For­mer Para wants to share fam­ily’s se­cret recipe

Bangor Mail - - YOUR VIEWS -

ANTO JONES has trav­elled the world as a soldier, Thai boxer and com­mu­ni­ca­tions en­gi­neer.

So never in his wildest dreams could he have imag­ined one day tak­ing a 200 year-old fam­ily cream recipe and turn­ing it into one of the most hotly an­tic­i­pated health prod­ucts in years.

The Eli­awen tra­di­tional Welsh salve is be­ing pur­sued by a num­ber of high street brands, in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers and phar­macy chains.

Ianto is cur­rently weigh­ing up his op­tions while com­plet­ing a se­ries of tests with the BioCom­pos­ite Cen­tre at Ban­gor Uni­ver­sity, from his bases in Llangefni and on the new Me­nai Sci­ence Park.

Born on Anglesey and schooled at Ys­gol Uwchradd Bod­ed­ern, the 50 year-old has en­joyed a colour­ful ca­reer, borne of his love of sport.

He was of­fered a schol­ar­ship to an English col­lege as a teenager but was later re­jected be­cause as a first­language Welsh speaker his grasp of the lan­guage was not deemed strong enough.

“I ended up on a youth train­ing scheme (YTS) do­ing sport in a lo­cal leisure cen­tre and then at col­lege do­ing dif­fer­ent bits and pieces, like sci­ence, en­gi­neer­ing and cook­ing,” said Ianto.

“It was the early 1980s and I was lack­ing a bit of di­rec­tion, so I de­cided to join the Army, specif­i­cally the 2nd Bat­tal­ion of the Parachute Reg­i­ment.

“I went down and trained in Alder­shot and the next thing I was part of this spe­cial­ist group go­ing be­hind en­emy lines, in North­ern Ire­land mainly at that time. We were on the verge of go­ing to the Gulf War and were in a hold­ing area ready to fly out there, but it didn’t hap­pen in the end.”

The men­tal and phys­i­cal chal­lenges of mil­i­tary life be­gan to take their toll on Ianto, so he left Paras and took a dif­fer­ent path.

“It was al­ways tough go­ing back-and-to to Ire­land but it be­came al­most im­pos­si­ble; be­ing from Holy­head I know so many peo­ple from Ire­land and have so many friends that it was hor­ri­ble,” he said.

“Re-join­ing so­ci­ety af­ter that is a strug­gle. If you’re in the Parachute Reg­i­ment it’s one of the hardest groups of all to be in, so get­ting back to nor­mal­ity took four or five years.

“Try­ing to find a job with the skills you have is not easy, be­cause there are so few in­dus­tries they can be trans­ferred to, but I man­aged to se­cure a po­si­tion as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions en­gi­neer in Lon­don and that re­ally suited me.”

With his high-level se­cu­rity back­ground, Ianto found him­self at the fore­front of the newly emerg­ing fi­bre-op­tics sec­tor, in­stalling sys­tems in some of the UK’s most pres­ti­gious build­ings.

“I did jobs at White­hall and the Cab­i­net Of­fice, places like that,” he said.

“Be­cause my se­cu­rity clear­ance was high I was one of the few who could at that time, so my mil­i­tary back­ground did help me there at a time when fi­bre-op­tics was be­gin­ning to boom.”

He has worked in the sec­tor ever since, in­ter­mit­tently. Tak­ing time out to travel the Far East, in­clud­ing Thai­land, where he spent much of his time cook­ing and sight­see­ing.

Oh, and keep­ing him­self fit in a rather bru­tal man­ner.

“I did quite a bit of Thai box­ing out there and re­ally en­joyed it,” said Ianto.

“It’s very hard but the dis­ci­pline is some­thing I liked, and the com­pe­ti­tion.”

Re­turn­ing to the UK, he spent time sup­port­ing home­less peo­ple at night shel­ters along the North Wales coast while still work­ing as an en­gi­neer, be­fore de­cid­ing to do what no other mem­ber of the fam­ily had done be­fore – tak­ing the Eli­awen salve to mar­ket.

The for­mula was first brought to light by his grand­mother, who told the recipe to his fa­ther and used it to treat burns and other skin ail­ments among fam­ily mem­bers and the com­mu­nity.

Ianto was first shown the recipe – which in­cludes the unique heal­ing pow­ers of nat­u­ral lo­cal in­gre­di­ents – as a child, and de­cided, when his fa­ther passed away 10 years ago, to fi­nally sup­ply it to a wider au­di­ence.

“I lost my mum at a very early age so it was my dad that re­ally made me aware of the cream, he is the one I would see work­ing on it at home,” said Ianto.

“I grew up with peo­ple a lot older than me – my mum was 47 and my dad 49 when I was born – and there were my grand­par­ents, so I’m a very tra­di­tional man who re­ally wants to give some­thing back and be­lieves in na­ture, and or­ganic ma­te­ri­als.

“The essence of Eli­awen is some­thing we will never lose. It’s not about money or sell­ing mil­lions of tubs of this cream, though of course I would love to see it be­come suc­cess­ful.

“For me it’s about fin­ish­ing what they started, and this salve re­ally does work. We’ve tested it on dif­fer­ent ail­ments and con­di­tions and it has come back as hav­ing a pos­i­tive ef­fect. We want to be 100% ready to go with ev­ery­thing in place this sum­mer.”

Môn Nat­u­rals will have a stand at the Na­tional Eisteddfod in Cardiff in Au­gust, where Ianto will take thou­sands of units of the cream and pro­vide fam­i­lies with fun ac­tiv­i­ties in homage to Anglesey and the story be­hind his unique prod­uct with a King Arthur theme and sto­ries of how it has changed the lives of hun­dreds of peo­ple on the is­land and beyond.

Over the years, he has gar­nered a long list of tes­ti­mo­ni­als from cus­tomers whose in­juries cleared-up within 24 hours of us­ing the cream, which can be ap­plied di­rectly to a burn, a sore and wounds. It so­lid­i­fies on the sur­face be­fore re­gen­er­at­ing tis­sue cells; a gauze must then be wrapped gen­tly over so it is given time to heal. Ianto has even writ­ten a 20,000 word the­sis on the cream’s medic­i­nal merit, to aid patent­ing re­quire­ments and aca­demic in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Last year, his com­pany Môn Nat­u­rals was short­listed for the Wales Start-Up Awards in Cardiff, fin­ish­ing run­ner-up in the man­u­fac­tur­ing cat­e­gory.

He now has an­other chance of suc­cess at the Wales FSB (Fed­er­a­tion Small Busi­nesses) cel­e­brat­ing Small Busi­ness Awards for 2018, in the Busi­ness & Prod­uct In­no­va­tion sec­tion.

He ad­mits the project is “al­ready big­ger” than he an­tic­i­pated, but is a drop in the ocean in com­par­i­son to his over­all vi­sion.

“My dream is to cre­ate an eco­cen­tre on Anglesey of 100 acres or more,” said Ianto.

“I would like to in­tro­duce so­lar pan­els, grow or­ganic fruit and veg­eta­bles in poly­tun­nels and re­ally give back to the com­mu­nity through health and well­be­ing.

“We live in a so­ci­ety where un­healthy fast foods are ev­ery­where, so I’d like to ed­u­cate peo­ple that nat­u­ral is best. That’s my pas­sion, and hope­fully us­ing the Eli­awen cream as a spring­board I’ll get there one day.”

See www.mon­nat­u­ral­

Ianto Jones, who runs Môn Nat­u­rals on Anglesey. In­set: Ianto served as a para­trooper

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