Friday, 25 June 2010

Cast in the Jersey political mould….




Emille Collins first joined a political party – the Jersey Democratic Union – in 1944, when it was an offence punishable by death to do so.

He and a few other brave individuals used to meet in a house in Stopford Road (at the St. Saviour’s Road end) which still stands. Then they had to dodge the German patrols and the curfew.

There is no blue plaque on the wall to mark Emille’s extraordinary conduct and, even more disgracefully, the fact that he is still politically active and a regular on BBC Jersey ‘phone-ins and in the pages of the JEP is not marked publicly in any way.

Emille Collins was born at St. Helier in September 1912. He has lived in the Island ever since – except for just one single day when he visited Guernsey. He still lives in St. Helier and unlike most residents of the Island – he always votes.

In the picture above, Emille and Constable Simon Crowcroft of St. Helier are seen with a bronze- bust portrait of “our hero.”

Of course, Emille does not consider himself to be any sort of hero or even unusual – never mind exceptional – but we at Team Voice believe that he is a most remarkable man and that this should be recognised.

We have chosen to commission this “one off” portrait because we want him recognised now and by future generations as one of the unsung people who have campaigned so that we all might enjoy the privileges of a democratic society. How sad then, that there should, at this time, be so many divisions in the “progressive” arm of Jersey politics.

The battle for reform continues. Jersey is not Utopia but we think that it is appropriate to acknowledge Emille’s contribution over so many years and we want to demonstrate that political activity is a most necessary part of Island life.
It is to be applauded not denigrated.

Emille’s portrait is now on display at Falle’s Fine Art gallery just opposite the States Building in Hill Street. We hope that a sponsor or group of people will buy it and make it available for public exhibition, in an appropriate place, for many years to come.

Team Voice.

23 comments:

Jon H (the real one) said...

I like it!

Emile is a legend. I hardly ever listen to the phone-in (working) but I notice Emile coming onto Talk Back a lot and forgetting politics for a second, just to get to the grand age of 97 and still be as active and on the ball as he is, is just fantastic!

voiceforchildren said...

Jon.

One of the things I admire the most about Emille is that he truly does have the courage of his convictions. He joined a political party over here which was a crime punishable by death. He was, and is, willing to put his life on the line for his political belief's. It is no wonder he is frustrated that people can't be arsed to vote.

Anonymous said...

Emile is a legend. Just find it a bit funny that you make no mention of Emile being not just a stalwart of the JDA but someone who was named at last years AGM as an Honorary Patron. What happened? Did your master Mr. Syvret tell you that this could not, or must not be mentioned on the pain of death? At least this puts your claim to balanced reporting into perspective I suppose.

Emile has been very active in voicing his opinions and trying to encourage others to become politically engaged. I can remember seeing him as recently as Spring last year giving out leaflets for the JDA. Truly a legend and an inspiration to all whatever our politics. If only some of the younger apathetic whingers who moan but don't vote would follow his example!

GeeGee said...

A truly inspirational man, and what a wonderful gesture.

I encountered Emile last year at a protest in the Royal Square. He had requested a lift to the protest and was a real feisty man, and as you so rightly say VFC, has the courage of his convictions.

May you have many more long and happy years Emile.

TonyTheProf said...

This is a really good and uplifting story. Just one thing - wasn't it the JDM, Jersey Democratic Movement - that he belonged to? That would be the same one as Norman Le Brocq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Le_Brocq) and Stella Perkins.

Ben said...

Well done and congratulations to the JDA's Emile Collins. Wish there were more like him around.

voiceforchildren said...

Tony.

Yes I believe you are correct it was the JDM.

voiceforchildren said...

According to Emille - the group was the Jersey Democratic Union. It became "movement" agter the war and managed to get Deputy venebles elected.

His memory may well be flawed but he is usuall correct.

It just demonstrates once again how we are so saturated with the history of just 5 years of occupation whilst the history of political struggle in Jersey remains virtually un-recorded and un-written.

Team Voice.

Anonymous said...

When is Geoff's head on a pole being unveiled?

Anonymous said...

Emille you are a star and an inspiration ,thanks to you i am now more awake and politically interested , a huge thank you !!

voiceforchildren said...

I must also say a big thank you to Ryan Morrison who has highlighted Emile's remarkable story on the BBC Website.

Emile will be totally oblivious to all this online attention he is getting, but something I hope to put right in the coming days. I intend on inviting him down to "Châteaux Voice" and show him the BBC site and this one. Being the humble man that he is he will probably say something like "I don't know what all the fuss is about".

Thanks again to Ryan Morrison, not only for covering "the emile story" but for proving there is no need for the "accredited" media and "unaccredited media" to be so many miles apart.

Anonymous said...

Anti-establishment and politically active. Good combination.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine if Emile had been born in the age of the internet.
What a star,I own a small business and would gladly sponsor Emiles bronze

rico sorda said...

What a guy

Emile is a legend, he was with us on a cold winters day in the royal square giving it loads, 97yrs young amazing

Always on the phone-in Always a legend

rs

stopffordhall said...

Emile should be made a Knight!!

There are a lot of people in Jersey who get GONGS who do not deserve them, especially those who have held 'political office' and Crown appointments.

A KCBE for Emile as well as the current Lt. Govenor, Lt.Gen. Ridgeway, both long overdue.

Harry Stopford-Hall

Ian Evans said...

Was this man the same chap that was at the protest against the swearing in of "Barking Bill Bailhache" on that cold and rainy day for Jersey?

Anonymous said...

Emille (this is the correct spelling of his name I believe) has been cast in bronze because of his unique political career in Jersey.
He is just one of the many - largely anonymous people - who have chipped away at the establishment ediface over the centuries.
There are many people of his age around in the world these days and they will no doubt have some very interesting tales to tell. But, Emille is something very different because he is still trying to challenge the system. For some reason, the political fire still burns in his brain and his belly.

We should not kid ourselves that BBC Jersey has suddenly become politically aware or active. Emille's story in this context is cosy enough for auntie to handle. He is just another safe tale to fill the airwaves with.
The Voice should not think that there is any genuine policy of reconcilliation with "blogging" or bloggers by the BBC.
The NUJ official journalists ONLY policy will still be supported by BBC management and the Jersey government. The crazy Media policy against "non accredited press" attending "press" conferences or videoing Scrutiny will continue.

If only BBC Jersey allowed people like Emille to contribute more fully in the political debate then we might be getting a proper public information service.

When Emille appears as a studio guest on Sunday Talkback we shall know that the BBC in Jersey has begun to understand its proper function!
Let the political public speak - we are sick of the same, tame estalishment smooth-talkers.

rico sorda said...

Ian

Yeah it was emille giving it loads on that cold day like i say what a legend.

Like the last poster says this is a safe story for Auntie but when it comes to the big ones it will be business as usual.

rs

voiceforchildren said...

If anybody does want to help fund or to sponsor Emille's bronze then they should contact Falle Fine Art gallery in Hill Street initially where it is on display.
It would be perfect if the portrait could finish up displayed in the Town Hall or the States Building.

At the moment, the project has been initiated and financed within Team Voice. If the cost of the bronze is not raised locally then it will probably be returned to the UK for sale there.

We have supplied a "plaster cast" of the bust for Emille's own use and he has this on display.
We also have a plaster copy for our own use.

We would hope that other Jersey political people and events might also be recorded in various forms. This is an initial attempt to stimulate interest. Artists and writers, filmmakers et al might like to think about other projects because we believe that there are so many aspects of Jersey life that are simply being ignored and lost.
This is a political campaign. There are already enough people painting the landscape ( we have no problem with that) but we want political activities to be recognised and discussed and appreciated too.

Team Voice.

Anonymous said...

As Emile is a long-standing member and since last year an Hon. Patron of the JDA maybe someone should contact them to see if they will contribute? I recall that Trevor and Shona used to regularly pick up Emile and drive him to political meetings and any functions at the Town Hall and the like as he obviously didn't have his own transport anymore, so might be worth a call. If memory serves Emile also used to have a very powerful motorbile back in his younger days!

Anonymous said...

You must have a long memory because Emille sold his 1930 Triumph motor bike after a couple of years when he married.

Anonymous said...

Emile certainly is a legend and just to still be interested in politics at his age is simply wonderful. Fair play to hearing that he was made a patron of the JDA as well. Clearly Emile is a man who has stuck to his political ideals through thick and thin. If only some younger people could follow his example. I also hope we don't get any of the handful of idiots spouting anti-JDA rubbish because of Stuart' silliness with Vibert slagging Emile for being a member either. Emile, you should get a medal and while they are about it they should give your fellow JDA patron Mrs Chris Wakeham one as well.

Anonymous said...

I remember Emile out side of the states buildings
on a wet miserable day protesting William Bailaches Inauguration
Jill Gracia was told to move on by a young femail police officer.

People are watching from the sidelines and gainig strenghth
Things are changing