Ste­ward cel­e­brates a decade of mak­ing dreams a re­al­ity for dis­abled mu­sic fans

South Wales Echo - - WHAT'S ON - DAVID OWENS Re­porter david.owens@waleson­line.co.uk

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.

RICHARD SWINGLER

Allan Jones has been a ste­ward at the Mo­tor­point Arena, Cardiff, for 10 years

Paramore singer Hay­ley Wil­liams

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.