IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Family pays tribute to ‘maverick’ Park Theatre founder Jeremy James Bond

Gifted playwright and theatre founder dies aged 80

12 May, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Jeremy James Bond (right) with son Jez

THE family of Jeremy James Bond have paid tribute to the “self-educated maverick” founder of the award winning Park Theatre, after his death aged 80.

Born in Norwich in 1939, Mr Bond’s life-long love of the theatre came across in plays and pantomimes he wrote for the school run by his mother – head teacher and successful educational author JM Bond.

But, encouraged by his mother to go into business, Mr Bond became a financial marketeer and found global success through his own consultancy company, Moorgate Marketing.

Pushed to the verge of bankruptcy and forced out by a hostile takeover in the late 1980s, Mr Bond staved off his debtors and paid back more than £250,000 over the next 15 years, an achievement described by his son, Park Theatre’s creative director Jez Bond, as “truly inspirational”.

Jeremy (standing) with his family in the 50s

“I remember him coming home when I was 12 or 13, with his briefcase in hand and the face of a man who had lost absolutely everything,” he told the Tribune.

“But after about 15 years he had paid back every penny of the money owed. In that time, he kept us all with an incredible lifestyle. His greatest achievement was in how hard he got knocked and how well he got back up. That was how he inspired me. Through his determination, competence and sheer will-power.”

Jez Bond also spoke of his gratitude to a father who always encouraged him to follow his passion, and who jump started his dream of running his own theatre.

“It was something he had always loved and had always wanted to do. Before his death he would regularly go to the theatre two or three times a week. From the West End, to regional theatres and pub theatres.

“My father was the one who put the money he inherited from his own mother into buying the Finsbury Park building that became the Park Theatre. We had been looking for years for a space, and this was perfect.

Jeremy at the Park Theatre

“He set up the charity and leased the theatre to us for a peppercorn rent. It was his gift to the theatre community and the community as a whole. This building will probably only ever be a theatre.

“It all started with the initial leg up from my dad, which was only possible with his mother’s inheritance.

“It’s part of the amazing legacy that was his and his mother’s life.”

The Park Theatre has since been supported by the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Gillian Anderson and Damian Lewis, many of whom have since graced its stage.

Jeremy with wife Vicky

As well as a passionate reader, traveller and history buff, Mr Bond also found time to write his own plays.

His production of The Cause, about the incompetence of the groups planning to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was staged at the Jermyn Street theatre in 2016.

“It was very well received,” said Mr Bond’s son, Jez. “He found great pleasure in seeing a play of his professionally performed on a London stage.”

Mr Bond died at the Whittington hospital on May 7 after being admitted 13 days earlier with a serious foot infection.

His son told the Tribune the hardest part for the family was not being able to visit because of coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Bond is survived by his wife Vicky and their three children, six grandchildren and one great-grand-child.

A memorial will be arranged once social distancing measures are relaxed.

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