It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our long-serving and loyal employee Jens Jacob passed away recently. He will be greatly missed by his friends here at Earley Engineering. His funeral will take place this afternoon Wednesday 21 November at 4pm at Gwent Crematorium, Treherbert Road, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, Torfaen, United Kingdom, NP44 2BZ. Our office and workshops will be closed this afternoon, reopening tomorrow morning.
JENS UWE JACOB; ‘JENSY’ or ‘JAY’ to his colleagues.
Jens has worked with my father and I for many years, joining Bryn Engineering in the late 1980’s. He walked into the office one day looking for work. The first person he spoke to was my mother, who recalled; “he seemed a nice sort of a guy, he spoke good English and told us he had come from East Berlin and proudly proclaimed “I want to be a capitalist!”. He made an impression and how could anyone turn him away. We gave him a job and he’s worked for our businesses ever since.
He was initially hired as a car cleaner and for general duties, the only vacancy we had at the time, and later developed into many roles essential to our operation. He had a pleasant nature and carried out his work diligently. He had done military service driving Soviet army trucks and could speak Russian. There was something very likeable and willing about Jay. From occasional chats it appeared he had an interesting story and one day he explained how, disappointed with the lack of opportunity to better himself in East Berlin and thoroughly fed up with the Soviet regime he’d experienced his whole life, he had escaped from East Berlin during the time of The Berlin Wall that divided the Soviet controlled east from the free West; an amazing story emerged.
He had planned his escape by obtaining a false passport and, leaving his mother behind, (she was to join him in Wales later) went to an East/West crossing point, a bridge at around 5.00am on a wet winter morning and joined a line of East German ‘trusty’ workers who were allowed to cross to the West for certain types of work. Jens presented his papers, but the heavy rain caused the ink to run on the false passport. Sensing something was amiss, he didn’t wait for the re appearance of the official; he legged it as fast as he could across the bridge. Shots from the guards rang out around him, but he made it to the other side.
He had already made secret plans to contact some friends to meet him and he gained asylum in West Berlin. He was determined to get to the U.K. and found his way eventually to Newport, in South Wales where a small group of East Germans had settled.
He told us that as a result of his escape, the authorities in East Berlin went to his mother’s home and seized all the property he had left behind. We expected a look of regret, but this was one of the rare times he smiled; he had replaced all his assets, a motorcycle/moped, bicycle, furniture etc, etc with trash items reclaimed from the tip! He obtained lodgings in Claremont, Newport and with his own brand of determination arranged formally to purchase this house from his landlady but in a very unique way – one room at a time!
There’s an amusing story from years ago that he would not mind being re-told; he had a lady friend he wanted to impress and being a quiet type, unable to express his amour, he hired the advertising space on the side of a Newport double-decker bus that passed her house every hour, and upon which was inscribed in massive red lettering with a red heart:- ‘Jens loves ****** and the ladies name’. Needless to say, the lady was horrified, but it wasn’t just for one day! He had paid for the month and she had to put up with the hourly reminder for the entire month!
In 1994 my father started a new business, Earley Engineering, dedicated to restoring Alvis cars and Jens transferred there to work alongside his colleagues Mervyn and Andrew. The business grew and Jens stayed with us. He was a trusted, loyal employee and was still working until just a few weeks ago.
There are many things we will miss about Jens. His very dry and clever sense of humour, his enthusiasm for his daily transport, the beloved Suzuki Jimny, his determined one man boycott of Michelin tyres and the entire Mercedes Benz corporate empire…..with very good reason as he would remind us on a regular basis!
Jens and I had many long and tiring trips to retrieve Alvis cars from all corners of the country and in all states of repair, some literally with trees growing through them. We formed an ace team and armed with a carefully thought out kit of tools, became expert at extracting cars from the most difficult situations……often to the amazement of by-standing owners. Amazingly, the last of those trips was only a couple of months ago. We got it out, loaded and Jens uttered his usual words “Ja, tis standard”, just another day’s work. I got to know Jens very well on these trips. We had long, interesting and amusing conversations and I have very good memories of him to treasure.
I was due to present Jens with his long service award later this year, alongside his colleagues and I was very sad not to be able to do this. However, I was honoured to present his well-earned award to his God-Daughter Jenny earlier today.
Jens was a lovely man who managed his life very carefully, in his own special way and achieved what he set out to do. He will be greatly missed.
Nick and Alex Simpson. November 2018.