Our former Head Gardener and co-founder, Graham Jones, sadly died on the 8th December after an illness. From 2011 until 2016, Graham led our team with integrity, compassion, encouragement and a great sense of fun!
In 2010, Graham left his career in law, frustrated and dissatisfied with seeing young people stuck in a system that was failing them and perpetuating a cycle of re-offending. His desire to see social change led to him partnering with Salla Heron who was running Solas After School Project with a group of 10 girls in Basin Lane flats. The southwest inner city was an area Graham knew well, having volunteered with a local kids’ club and set up Liberties Saints Rugby Club with some friends.
Within a year, a variety of new programmes took off, from teenage mentoring and tag-rugby in primary schools to our Compass prison programme. Solas Project was born. Graham’s visionary and energetic leadership led to huge growth within a very short space of time. The team expanded and the number of young lives impacted grew year-on-year.
For five years, Graham relentlessly pursued a better community for the young people we support. He created an organisation that strives to support every young person to discover and pursue their unique potential. Graham’s heart was for those on the edge of society, the hardest to reach, often overlooked by society. We will continue to pursue those who are most in need, to show love and give hope to those who would not receive it otherwise.
In 2016, Graham made yet another life-changing move and started training to become a minister in the Church of Ireland. While we were sad to see him go, we knew that his investment in Solas Project had nurtured an organisation that would continue to thrive.
Graham’s legacy will live on through Solas Project and all the young people who have been changed for the better through our programmes. We will continue to fight the good fight, just as Graham taught us, and will pursue a more equal society where every young person can know what it is to live a flourishing life.
Just a week before he died, Graham spoke to to RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan and shared his inspirational personal story with cancer. Graham also talked about his journey from law to community development and what inspired him to co-found Solas Project: