Sir Wynn Hugh-Jones

THE flag at North Wilts Golf Club has been flying at half mast in memory of former influential diplomat Sir Wynn Hugh-Jones who died on July 5 aged 95.

A thanksgiving service is to be held on Tuesday (July 23) at 11.30am at St James Church, Avebury.

Golf lover Sir Wynn lived the last 30 years of his life in Wiltshire, first in Avebury and later in Devizes.

While living in Avebury he led the conservation group Avebury In Danger and fought to stop Avebury Manor being turned into an Elizabethan theme park.

His son Rob said: "My father, Sir Wynn Hugh-Jones (‘Hugh’ to many) led an unusually eventful life. Dad was a real beacon in our lives and we will all miss him greatly. He was also a very committed public servant as a potted history of his life makes clear."

For 25 years he was a senior British diplomat and then became heavily involved in Britain’s entry into the EU in 1971.

His son said the views of his pro-European father on Brexit were almost unprintable. He said: "He was a very committed European, and saw Britain’s role as being at the very heart of Europe, shaping its future from within.

Sir Hugh was born in Llangollen in 1923, son of a Welsh County School Headmaster and Yorkshire mother. He was educated at Ludlow Grammar School and Selwyn College, Cambridge. He served in the wartime RAF, including in Italy, France and North Africa, where he acquired a keen interest in international affairs.

His son said: "He returned to Cambridge in 1946 to study history, and in 1947 won entry into the Diplomatic Service.

"In 1970 he decided to change career, having found in the Congo, where he had to evacuate his young family twice, that family well-being and foreign trouble-shooting were no longer compatible. The FCO reluctantly agreed but then offered him a series of challenging one-off jobs he could not refuse.

"The first was three intensive months with the BBC and ITV management promoting better relations with the FCO. The second - the big one - made him official co-ordinator of the Great Debate.

"This was the campaign, mounted by then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, throughout the country to secure public support for the terms of entry he had negotiated with the European Communities.

"It was in fact the largest information campaign ever conducted in Britain in peace time, and led to the historic vote of Parliament in favour, in October 1971.

The third challenge was to work with Ministers Geoffrey Rippon and Geoffrey Howe in the Cabinet Office to steer the European Communities legislation through Parliament, and the fourth was to organise advice to British business and industry on the new prospects in Europe.

For seven years he was Secretary-General of the Liberal Party. In that capacity he steered the Party, under the leadership of David Steel, through the formation of the alliance with the new Social Democratic Party.

In 1984 he was elected joint treasurer of the Liberal Party for four years and took time out to help other voluntary organisations and perform speaking tours in the United States on international affairs.

He retired to Avebury, in 1987 with his wife Oswynne, only to find himself immediately recruited to be founder chairman of Avebury in Danger, the conservation society established at the time to defend the World Heritage site from commercial developers - which it did successfully.

He then retired to his memoirs, golf at North Wilts, gardening and the couple's beloved Algarve, eventually downsizing to Devizes in 2012.

He was awarded the LVO in 1962, and Knighted in 1984. He leaves his widow Oswynne, three children Julia, Robert and Kate, and two grandchildren James and Leo.