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Don Jolliffe, a war veteran with a love of comedy dies aged 90

Donald Jolliffe (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A veteran with a love of stage comedy who was decorated for injuries in the line of duty has died at 90.

Originally from Wales, Don Jolliffe moved to Bermuda in 1961.

His skills as an engineer and plumber, which found him a host of jobs in the Royal Engineers, took Mr Jolliffe to the Bermudiana Hotel as chief engineer in charge of its water plant.

Mr Jolliffe’s love of theatre spanned decades of his subsequent life in Bermuda, including service as president and premises manager of the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society.

His service began when he joined the Army Cadets in the closing years of the Second World War in his home town of Pontypool.

He later helped in the rebuilding of war-torn London.

Mr Jolliffe preferred to speak little of his service in the British Army as part of a special demolition unit in the United Nations forces in the Korean War of the 1950s.

The covert squad’s work included “blowing up bridges and roads”, he told The Royal Gazette in 2019.

Mr Jolliffe’s skills drilling for water were put to use the 1956 Suez Crisis, where he was badly injured after his bulldozer ran over a mine.

He was not decorated until in 2004, at a ceremony at Government House, after the British Government recognised the invasion as a war.

It meant he could take his place in the Remembrance Day parade at last.

Mr Jolliffe said at the time: “I’ve watched that parade for 43 years and now I have the medal I’ll be able to march with the veterans.

“It’ll be quite emotional. I’m very excited about it.”

His roles in Bermuda included service as commodore of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, and more than 20 years as a church warden at St. John’s Anglican Church.

Mr Jolliffe also worked as premises manager for the Bank of N.T. Butterfield.

In 2012, the BMDS gave him the Stella Halsall award for contributions to the performing arts in Bermuda, which included Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Bermuda Festival, and the Bermuda Philharmonic Society.

Mr Jolliffe kept performing into his 80s, often as Santa Claus for the BMDS Christmas pantomime.

He had a daughter, Deryn, with Violet, his wife of many years.

After her death, he met his second wife, Rachel, in 2008, and told the Gazette: “I would not be here if it were not for her and her strength behind me.”

⋅ Donald Jolliffe, a veteran of the Korean War and the Suez Crisis, was born on July 8, 1930. He died in April 2021. Mr Jolliffe was 90.

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Published April 22, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 22, 2021 at 5:02 pm)

Don Jolliffe, a war veteran with a love of comedy dies aged 90

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