A Caerphilly man who was one of the first students at the Newport Film School has retired after more than 40 years at the BBC.

Dave Jones, now 73, was one of the five students in the film school when it first opened in 1966 as part of Newport Art College.

From the age of 13, Mr Jones was passionate about film and wanting to make feature films.

The National Wales:

“I used to walk down the streets in the night in Caerphilly and imagine I was on the scene of a film. I would film little documentaries all the time on my eight-millimetre camera. I just wanted to make films.

“Whenever my parents took me to London, I used to insist on going to all the film studios.

“On October 26, 1966, I became one of the first students at the Newport Film School, which is still going today but is now run by the University of South Wales.

“It was run at the time by ex-BBC film editor Harley Jones. We were based at the Fairoak annex on Church Road. It was a three-year diploma and the only film school in Wales.

“We would make our own films there and built the studios ourselves. One of the lecturers was called John Greerson, he was known as the father of documentaries. He made some of the first documentaries."

After completing his time at the film school, Mr Jones went on to work at a small film company in Cardiff.

While there, he would do work pick up work for the BBC and in 1972, at the age of 21, he was called into the Beeb and given a job as a news cameraman.

“I never wanted to be a news cameraman but took it,” he said.

The National Wales:

The same year he joined the BBC, Mr Jones filmed the first miners’ strike, and the following year he won the Royal Television Society Cameraman of the Year award.

“Nobody has joined the BBC and then after a year won such a big award,” said Mr Jones.

“The ’84 miners’ strike was very difficult to film because of the hostility to the press and the BBC," he said.

"I interviewed Arthur Scargill and filmed the picket lines.

“I enjoyed filming it even though it was difficult to film. We would have stones thrown at us in the middle of the night. But it was a marvellous opportunity to get pictures.”

The National Wales:

Another highlight of Mr Jones’ days at the broadcaster was using its helicopter to cover big stories.

“One of the stories I used the helicopter was when we followed the Queen’s boat from Pembroke Dock to Cardiff.

The National Wales:

“I also did Huw Edwards’ first story on a roundabout in Cardiff. I also went to Bristol to interview Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda when they set up Wings and I got their autographs on a card for my wife.

“I also filmed their car ride from Bristol to Cardiff.

“I also filmed Princess Diana’s visits to Cardiff and Newport. She was great to film. She loved the camera and always gave lovely smiles to the camera.

“I will always remember that about her. When she died, I did the memorial in Cardiff and will always remember all the flowers and people who went to Llandaff Cathedral.”

Mr Jones also filmed Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

The National Wales:

Before his retirement, Mr Jones was the only person in the BBC’s news team to have worked at all three of their studios.

“People could not believe that I had been there all that time, from the first news studio to the current.”

Mr Jones has taken part in countless memorable interviews and experiences throughout his career – and has been acknowledged for his work, he won the JR Freeman Wales News Awards’ Cameraman of the Year four times and four or five other awards.

During his career at the BBC, Mr Jones went back quite a few times to the University of South Wales’ film school – which evolved from the Newport Film School – and would delight the students with tales of how he began his career following graduating from the school.

Mr Jones retired from the BBC on May 28, 2021 after 49 years and 8 months as a cameraman covering countless stories.

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