Steward celebrates a decade of making dreams a reality for disabled music fans
HE’S the music fan who has become a familiar face to many at the Motorpoint Arena in the past 10 years – and they love him so much they write letters of thanks and make repeat bookings.
At an age where he could easily be retired, Allan Jones is celebrating his work anniversary by showing no sign of slowing down in his role as part of the stewarding team at the venue – making dreams come true for many disabled customers who have met their heroes thanks to him.
As part of his role, the 67-year-old from Morganstown, Cardiff, makes sure people attending performances who are physically or mentally disabled have the support needed to reach their seats or vantage point.
He is so well thought of by those who know him that he regularly gets letters of thanks.
It’s a labour of love for Allan, who took voluntary redundancy from his job in manufacturing a decade ago to work in live events – something he had dabbled in on a part-time basis before.
This year he celebrates another impressive landmark – 40 years since his first stewarding post at a Five Nations international at the Arms Park in 1977.
“I worked in manufacturing all my life and the last job I had was as a senior production foreman at Panasonic in Newport,” he said. “I took voluntary redundancy as I could see the way the industry was going with factories closing. At the age I was then and the length of service, I had a good pay-off and then I thought I’d look around for something different.”
Calling on all of his years of working as a steward at live events, Allan took on the role at the Motorpoint and he’s loved every minute.
“It’s called ‘live access,’ so if you need extra help with a wheelchair for instance you ring a dedicated line in the box office,” said Allan, who also works as chief steward at Glamorgan County Cricket Club.
“Myself and a lady called Lynne Hughes who I work with meet them and greet them, then I show them upstairs, explain everything to them and make them feel comfortable.”
He added: “It’s all about treating our disabled customers with dignity and respect. We want them to feel extra comfortable, to escape their lives for a couple of hours and go home thinking, ‘yeah I had a nice time there.’
Allan, who is married and has two sons and two grandchildren, has many very touching stories about people he has helped over the years.
And if there is one thread that binds his stories together it’s the power of music to affect a change to people’s lives.
There was the 16-year-old girl whom he helped meet Alfie Boe backstage after a show at the arena, with the two singing together and Boe forgetting his words much to the hilarity of everyone present. Then there was a young fan who got a lot more than she bargained for when she met the rock band Paramore and a T-shirt she had made got worn at the gig by singer Hayley Williams.
Speaking about a show by Take That at the Principality Stadium, Allan said: “There was one young girl who was very, very severely disabled in a wheelchair. Her head was lying to one side, her arms were motionless beside her and she didn’t look like she had much life in her at all.
“Then the band came on and incredibly it was like something miraculous had happened. She tried to get up out of her wheelchair, and that was when her parents helped her up. She was trying her best to dance and the music was making her come alive.”
Music evidently means a lot to this most gregarious of individuals, a self-confessed Iron Maiden fan, who has more than 1,000 records. He even met his wife at a gig by seminal Welsh rock band Budgie in Cardiff in the 1970s.
For the future he said he has no plans to slow down – as he loves what he does too much.
Allan Jones has been a steward at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, for 10 years
Paramore singer Hayley Williams