Final journey for popular former JCB driver Billy
A FORMER JCB driver has made his final journey in the vehicle that made him so happy throughout his working life.
Popular Afan Valley man William Margam Jones — known as Billy Cynon in the area — was laid to rest in a ceremony at Coychurch Crematorium yesterday.
But his entry into the site wasn't in your usual hearse or carriage — as his coffin was transported in the bucket of a JCB.
Daughter Trudi-Ann described the 83-year-old as a fantastic father, grandfather and husband.
"He loved all his friends, family and his two dogs — Coco and Tinkerbell.
"He had dogs and cats his whole life."
She said her dad — Neath Port Talbot Council's first JCB driver — had worked for the county for 40 years.
"He thoroughly enjoyed his job," she added.
"He made many friends throughout the Afan Valley.
"Even when he retired, when the roads were bad with snow, he would be on to the council telling them it was never as bad as it was when he was working."
And Billy was also a staunch supporter of the community, fighting for two decades for a footpath to help residents safely walk to Afan Forest Park.
Two years ago, he and fellow Cynonville residents celebrated when they were finally awarded the path along the A4107.
He was also an active member of the South Wales Miners' Museum, which closed yesterday as a mark of respect to Billy.
"Everybody knew him," added Trudi-Ann.
"We've had 84 sympathy cards so far and I don't know how many messages on Facebook, there is not one bad word to say about him.
"One card says: 'Bill will be a loss to the valley, he was one of the last characters who made our lives more enlightening.'
"They're all like that, I am overwhelmed by them all.
"When he was driving his JCB, he would stop to give people lifts, that's how he was."
She thanked neighbours, friends and family for their great support in the days since he died, on August 21.
And she revealed that it was his choice for the coffin to be carried in the vehicle he'd loved so much.
"He was always talking about his funeral," said Trudi-Ann.
"First we were going to have a horse and carriage, but then we found out you could do this.
"So when we went to see Gareth (Jenkins, Funeral Director), he asked what we wanted to do, and I said, he wanted the JCB."
Around 100 people attended the funeral, some going by coach from Blaengwynfi Square, to pay their tributes to one of the true characters of the valley.