Joyce Thomas (28 Feb 1930 - 19 Jul 2020)

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St Illogan Parish Church Church Town Road Illogan TR16 4SJ
4th Aug 2020
Funeral Director
Cornwall Funeral Services

Burial Details

Illogan Cemetery Church Road Illogan TR16 4SR
4th Aug 2020

In loving memory of Joyce Thomas who sadly passed away on 19th July 2020.

Joyce was a true lady of Illogan. One of her claims to fame was that she was not born in a hospital but in Illogan Churchtown Police Station – the daughter of the village policeman. Other than a two- year absence when her father was stationed at Blackwater, Joyce lived her whole life within a ½ mile of where she was born.

Her father was in the Salvation Army, her mother was with the Church of England and her husband was a Methodist. Joyce was a regular church-goer but could not really understand the denominational issues. She believed in Christ’s teaching “Love one another” and the parable of the Good Samaritan, helping all in need, caring for the sick and supporting the underprivileged

Her headmistress, Lucy Hammill, described her in a reference as ‘industrious, absolutely trustworthy with unfailing courtesy, loyalty and discretion. Her exemplary conduct has been a great satisfaction to me’. Attributes that stayed with Joyce throughout her life.

She was born 28th February 1930 and baptised six months later here in the Parish Church by Rev. Harry Oxland after whom Oxland Road opposite the church was named. Her playground were the open fields which are now the housing estates of Oxland Road, Coronation Road and Bridge Road where she lived for 64 years. Illogan Churchtown was the hub of the village in those days with three schools, post office, grocer and dairy as well as the police station.

Joyce’s family were somewhat privileged to have motorised transport in the 1930’s as her father had been in the military police in World War I and carried out his duties on a camel in Egypt and on a motor bike in Turkey. They had a motor bike and sidecar and with brother Ernest on the back and mother and baby Joyce in the sidecar they would travel to the local beaches and as far as Truro and Looe to visit relatives

Her friends all lived in Illogan Churchtown and often played at the Rectory (now Manningham) playing tennis on the Rectory tennis court and games in the Rectory and grounds. A friend, George Medlyn, tried to teach Joyce how to ride a bike in the Glebe outside the church. They both ended up in the stinging nettles and Joyce never tried to ride a bike again.

It may seem idyllic but World War II started when Joyce was 9 and she often recalled how she would look out of her bedroom window at night and see the red glow in the east that was Plymouth being blitzed. A close friend in Illogan Churchtown was left a teenage widow with a babe in arms when her husband of a few months was killed in a random aircraft attack on Redruth railway station. Joyce loved that little boy and later named her own son Terry after that baby. Joyce wrote a rather poignant verse in her autograph book during the ‘Blitz’ which reflected her fears at that time.

Joyce joined the Red Cross at the age of 11 and continued as an active member for more than 15 years. She soon became a cadet trainer and her team regularly won events throughout Cornwall. As a Red Cross member, she even covered shifts for the nurses at Tehidy Hospital to give them a day off although she was not too keen on some of the dirty jobs she was asked to do. She helped run the Red Cross baby clinic in the British Legion Hall and most babies born in Illogan in the fifties would have been weighed by Joyce and issued with their rations of National Dried Milk, cod liver oil and concentrated orange juice

She was a member of the Parish Church bell ringing team which rang the bells before each service and competed across the county in inter-church competitions. Living within the sound of the church bells, she would often say that the recorded bells were not as good as when she used to be a bell-ringer.

Joyce’s closest friend was Betty Coad and was thrilled to be asked to be her bridesmaid in early 1949 when Betty married John Wycliffe-Jones, the Rector’s son in the Parish Church. She kept quiet about her own plans to be married in the same church by the Rector later in the year.

When Joyce left school, she trained as a shorthand-typist and was employed by Camborne Water Board in their accounts and collection section. Not the best job for a sixteen-year-old to be knocking on people’s doors to collect the weekly payment and bad debts.
She was soon head-hunted by Trounson’s a large retail and wholesale business in Redruth to work in their accounts section. It was there that she met her husband Donald with whom she was to spend the next 66 years.

Donald was a worldly-wise sailor boy who had volunteered for the Navy in 1943 and came to work for Trounson’s when his tour of duty had finished. He was based at Chatham in Kent and would regularly go to the West End to see the Musicals and he spent a lengthy period in New York with the navy and was no stranger to Broadway.

He knew all the tunes and it was his rich tenor voice singing below her office window as he loaded the trucks that attracted Joyce. Her favourite was “We’ll gather lilacs” made famous by Frank Sinatra. Love blossomed during the summer of 1949 and Joyce was to learn the intricacies of cricket and how to cater for 22 hungry men during that summer. Despite that they were married in October 1949 and their elder son Terry was born the following year.

They lived with Joyce’s mother for the first five years at Paynters Lane End but when Joyce was expecting their second child, they were allocated a new council home in Bridge Road. Times were hard for the couple when Mervyn was born. Donald was captain of Illogan football team and had just started a new job with the Post Office. Just a week before the birth he broke his leg playing football and was hospitalised at Perranporth whilst his wife was detained at Redruth Hospital for a major operation after Mervyn’s birth.

With two young sons they feared for their job, home and income but managed to pull through by converting their stony new garden into a vegetable garden fit for “The Good Life”

Joyce had been born with green fingers with her uncles being Head Gardeners at Trevarno and Tremough country estates and her grandfather and uncles running market gardens in Truro and Looe. As their circumstances changed, Donald and Joyce were able to convert the potato patch that was their front garden into a prize-winning flower garden and lawn whilst their back garden remained a productive vegetable and fruit garden. They received a Certificate of Merit for their garden for ten consecutive years from Kerrier Council, being placed in the top three on three occasions and once awarded Kerrier Garden of the Year.

Her son, Mervyn, became profoundly deaf after contracting a severe virus at junior school age. Both Joyce and Donald took up the cause of helping the deaf in Cornwall and were both committee members of the Cornwall Deaf Children’s Society.

Joyce was a very enthusiastic member of the Illogan WI and worked hard every year to organise their annual Horticultural Show. There was a healthy rivalry between Joyce and Donald as to who could win the most certificates with Donald showing his fruit and vegetables and Joyce her floral art displays, potted plants, cakes and jams. They entered other local shows and Joyce loved to work with the Illogan WI team to make floral art displays for the Royal Cornwall Show.

She sold her produce at both Camborne and Illogan WI market and later went on to found the Illogan Country Market which was held weekly until recently at Illogan Village Hall which was originally the girls’ school she attended. She had regular orders for her cakes and sponges and her regulars looked forward to the fruit and vegetable season

Joyce was also a member of the ‘Young Wives’, the ‘Bright Hour’, Church Fellowship and the ‘Paynters’ weekly Coffee Morning and was a member of her church pastoral team that visited the sick, old and lonely in the community.

She was thrilled to celebrate her 90th birthday at home amongst friends and family on the 28th February 2020.

Whilst Joyce enjoyed the Illogan community what she loved most was her family. She was delighted that her sons and daughters-in-law were always close by to help her with whatever she needed.

She was so proud of her grandchildren Rebecca, Jonathan and Karen and their achievements at University and subsequent careers. She loved her great grandchildren Pirran and Ethan and never got tired of asking when they were next coming down from London to see her.

More recently Joyce was thrilled to add to her extended family when Mervyn’s lovely step-grandchildren came to visit and help with her weekly shopping excursions.

Joyce was the most loving, caring and devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and she will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege to know her.

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Karen Thomas donated in memory of Joyce
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Ann Cocks donated £50 in memory of Joyce

In memory of a lovely Aunty from Heather & Graham and Philip & Ann.

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