Saturday, 18 September 2010

EMILLE COLLINS 21 September 2010

A brief biography of Emille Collins is published here. We have previously written about this extraordinary man and are pleased to do so again because he will be 98 on Tuesday when his lifelong democratic, political campaigning will be celebrated with a small reception at the Town Hall.

His bronze portrait (commissioned by Team Voice), will also be handed over for display at the Town Hall because we think that people such as Emille are so important in our history and should be acknowledged and remembered.

Please read the biography and realise that Emille’s own family history is typical of so many in the past. The hardships that we experience today need to be compared with those of the people who have lived in this Island before us. We need to be aware of their struggles and in particular, their bravery in fighting for social justice here just as we celebrate their participation in wars - often on foreign soils.

Emille is especially unusual because even at 98 he is still challenging the unfairness in Jersey society and he has not lost his faith in Trades Unions or the validity of political action.

He follows in the respectable tradition established by “ordinary” brave Islanders over eight centuries. Their history is usually not recorded and there are very few monuments to their memory and it is doubly appropriate that on 28 September 1769 Jersey experienced its own forgotten “revolution,” or Jersey’s REFORM DAY.

We have no doubt that Emille or his ancestors would have been there in 1769 just as he would support such a public demonstration today. BUT we do wonder where others like Emille, are in Jersey now?

Happy Birthday Emille – keep fighting and ‘phoning – your Island needs you!

Emille was born in a house behind the “Old England” public house, Cheapside, St Helier on 21 September 1912. His mother was originally a Rondel from St John but had married Emille’s father - also Emille - as a widow with three children.

Emille's mother

Emille Collins senior was a sometimes lamplighter with the Jersey Gas Company and gardener at St Saviour’s Church. He had fought in the Boar War with the Devonshire Regiment and was usually based at the St. Peter’s barracks. He also served in the First World War where an elder brother died. They had been sent to the Jersey Home for Boys at Grouville with another brother (until reaching the age of 14), after their father died.

Emille's father

Emille junior and his parents, moved to Hue Cottages in 1918. He attended the Old St Paul’s school, New Street until the age of 14.

On finishing at school he commenced working at 7a.m. on the first Monday following as a trainee carpenter for five shillings per week, with Reuben Le Feuvre in Ann Street.

Emille far left, front row.

Le Feuvre had such a regular clientele that he never had to give a price but was simply trusted to carry out his work.

There were no paid holidays and the working week was of 56 hours over five and a half days. A first class carpenter would earn £3/10s/0d (£3.50p) per week whereas an average pay was 35 shillings (£1.75p).

Emille remained with the same business until retirement in 1977 but he carried on working as a jobbing/seasonal carpenter for many more years. He was a member of a local branch of the T & G W Union for woodworkers.
He married in 1933 to Doris Le Maistre from St. Ouen and they had one daughter Pamela. Both died in recent years. Emille has one grandson.

Doris and Pamela

Emille remained in Jersey throughout the Occupation with his family. Emille had tried to leave shortly before the outbreak of hostilities but was told that he could only sail without his wife and daughter, so they all stayed.

During the war, when such activities were punishable by death, he was a founder member of the Jersey Democratic Union Party which met at a house in Stopford Road. He retains a lively interest in political issues to this day, attending meetings whenever possible and is a regular participant on BBC Radio Jersey Phone-Ins.



Anonymous said...

He has more guts than most of us today!!well done Emille

voiceforchildren said...

Emille is an extraordinary couragous man, and an inspiration to many of us. There are discussions going on at the moment to get Emille on the internet, an idea he is keen to explore.

Will keep readers up-dated of any progress, and who knows? He might even start his own Blog!

rico sorda said...


See you tuesday


David Rotherham said...

He is an inspiration. Sometimes, I get disheartened with so much futility and so little achievement in my own political activism; then I think of Emile fighting on, and don't throw the towel in, after all. If he can keep on, what excuse have any of the rest of us for not joining in?

voiceforchildren said...


See you Tuesday?

Anonymous said...

What time at the town hall, please?

Anonymous said...

Basic Journalism for unaccredited media - What, why, who, how, when? :)

Anonymous said...

The small reception for Emille at the Town Hall is not a public meeting. Space is limited to those invited.
What more do you need to know anonymous?

David Rotherham said...

Yes, my boss will let me go.

voiceforchildren said...

Thank you Ryan Morrison

Zoompad said...

Hope you all have a nice time tomorrow

Anonymous said...

If we'd been told it was invite-only, then it would have saved me asking in the first place, plonker!

mac said...

Happy Birthday Emille, A true local character

Anonymous said...

I put Radio Jersey on once to hear the phone in and Emille was on. Since then over a year maybe 2 ago, I listen to it more or less every day.

Unfortunately, if he is not first or second on, rarely I know, I might miss him but when I do listen to him I just think, what a Legend.

Then again, some days that Bridget woman is on first so I have to switch off and drink a pint of milk instead!!

Anonymous said...

Bridget was on for a quarter of the show today! YAWN!!!