Belfast Telegraph

D-Day hero and voice of BBC's Twelfth coverage dies at age 95

By Chris Kilpatrick

He fought in World War II, was the deputy principal of a leading college, and became a household name in Northern Ireland through his role as a BBC presenter.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Colonel James Hughes also squeezed in a spell as an Irish League footballer as well as raising thousands for charity during a remarkable lifetime.

The prominent Ulsterman and British soldier involved in the World War II Juno landings and the liberation of Brussels died on Sunday at the age of 95.

During WWII he served in the Royal Artillery, becoming a gunnery instructor, and was deployed on the south coast of England.

In September 1944, he was part of the huge operation on Juno Beach that supported the Canadian landings. Hughes and his men later helped liberate Brussels.

After the war, he was appointed senior lecturer in education at Stranmillis College, Belfast, and went on to become deputy principal in 1970, a position he held until his retirement in 1982.

Col Hughes was also well-known thanks to his part-time broadcasting work for BBC Northern Ireland on both radio and television, dealing mainly, but not exclusively, with sport.

But he is perhaps best remembered for his authoritative TV commentaries from 1960 on the annual Twelfth parades.

Son-in-law Paul Clements said Col Hughes felt he had lived “a charmed life” and threw himself into his work professionally and with the many organisations he was involved with.

Mr Clements said he always found Col Hughes to be “friendly, personable and affable”.

He devoted much time to the Royal British Legion and its Poppy Appeal, holding various offices in the Legion at both local and national level. He was national chairman from 1972-75 for which he received the CBE.

In 1961 he had been awarded an OBE for military service.

Col Hughes contributed to the work of many other voluntary and charitable organisations. He became a Knight of Justice in the order of St John in recognition of his contribution, and was also closely associated with the work of various charities dealing with young people, particularly the Boys’ Brigade and the disabled.

Col Hughes was married for 72 years and was predeceased by his wife, Aimee, in June of this year. They had four daughters and had lived in the Castlereagh area.

Col Hughes was born in Campbeltown in Scotland, but his family moved to Northern Ireland when he was a toddler.

The funeral of Col Hughes will take place later this week.

Belfast Telegraph

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