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SUNDAY 14 APRIL 2024

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Jim’s coffin was draped with a copy of the Daily Express

Jim asked for his ashes to be put on the bar of the Farmers Arms in Muker, Yorkshire Dales and then thrown into the River Swale

REPORT OF THE FUNERAL FOR JAMES DAVIES HELD ON 16 FEBRUARY, 2023


The mourners filed quietly into the hall, sharing a deep sense of sadness and incomprehension that their relative, friend and colleague had died so soon after his wife. 


More than 60 people assembled to pay their respects and say farewell to James Tudor Davies, former Daily Express reporter, foreign correspondent and feature writer and resident of the village of Tregony in Cornwall, who died aged 88 in the Royal Cornwall Hospital on January 27, 2023, after a short illness.  


They had gathered in the Penmount Crematorium in Truro only nine months before, to pay similar tributes to Pat. 


Neither Pat nor Jim embraced any organised religion. Jim chose to have a celebration of his life led by funeral celebrant Helen Read, who had led a similar service for Pat last May. 


Recognition of Jim’s jazz piano-playing skills was featured throughout the service, with music including Oscar Peterson’s take on “Stormy Weather”, Stacey Kent with “Blackbird” and Quincy Jones’s “Soul Bossa Nova”.  


His coffin was draped with the scarf of his beloved Rotherham United football club and a copy of the Daily Express.  


Ms Read recited an Edward Lear poem, “Some Incidents In The Life of My Uncle Arty”, as Jim was fond of reading nonsense poems to daughter and son Alison and Steve, when they were young. 


Ms Read spoke about Jim’s early and family life, before a tribute to his career as a journalist from former Daily Express colleague Leon Symons, who was accompanied by another long-time colleague, Peter Hardy. 


A tribute also came from Jim’s daughter Alison, which was read by Ms Read. 


Jim’s one and only wish on his death was for his ashes to be taken to the Farmers Arms at Muker in the Dales, be placed on the bar and for his family to raise a toast to him. He then wants to be thrown into the River Swale where he can gently float out to the North Sea. A fitting end for a Yorkshireman. 


After the service, the mourners gathered to raise a glass to Jim at the King’s Arms, Tregony’s only pub and his local. 


Val Trotter, who looked after the Davies’ housework, said: “Jim was a very endearing chap. He was a real gentleman. He used to tell me terrific stories that he could recall from 60-odd years ago.  


“He was a very genuine person. He told it like it was. You always knew where you stood with him. 


“I first met him because his wife Pat needed someone to look after the housework after she became unwell. They made me feel welcome from the first time stepped inside their house. Whenever I went, the first thing was tea and then about an hour later, I’d start work.” 


Leon Symons’ eulogy


James Tudor Davies was one of THE great Fleet Street reporters. He plied his craft at a time when newspapers were still in their heyday – no mobile phones or laptops to contend with, just the fierce rivalry between newspapers and the pleasure of beating the opposition to an exclusive. Oh and the hope that, depending on where you were in the world, you could find a telephone or telex that worked. 


He was at the heart of some of the biggest stories at home and abroad: the Moors murders, the Jeremy Thorpe trial, the Iran-Iraq war, civil war in Lebanon, apartheid violence in South Africa, the Olympics in Soviet-era Moscow, going into the Amazon with Sting, meeting the Duke of Edinburgh in the Great Hall in Beijing NOT wearing a tie … to name but a very few.  


And that phrase “it’s a funny old world” was never more apt than when James was doing his national service in the mid-fifties. He joined the RAF, but poor eyesight meant flying was out, so he was transferred to military intelligence. He was posted to Cyprus during an armed campaign against British rule.  


At one point, he was tasked with interrogating the editor of a local newspaper, one David Eliades. Imagine the surprise some years later, when Eliades turned up to work on the Express foreign desk. Of course, they became the firmest of friends, to the extent that David was Jim’s best man at his wedding to the lovely Pat. 


Jim’s first job on a national was at the Daily Sketch in Manchester. But he wasn’t there long before the Sketch began to decline and the Express snapped him up.  


MORE TRIBUTES

GEOFFREY LEVY