Blue Plaque For Jenny Jones
A Blue Plaque in memory of Welsh sports administrator and keep fit leader Jenny Jones has been unveiled at Morlais Hall, Ferndale.
Jenny Jones was secretary of the South Wales Keep Fit Association in 1956, secretary and development officer of the Sports Council for Wales in 1975, representing Keep Fit Wales and was also responsible for ‘Keeping Rhondda Fit’ for so many years.
Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet Member For Environment and Leisure, said: “Jenny Jones had a vision to keep the residents of Rhondda fit and healthy during the war years. With great determination, she developed keep fit classes all over the valley and went on to become a formidable force across Wales.
“Her overwhelming desire to promote health and wellbeing saw her getting recognised by the Sports Council for Wales and her work extended all over the country.
“I am delighted that Jenny Jones is being remembered in this way. The Blue Plaque will be a constant reminder of the local woman who kept people fit and raised morale so much in her communities.”
Born in 1916, Mrs Jones was also invited as a special guest to attend the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle on July 1,1969 and was awarded the Medal of Honour for services to Welsh sport in 1980.
Keep fit classes were established in the Rhondda Valley in 1929 and by the mid-1930s, the classes were thriving and enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Jenny Jones began her involvement in 1935 when she joined the Girls Friendly Society, which was based in Ferndale.
Second World War
The classes were halted at the outbreak of the Second World War, but Jenny Jones was determined to keep her community fit, organising regular mountain hikes, and doing her best to maintain morale through the war years, with the support of Rhondda Medical Officer for Health, Dr Morley Davies.
She also provided entertainment for the elderly in her local area over the years as well as staging amateur pantomimes, with all proceeds raised going to charity.
Following the War Years, Jenny Jones trained to become a Physical Recreation Leader and in 1956 the Keep Fit Association of England and Wales was formed, with Jenny serving on the Executive Committee as Honorary Secretary for South Wales.
New Keep Fit classes and training courses were soon established and with Lady Rowena Treharne appointed as President, the now-named Keep Fit Association of Wales became a governing body and the leading authority of fitness training in the Principality.
Sports Council for Wales
Jenny Jones served on the Sports Council for Wales and was appointed as Development Officer for Keep Fit Wales in 1975. She was also presented with a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal at Buckingham Palace in 1977 and was among the first recipients of the Medal of Honour in 1980 in recognition of outstanding service to sport.
She continued to arrange training courses for new Keep Fit Leaders, as well as continuing to run her own ever-popular classes in Wattstown and Ferndale. Jenny Jones also went on to arrange a sports programme of activities for Over-50s, with classes held at Rhondda Sports Centre. The dedicated group of enthusiasts became known as The Evergreens.
Jenny Jones was actively involved in promoting inclusivity in sport for people with disabilities and having retired as the Development Officer for the Sports Council for Wales in 1985, a Rhondda Keep Fit Association Golden Jubilee celebration event took place, with many tributes paid to its leader.
At the time, Jenny Jones said: “My work in the fitness field has always given me great pleasure, and hopefully my motivation will have reached far and wide. This little acorn that grew into such an all-embracing organisation makes me aware of the support and strength we get from the Rhondda when we want to get things done.”
Jenny Jones, who lived in Ferndale, sadly died in 2004, aged 88. A Blue Plaque in her memory is located at Morlais Hall, Ferndale.