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North Wales singer Aled Jones pays tribute to Snowman creator Raymond Briggs

BANGOR-born singer Aled Jones has said he owes The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs a “debt of gratitude” following the author and illustrator’s death at the age of 88.

His 1978 classic The Snowman has sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide, and he also created the children’s books Father Christmas, Fungus The Bogeyman and When The Wind Blows.

An animated version of The Snowman, made for Channel 4 in 1982, became a holiday staple and has been shown on TV every Christmas since.

Welsh singer Jones rose to fame as a teenager after covering Walking In The Air, the song written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated version.

Aled Jones and Russell Watson entertain the crowds that flock to St Asaph Tweedmill for the 25th anniversary celebrations. Photo: Phil Micheu

Speaking on his classic FM radio show on Wednesday, Aled paid tribute to Briggs saying: ‘What a legacy he leaves behind.

“His books have touched millions around the world, and what a debt of gratitude I owe to his greatest creation of all. Thank you Raymond.

He then played the classic song in memory of the late author.

Jones was born at St David’s Hospital in Bangor and grew up in the small Welsh-speaking community of Llandegfan in Anglesey. He attended Ysgol David Hughes and joined the Bangor Cathedral Choir at the age of nine.

Author Raymond Briggs in Hyde Park, London.  Image: PA

Author Raymond Briggs in Hyde Park, London. Image: PA

In a statement, Briggs’ family said: “We know Raymond’s books have been loved and touched by millions of people around the world who will be saddened to hear this news.

“Fan drawings – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned to his studio wall.

“He lived a rich and full life, and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life.

“He shared his love of nature with Liz on walks in the South Downs and on family holidays in Scotland and Wales.

“He also shared his sense of fun and madness with his family and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, costume parties and summer picnics in the garden. and enjoyed being played on.

“All of us close to him knew his irreverent humor – it could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He loved the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure’.

Born in Wimbledon, south-west London, in 1934, Briggs studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before briefly pursuing painting.

After becoming a professional illustrator, he worked and taught illustration at Brighton College of Art.

In 1966, he won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his work illustrating a nursery rhyme book, The Mother Goose Treasury.

Author Raymond Briggs in Hyde Park, London.  Image: PA

Author Raymond Briggs in Hyde Park, London. Image: PA

His best known works were published between 1973 and 1984 and also included Father Christmas Goes On Holiday and The Tin-Pot Foreign General And The Old Iron Woman.

He has won numerous awards during his career, including the Kurt Maschler Award, the Children’s Book of the Year and the Dutch Silver Pen Award.

In February 2017, Briggs received the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award and the trust responded to news of his death by tweeting, “He will live on in his stunning and iconic books.”

He was appointed CBE for services to literature the same year.

Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “Raymond’s books are illustrated masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, aimed at adults. and to children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.

“Raymond is probably best known for The Snowman. Perhaps he needed more freedom than the standard 32-page picture book format allowed and created a radical and beautiful innovation: a wordless picture book for children, a stills storyboard that became an instant classic in its own right, as well as the most I loved animations.

Ms Dow said Briggs was “unique” and “inspired generations of picture book, graphic novel and animation creators”.

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She added: “He leaves an extraordinary legacy and a big hole.”

Briggs’ literary agent, Hilary Delamere, said: ‘Raymond loved playing the grumpy professional, but he will be remembered for his stories of love and loss.

“From the many letters he received, I know how much his books and animations have touched people’s hearts.”

Prominent children’s authors, including former children’s laureates Michael Rosen and Cressida Cowell, have paid tribute to Briggs and her literary legacy.

Briggs is survived by her stepdaughter Clare and her husband Fynn, her stepson Tom and his wife Sarah, and three step-grandchildren.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson