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Albany roots of a national star

HEART IN BATHURST: Jeremy Mansfield (far right) with his siblings (left to right) Charles, Ann and Steven. The photo was taken at his niece’s wedding in front of Clumber Church. Image: pike family

Jeremy Mansfield declared in 1984 that he wanted to be a top broadcaster. In his final hours 38 years later, surrounded by family and friends, that was among the many things he could count to his credit.

His beginnings were here in the Eastern Cape – his mother Veronica was one of 10 Claytons (Jeremy had LOTS of cousins!). Later, when he was famous, ‘the farm’ to which Jeremy retreated when the bright lights got too much was the home of his sister Annie and brother-in-law Neill Pike near Bathurst.

Because he was such a public figure in Joburg, he kept a low profile when he came to Lower Albany. “He wasn’t really a photo enthusiast when he was here to chill,” Neill said, explaining why photos of him were so scarce in this part of the world.

He loved coming to the farm and he loved hanging out in the social corners of Bathurst.

“He loved Fish River Mouth – the family had a cottage there and used to vacation by the sea when they were kids.”

“A lot of the stories he told on the radio were from the Bathurst area – usually embellished, of course, as it should be!” Pike said, “And often with the support of a Bathurst dumpie or two in the pig and whistle.”

Jeremy’s roots ran deep into the area: Born in Grahamstown (now Makhanda), he attended Oatlands Prep and Kingswood College before studying journalism and theater at Rhodes University.

Carey Hobson of the Old Kingswoodian Office provided some details of his time there.

He matriculated at Kingswood in 1981. He was a day boy at Jagger House.

He was not a great sportsman: debating and acting were his strengths. He also undertook an educational tour of Britain and Europe while at Kingswood.

Jeremy loved his time in the famous Kingswood Brass Band – he was a drum major during his matric year. He then attended Rhodes University. Jeremy studied language, drama and journalism during which time he received the 1985 AA Vita Award for Most Promising Young South African Actor.

His broadcasting career is well documented (here’s a starting point: https://bit.ly/JeremyDispatch), but most notably, Jeremy was a contributor and guest presenter on M-Net’s Front Row, and in a massive “reader” poll, Jeremy was voted Voted Johannesburg’s Favorite Personality and Best Radio Presenter.

Jeremy is co-author of the fun cookbook Zhoozsh! In this book he has reproduced a school report from his days at Kingswood where his English teacher stated in the comments section that Jeremy talks too much in class and that if he continues this habit he will not get anywhere in life!!

“Well, little did she know,” said Hobson.

Former fellow student Khume Kangala picks up the story:

As a member of the student-run Rhodes Music Radio, Kangala enjoyed the collegial mentoring of Mansfield, whom he remembers as friendly and helpful – and with a strong personality.

“We always knew where he was,” Kangala said, as he drove a Jeep with “FAT MAN GP” written on the license plate.

“Jeremy declared in 1984 that one day he would be a top DJ/broadcaster; and he definitely ticked that box,” Kangala told Talk of the Town.

At Rhodes University he met the mother of his daughter Gabriella.

The current acting director of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Dr. Jeanne du Toit, said: “I didn’t know him personally, but I saw how he inspired those who worked with him. He made radio an art form and made it seem effortless.”

Du Toit’s teaching and research focus is radio.

“The school will always be proud of what he has achieved.”

Radio and television personality Jeremy Mansfield was born August 15, 1963 and died October 31, 2022. He is survived by daughter Gabriella Mansfield and partner Karen “Kari” Corbett. His brothers Steven and Charles died last year, as did his mother Veronica, who lived in the retirement village of Settlers Park.

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