JIS News

The Jamaican High Commission in London has expressed sadness at the passing of Eric Irons, OBE, on August 3.
“Mr. Irons was truly a stalwart of the Jamaican Community. A proud, hardworking man who never forgot the land of his birth, but who also battled to break down barriers and improve the quality of life in his adopted home,” Community Relations Officer, Delores Cooper said.
Mr. Irons first came to Britain during the Second World War, when he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, in which he served for the next seven years.For the next six decades, Mr. Irons carved out a life for himself in an atmosphere that was very different and far less hospitable to immigrants than today. Like many other Jamaicans, Mr. Irons struggled against prejudice and exclusion, but he persevered to become a highly respected figure in his community of Nottingham and earned himself a reputation as a champion for social justice.
The 1958 race riot in Nottingham led to a wider public prominence for Mr. Irons. The riot was the first such occurrence in Britain and caused concern across Britain and the West Indies and provoked public policy initiatives. Nottingham Council sought the advice of Mr. Irons and appointed him as a Liaison Officer in order to give the West Indian community a better public voice.
So successful was Mr. Irons in this role that in 1962 he became Britain’s first Black Magistrate and he served as a Justice of the Peace until he retired from the bench in 1991.
Mr. Irons took on further community and race work, with the Committee for the Welfare of Coloured People, the World Council of Churches Committee for Migrant Workers in Europe and the Catholic Commission for Racial Justice. He served with distinction in other posts, such as Organiser for Coloured People for Nottinghamshire Education Authority, and was Nottinghamshire County Council’s Advisor for Commonwealth Communities.
In recognition of his considerable public service, he was made an Officer of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire in 1977. The award of a Jamaica Government medal later that year was further acknowledgement that his work transcended its local focus. By the time he received a Citizen of Honour Award from Nottingham in 1996, Mr. Irons had been instrumental in developing supportive structures and in fostering a generosity of community spirit within which Black, Asian and White Britons could communicate and flourish.
His achievements were further recognised by the University of Nottingham, which awarded him the honorary degree of Master of Arts.
The funeral service for Mr. Irons will be held on Friday, August 17, at the Our Lady of the Perpetual Succour Roman Catholic Church in Nottingham.

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