The FAMILY of John Jones, a Salvation Army stalwart, has paid tribute to his hard work and kindness.

John came to Devizes as a two-week old baby, and the town soon became home. He lived on Sheep Street and went to Southbroom, then Devizes Grammar School.

When he left school, he picked up an apprenticeship with HG Chives signwriters.

But his true calling was the Salvation Army, which he first became intertwined with at age 7. He had become a member of the Salvation Army band alongside his two brothers Edward and William, as well as his sisters Alice, Elizabeth and Peggy Jones.

In 1956, aged 20, he entered the Salvation Army training college to become an officer, and in 1957 he was commissioned as a lieutenant and sent to Norwich citadel as a youth officer.

During his time in Norfolk, he met and fell in love with Pearl Stanton, who became his wife in 1960.

In 1967, he returned with his family to Devizes, after his request to be appointed there.

He wanted to save the town’s Salvation Army building, which had been condemned. He worked tirelessly over the next four years, together with many members of the town, and carried out several fundraising events.

John Jones

John Jones

He even entered in carnival in 1968, with a fairytale themed float entitled “it’s no fairytale - the Salvation army needs £10,000 for a new hall” and won first prize.

Other fundraisers included a sponsored walk from Devizes to Bath, with the participation of dozens of Southbroom Junior school children. Another included the ‘Mad March Marathon’ where he joined Charles Hale, Bill Underwood, Bill Jones and Mike McConnell to walk from London to Devizes along the Kennet and Avon canal - all while dressed as mad hatters.

They managed to raise enough money to buy and refurbish a property in Station Road for a new hall.

After accomplishing his mission in Devizes, it was tine for something new. John and Pearl - and their children Stephen, Heather and Nicola - moved to Brazil in March 1972, to be in charge of an orphanage for 40 boys in Joinville, in the south of the country.

Several appointments followed, leading churches, training youth and officers and in 1983 they pioneered the social and evangelical work of the Salvation Army, planting churches in the poverty and drought afflicted Northeast Brazil.

Social relief work included providing electricity and artesian wells in drought areas, working in conjunction with the UK Salvation Army and the government of Canada, as well as World Vision, Diakonia, Helf der Bruder and several other relief organisations. After a brief spell in Brighton, he was appointed back to Brazil in 1992.

Promoted to the rank of Colonels, John and Pearl received their final appointments as territorial commanders in charge of all the social and religious work of the Salvation Army in Brazil. He retired from active duty in 2001. He authored the book ‘Beyond the Ranges’ telling about their experiences during their time in Brazil.

John died on May 26, at his home in Lancing. He was 85.