His random act brought smiles to the faces of 1,000s of people who had never heard of him until his dinosaur story went viral. The 58-year-old passed away on Thursday 28 August at the Royal Gwent Hospital from a heart attack.
His family have paid tribute to him and said that making people smile was something he always did. I went to the family home and met Lesley, his wife, and Samantha and Tamar, two of his five daughters for a cup of tea to listen to the lovely memories of this Cwmbran character.
Tamar said: “He was a good guy. He just loved chatting to people and making them happy. It came on the news that the dinosaurs were being auctioned off for the JDRF, the type one diabetes charity.”
Lesley said: “Thomas my grandson, who’s autistic, was looking at the dinosaurs and saying ‘can we have one?’” The family had one of the famous Newport Dragons on the front porch of their house. “Jerry said to me ‘can we replace the dragon with a dinosaur?’ I thought it was going to be the same size as the dragon. He never told me it was 15ft. And then this 15ft dinosaur pulled up when I was in the house.”
Tamar said: If it was for a good cause he would do it. He was always giving to charity. He did those things because he enjoyed it.” During the summer he took the dinosaur to the Cwmbran Big Event and Pontypool Carnival. Tamar said: He enjoyed lugging a 15ft dinosaur around Cwmbran and Pontypool to just chat to people about it. He was happy to be there, happy to talk to people.
He loved children, friends and family
Samantha said: “I used to be a youth worker and the reason was because of my parents They gave us all a safe place in the home. The door was never shut to anyone. You would feed the 50,000 on a shoestring. You made sure everyone was fed and everyone was welcome. Dad loved family, he loved noise, he loved to hear kids laughing. He would build assault courses in the garden and on the field.
Tamar said: “There would be a party and he would say ‘Can you invite everyone? Don’t single anyone out’. He liked to see everyone.
“We threw a party down the field for Dylan, his grandson, and he built a giant electric buzzer. He got scaffolding boards, hay bales and built an assault course. The kids had to win ‘Dylan Dollars’ that they could then use for a burger and sweets. He always made everything fun.”
Lesley said: “They had to learn something, to earn the Dylan dollars. It was teaching them a valuable lesson. People thought it was a fete, and he just said ‘come on and join in’.
“He would cut tennis courts in the grass on the big field behind us, rounders courts, whatever the kids were into. He would mow the field for all the kids in Pontrhydyrun to play on. We used to call him Forest Gump.
“Jerry never judged anyone. He accepted everyone, no matter what walk of life. He was kind. If any kid showed an interest in fixing bikes he was there to teach them. There are many kids who would have gone the wrong way if it wasn’t for him.
“When our children were young they would bring every waif and stray home to us. Whether this was a dog, a cat or a person they would bring them back. Next thing we would have 14 kids sleeping over. So many people would stop us in the street and thank us. We were a safety net. It’s always busy here.
“He would do anything for anyone. If you broke down he would be there. He taught everyone to ride a bike but he never taught them to stop. They would fall off and he would say ‘now you know what it feels like’ so get on with it.”
He loved motorbikes
Samantha said: “His biggest passion was his bikes, enduro racing, which is off-road motorbiking. He would sit out with his bikes and teach random kids how to fix bikes or how a bike works.”
Before he got married and had children he represented Wales in Poland and was British champion. He came 45th in the 2007 Western Beach race and was going to take part in this year’s event. The race attracts around 1,00 riders on the beach in Weston.
Sam said: “He always said ‘don’t ever miss an opportunity’. I used to walk the mountains with him, all up around Upper Cwmbran. I loved that I was able to go mountain biking with my dad, especially in Morzine, France. We went in July this year.
“He could cook, sew, play the organ. He was a man of every trade. He would take the kids to school every morning and cut grass after work. He would spend the rest of the evening tinkering in his shed.”
Tamar said: “My dad told me so many times he did something and thought his life was over and would think ‘this is the end for me.’ He took a cover off a drain to do a check and got stuck upside down. He was in there for a good 40 minutes. His words were ‘I thought was going to die.’ Every Sunday he would come home with injuries from riding. He was like Danger Mouse.
“His motto was ‘nothing is that bad, we can sort it, why are we worrying?”
On one occasion he went to the hospital thinking he had broken his finger inside his biker gloves. The nurse thought it wasn’t that bad as he was ‘up and smiling’. He pulled his glove off to discover that the clutch lever had shattered, pierced his finger at the tip and gone through the bone lengthways and shattered the bone. The extra shock for the nurse (and Jerry) was finding most of his finger left in the tip of his glove!
He loved dogs and used to offer temporary foster homes for abused dogs
Lesley said: One year we had a dog that was like a polar bear. Prince Louis had a line around his neck where he had been tied up. His scars were many and deep. He was only two and half years old and we believe he had been abused for most of his young life.
“You should have seen him when he went. You know that polar bear on The Golden Compass? He looked like him. Jerry could walk into a pack of dogs and they could be really aggressive and they would love him.”
11 years in the TA as PT instructor and mechanic
Jeremy was a personal trainer/ mechanic in the Territorial Army for 11 years and also worked as a lorry driver and helped to build famous landmarks including Terminal 5 at Heathrow and the Millennium Stadium. For the last ten years, he worked for his brother Ray’s business, Niche IFA, as the maintenance officer.
Details about Jeremy’s funeral
His funeral is on Wednesday 25 September:
- 2pm at St David’s Catholic Church, Avondale Road.
- 3pm Gwent Crematorium.
- The ‘sky party’ (wake) is at Pontnewydd Working Men’s Club.
Samantha said: “We are expecting a lot of bikers so please give them space. The day is about remembering all the amazing memories of my dad.”