20th Feb 2023 – Retirement is greatly overrated – Don’t do it! – Sir Clive Jones CBE

The remit for anybody writing these blogs is not to report word-for-word what the speaker said, but to try and give a concise overview (perhaps 500 words at max) of what the talk was about, and how the presentation was received by our members.

In the case of Sir Clive Jones, it is difficult to cram even his basic CV into just 500 words. It also seems slightly incestuous for me to be writing this, as I have been lucky enough to count Clive as a friend for more than 50 years, since he was a graduate trainee reporter.

Although Clive eventually became one of the most powerful figures in broadcasting, he is a man of many parts and a champion of humanitarian causes. His attendance at our meeting came about through the acuity of our speaker finder Richard Worth, who happened to mention after a previous talk that the speaker had asked for his honorarium to be donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee. “Ah,” I replied in true name-dropping fashion, “a friend of mine was the Chairman of the DEC for nine years.”

That alone might have been sufficient grounds for asking Clive to come and talk to us, but looking at all the facets of his busy life – during his mainstream career and after his retirement from the ‘day job’ – we decided to embrace everything, thus the title of his talk. At the age of 74, Clive is still the Chairman of the UK Board of Trustees of Sightsavers, the international charity that works to treat and prevent avoidable blindness in developing countries. He is also Chairman of the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading independent race equality ‘think tank.’ This miner’s son from the Welsh valleys is also Chairman of the National Theatre Wales, and for 12 years was on the board of the Young Vic Theatre Company.

He was Chairman of the Board of London Metropolitan University from 2010 to 2016, and is a trustee of the Thomson Foundation, a charitable organisation founded in 1962 by the Canadian media tycoon Lord (Roy) Thomson with the aim of training young journalists in developing countries. As if that were not enough, he is also Chairman of the ITV Pension Fund.

The former Sheffield-based journalist moved into broadcasting when he became News Editor of the Yorkshire TV Calendar programme, and from there his career progressed via executive positions with TV-am, TV South, London News Network, Central TV and Carlton TV until, with the merger of Granada TV – the final consolidation of the independent franchises – he took the top job in the industry as CEO of the newly formed ITV News Group Ltd in 2004.

Clive’s time at the helm of the Disasters Emergency Committee made his talk to us all the more topical, in view of the current Turkey/Syria earthquake appeal, and a bucket collection raised no less than £520 in addition to the usual honorarium to our speakers, which Clive waived in favour of donating it to the DEC.

His reminiscences – some humorous, some serious – about his career and life kept the audience spellbound and easily filled the hour, just as this has easily filled my 500-word allowance!