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POPPY'S POLITICIANS: Fuelled by faith, family and music

POPPY'S POLITICIANS: Fuelled by faith, family and music

Tuesday 17 May 2022

POPPY'S POLITICIANS: Fuelled by faith, family and music

Tuesday 17 May 2022


It would be difficult for many people to imagine feeling settled with a strong sense of self, while knowing close to nothing about where they came from, but Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq has proven that it is possible.

Adopted at just 11 days old, Jon described his childhood as “idyllic” and has not felt compelled to look for answers to questions surrounding his biological family. I sat down with Jon to learn about the person behind the politics and discovered a man fuelled by family, faith and music.

“My childhood was absolutely fantastic, I was adopted into a Guernsey-French speaking, musical family with the most loving mum and dad I could have asked for,” said Jon. 

“My father was an organist who loved classical music, the music of the church, choirs and jazz in particular and I grew up in a house that was always filled with music. 

“My father was also a farmer and when he would get up, he would very often play the piano as I was getting up for breakfast before he went to milk the cows so I have those wonderful memories.” 

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Pictured: Jon would sing along with his father playing piano, a tradition he continued with his own children.

Jon said that, although his family did not have a lot of money, he never felt that mattered.

“I married a London girl who had a very different upbringing and had more resources than my family, but she never saw her father as he would commute to London for work,” he said. 

“I was very fortunate that I had a lot of time with family. My father’s mother was still alive when I was growing up and she lived with us. She couldn’t speak English, only Guernsey-French, but she was full of stories.

“One I remember fondly was of her uncle, who fought in the Battle of Waterloo. She was the youngest in her family, born in the 1870s, and it was always remarkable to me that I was living with someone who knew someone who fought in that battle." 

Jon was an only child of his adoptive parents. 

“My mother and father were married just before the second world war and were sadly not able to have children; they had several miscarriages and still births,” he said. 

“It was all very difficult, especially under the German occupation as people didn’t get the kind of medical care you would want, but they perhaps may not have had it any way at that time.

“They ended up fostering a lot of children then, in their 50s, they adopted me." 

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Pictured: Jon's father said that his mother was a "completely different" person after they adopted him, having previously suffered from depression. 

Jon said that he took to music at a young age; as his father had done. 

“It is weird in some respects that I was so taken by music like he was because I was adopted, so there was no guarantee that I would have that inclination, but I did and I even looked a bit like my father,” he said. 

“When I was four I started music lessons with the late, great, Janet Bran and I loved it. I loved classical music and still do today, and I love jazz so I inherited those two particular genres from my father. 

“If you were to spend a day with me there would be certain times of the day where both those genres would feature." 

Jon said that music was the “biggest, regular feature” of his life. 

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Pictured: Jon said that he was bullied at school for being adopted and because of the age of his adoptive parents.

“Music is a language which allows you to express things that words cannot; your heart can break to music, your mind can be flooded with memories, and you can help to centre your emotions," said Jon. 

“I originally thought I would be either a music teacher or a performer. I did a teaching degree in London and I enjoyed classroom teaching but I was heading towards performance,” he said. 

“One of the things that became clear to me was that, if you want to be a performer, particularly in the classical world, you had to be very dedicated to that and you had to put having a family aside and I wanted a family.”

Jon recalls some advice he was given by a friend about his career. 

“Someone told me that if I pursued a career in music I may not have the same enjoyment from it as if I was doing it for pleasure,” he said. 

“I had had a sense of calling to Christian ministry in my teens and someone gave me some advice that that role would encompass both music and teaching."

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Pictured: Jon with his family who are all musical, including his two son-in-laws.

Jon continued: “I was ordained in London in 1989 and the churches I was involved in came with the style of music that is very modern.” 

A pastor, Jon said that there is “strong link” between music and faith. 

“The book of Psalms is actually a book of songs and many of them are examples of expressions of frustration or cries for help,” he said. 

“If I have had a particularly stressful day, I know that sitting at the piano for half an hour or so will make me feel better and I can release all of those feelings. If I am stressed, I will play Bach, or if I’m having a good day it is more likely to be jazz."

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Pictured: Jon describes his childhood with his adoptive parents as "idyllic". 

Jon continued: “I have found that music is very often the only way that I am able to express myself to others, to God and to myself. I can always find a sense of peace and calm through music.”

After returning to Guernsey with his wife, Jon helped to start what is now the Rock Community Church. 

“It had started as a little group of young people who had left mainly Methodist churches on the island, and we established it as a church and linked with a network of churches that we were involved with back in London,” he said. 

“We didn’t have a building for the first few years, so we moved around between schools and rented places; we were a community, just without a building. 

“When we eventually bought the old Methodist property in New Road, someone commented that they were pleased we had a church and I said that we have always had a church, but now we have a building.”

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Pictured: Jon when he was at university studying music.

Jon was pastor of the church for 27 years. 

“In that time we also started a number of churches in France. I had done a postgraduate in Paris in philosophy, theology, and culture, which had thrown me into French culture,” he said.

“I really loved France and all things French and we had lots of friends there. In the 1990s we started a church in Brittany and then in Paris, which started taking off.”

Jon explained that by 2008 his life had become increasingly busy with the churches, family and music. 

“I was trying to be a good leader, a good dad, a good husband and a good son to my parents who were both living with us by that time,” he said. 

“My mum died after fours years with us and my dad after seven. Looking after them wasn’t easy, but both of them died in the best way possible and I was with them both when they passed."

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Pictured: Jon playing his father's Hammond organ, which his father had played into his 90s. 

Jon continued: “I was able to then take time with my three daughters who were in their mid to late teens and, in a bizarre way, needed me around more than I thought they would because I thought they would need their mother more so than me, but I am so glad that I was able to be there for them.” 

Jon said he feels “blessed” that his daughters are all still living on the island. 

“I never take for granted that our girls, and now our three grandchildren as well, all live in Guernsey; we are very fortunate,” he said. 

“It gives me the greatest joy to spend time with family. It has completely changed the dynamic of our family to now have three boys, but they are an absolute joy."

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Pictured: Jon often entertains with his jazz music. 

“I’ve had a latent desire to relive some boyish things that I wasn’t able to do with three daughters, so it’s been fantastic; I often comment how we are a fifth of a way to having a rugby team now," said Jon. 

Jon said that he had tried to keep close connections with his wider family. 

“My mother was one of nine so I have always been part of an extremely big family and family gatherings were always a hoot. I look back now and think how incredibly privileged I was to have that,” he said. 

“Our family has always had the ability to laugh at ourselves and that’s something we have instilled in our children. If you can laugh at yourself, especially when other people are pointing the finger, it can be a real help in life.”

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Pictured: Jon's father with his oldest daughter, Lucy.

Jon said that, for him, the meaning of life is to discover new things about himself, God, love, life and joy with his family. 

“My answer might be different if you were to ask me in a few years' time, and I might have expressed it differently in the past, but now the purpose of my life is to know God as a creator and a redeemer,” he said. 

“I believe that we are all broken in different ways as human beings and I realise my brokenness more and more as I go through life; the older I get the more I have to apologise."

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Pictured: Jon playing the keyboard in a jazz band with trumpet player Adrian Tostevin. 

Jon continued: “It’s a good thing because I feel more dependent on a God who loves me despite all of that, who knows me better than I know myself and my purpose is to become more like him by discovering more about him and I love doing that. 

“Faith is a path and I don’t often say that I’m a Christian because it's misunderstood; I describe myself as a follower of Jesus. 

"I have found very few people who are not intrigued or enamoured by the character of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament.”

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Pictured: A former pastor, Jon is a keen public speaker. 

Jon said that music within the church had a strong influence on the fact that he has never strayed from his faith.

“I question my faith all the time, it’s so important to do that. Faith is about a journey of questions, sometimes you find answers and sometimes you don’t,” he said. 

“I think it’s superficial to say that everything in life can be explained by what you can touch or see. A lot of people have values that are not based on anything empirical, whether they describe themselves as spiritual or not. 

“My involvement through music kept me connected even when I was tempted to give up on the church as many of my friends were at the time.”

As a pastor, Jon helped several people to trace their biological parents. 

“I’ve seen some people who were desperate for that, others who were intrigued; there’s definitely a scale,” he said. 

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Pictured: Jon with his family in France when his daughters were teenagers. L-R: Lucy, Grace, his wife Judith, and Emily. 

Jon continued: “I’ve never had a desire to do that, probably because I was just so happy. My parents told me I was adopted when I was very young and explained what that meant. 

“There is a part of the Bible which talks about God adopting us and for me faith has been like that. It says you become like the one that you love and from my experience I did become like my parents. 

“It really helped me that they explained the concept of adoption and that I would become like them and I had the same values. 

“I did have a little bit of bullying at school about my biological parents not wanting me and because my parents were older, but I was still so happy with the life I was given." 

Jon said that he has little information about his biological parents. 

“When I was about 15 my parents asked whether I wanted to know about my birth mother and I said no, but they told me that she was pregnant at 14 or 15 and that my father was very likely a much older man and that they probably married and left the island,” he said.

“I listened to all that and knew it was an interesting thing because I wondered whether it would change me in terms of identity, especially as I may have siblings somewhere, but it didn’t have that effect on me."

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Pictured: Jon's parents lived with him and his family in their later years.

Jon continued: “If I was curious about my biological family I would do what I’ve done with other people and search for them, but I know from that that it’s not always a happy ending and that can be awkward and difficult.

“Identity is so important today; if you get it only from what you do that’s a problem or only from your parents that’s also a problem so I don’t feel wrapped up in that, but I would be very happy if my parents wanted to contact me but I don’t have a crying need to look for them.”

Jon said he “would be open” to hearing from his biological family.  

“If she’s still alive, my mother would be in her early 70s now and I do wonder whether I have a responsibility to find her, but then I think that it would be quite easy for her to find me,” he said. 

“There weren’t many babies that would have been born on 4 March 1964 in Guernsey and you can easily find out, and clearly my biological mother hasn’t chosen to do that.

“I would be open to hearing from either of my biological parents, but I don’t feel that my identity hinges on that and that is all down to how my parents raised me.” 

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