top of page

Gareth Jones - Festival Director


Gareth has lived and worked in Sussex for 40 years. Previously, after graduating with a degree in History and Archaeology from the University of Birmingham, he had pursued a brief career as an Archaeologist. The first winter put paid to that and he trained to be a teacher.


As luck would have it Hailsham Community College advertised a job teaching History and Archaeology and, having found out where Hailsham was, Gareth applied and was appointed.


In those days’ teachers trained to teach two subjects and, since archaeology wasn’t on the list, this gave Gareth the opportunity to also be a drama teacher.


Gareth settled into the work and the community and just stayed in Hailsham. 


In the years that followed he became the Head of Drama, a Head of Year and then a Head of House. A school governor and the Secretary of the Town Farm Community Association. After that he ran the colleges inclusion unit and then went on to become an accredited Advanced Skills Teacher specialising in working with Gifted children.


In the 1990’s Gareth began to take his second career as a writer more seriously. He began with two plays which were published by Schoolplay and followed up with a full musical adaption of John Masefield’s “The Box of Delights” with composer Jon Francis, which has since been recognised as the first, and so far only fully realised musical stage version. This was performed at the college, as part of the Brighton Festival and then at the Devonshire Park Theatre. A revival is always on the cards!


A drama textbook came next, published by ZigZag, which is widely in use in the UK. More about writing later.


Gareth also travelled extensively, often taking children with him on school trips. This involved visiting Germany, Romania, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Borneo, Florida, New York, Alaska, and Peru. The Peru trip involved walking over the Andes and then sailing down the Amazon to Iquitos.. Spain and Italy were returned to many times, as well as regular visits to many theme parks, including Disneyland Paris twenty-five times. He once worked out that he had spent more than two additional years in the holidays on school trips, a fact which didn’t impress the pension people.


The detail of these trips is to be found in “Travelling with Children”, initially published by Bretwalda and now available on Amazon.


As part of his work as an AST Gareth staged major events including county wide talent shows, chess tournaments, Quiz competitions and Educational Conferences for children.


This role also enabled him to move into film production and in 2007 he wrote, produced and directed the feature film “Get Santa” (not the Warwick Davis version, which came later). This involved many talented staff and nearly 200 children as cast and crew. “Get Santa” premiered at the Devonshire Park and was very well received.

As part of his drama work at Hailsham Gareth focused on preparing students for audition with the National Youth Theatre and Hailsham became the largest state school contributor to that organisation for over a decade and may still hold that record.


He was also constantly on the lookout for other opportunities for the students and that led to the town’s involvement in the feature film “Distant Bridges”. A world war 1 epic that was partly filmed in Hellingly and involved literally hundreds of locals as extras and small part players. Gareth has one scene as “Mr Roberts”. His scene was filmed in Gateshead in the same garage that later appeared in the Downton sequel.


He also ran the college film club which resulted in dozens of shorts, many of which can be viewed on Youtube (his channel name is ghjmep, should you be interested.)


In 2014 Gareth went part time at HCC and was picked up by the Aurora Academies Trust to teach drama at their new school in Crawley. They were affiliated with an American Education Provider called Mosaica who used a humanities curriculum called “Paragon” in their schools across the world. Gareth’s background made him ideally placed to undertake a major revision of that, so he was appointed as the Global Curriculum Advisor for that organisation, and later Pansophic Education, which bought the company. 


In full retirement Gareth finished all the books that he had half written, and some more besides, and he now has over fifty in print ranging from textbooks to plays to short stories to novels, with some that defy categorisation… One of his favourite projects was to write six quizzes for free distribution to Hospice Fundraisers across the UK. Distributing that meant that he had to create a database of all their contact emails. Having completed the project he sent all the hospices all of the emails so that they could easily share resources for ever. He hopes that they are.


Gareth spent three years as a volunteer working for the Hailsham Festival then went on to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Hailsham Pavilion. He is also on the Board of “Shining Knight Productions Ltd.” A small independent film company who are in preproduction with their first short film.


It was in the role of Chair at the Pavilion that he, with others, broached the idea of a Film Festival which has grown so rapidly into SIFF.


Gareth is happily married and very much enjoys family life. He is still travelling.

bottom of page