Jim Newman (December 1929 – September 2019) was born in Sawtry, Huntingdonshire, the eldest of five children. Jim chose to enter the Royal Navy at the age of 17 and while serving, he, with other friends, went to a dance at Portsmouth Teachers’ Training College where he met his future wife, Margaret. On leaving the navy, Jim went to live in Bedfordshire where he had a job with the Police Force. Later, he became a civil servant working with the Post Office and Cable and Wireless in London.
It wasn’t very long before Jim and Margaret returned to Hampshire to live in Waterlooville and Jim rejoined the Royal Navy, this time in a civilian capacity. Both Jim and Margaret had a strong love of music and singing. Jim sang with four local choirs, chief among these being the Solent Male Voice Choir and the Denmead Choir.
With a delightful sense of humour and a love of meeting people, Jim would spend many PMF days selling tickets at the door for any Festival section, happily chatting to the many supporters who came. As vice chairman, he was a firm and devoted pillar of the Festival for very many years while Margaret took on the role of Festival secretary.
With the strong belief that the Festival was an essential platform for the development of performers of music, dance, speech and drama for all ages, Jim and Margaret’s hard work and dedication – along with that of the whole Committee – helped to raise the profile of the PMF from 1990 onwards from an organisation almost on its last legs to one of the top three in the UK (figures from the BFF in 1998). The Festival owes a great deal to the quiet constancy of a vice chairman like Jim Newman and we thank him for all his support and dedication over the years.
May he rest in peace.