, in 1969, married, his wife.

He was a Canon of Gibraltar Cathedral, and in 1986 was made a Commander of the Bath for his services to the Royal Navy.

From 1983 he was also an honorary chaplain to the Queen.

Bishop Jones, who died on August 28 in St Catherine's Hospice, Scarborough, is survived by his widow, Joyce, daughter Vanessa who is an author, son Ben, an actor , and a granddaughter Rose.

A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at All Saints Church, North Street, York, on Monday, at noon, followed by private committal. The homily will be given by the former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope.