Fids was the finest fiddler we have ever met. Having taken up the fiddle at the age of 6 or so, he was called Fiddler from around that time, when he and his chums (several also named Jimmy, same as him) would all ignore their mothers calling them in from play. One day Fids' mum in exasperation called him "Jimmy... Fiddler"... and so the name stuck, and no more ignoring Mum!
He spent a number of years in the Royal Marines, being invalided-out in around the mid '70s due to a spine problem caused by a mis-judged parachute jump. He underwent spine surgery that went wrong, and was told that he would never walk again. His reply: "f*** that" as he strode out, never again to be without pain, but never giving in to the medics' prediction, nor to the pain.
Thereafter he lived in Plymouth, leading sessions as well as playing with the Pheasant Pluckers, Slipknot and many others. His club at the Riverside at Saltash was a golden era for Plymouth folk. He moved to Portugal (for the warmer drier climate, to ease the constant back pain) in the mid '80s.
He was so highly-regarded that when Stephane Grapelli did a concert in Plymouth he sent for Fids to play with him.
He was a profound influence on and mentor to a great many musicians - many of whom found him rather too "abrasive" for their own egos! However, those who came to know him well will tell you what a generous, sensitive and soft-hearted person he was, always ready to help anyone (even those he disliked) who was in need. When he won the Slow Air fiddle contest at Carrbridge in Scotland the judge said that "he played like a man with a broken heart". How true.
Such is his friends' regard for him that not only was a huge wake held for him in early 2010, but also a follow-up music weekend in March 2011. There are moves afoot to meet again in Spring 2012. Send a pm if you would like to join us, or if you would like to see video of the wake (including a clip of Georgie Heslop reading extracts from Fids' service record - it makes entertaining reading!).