20th May 1928 – 6th July 2009
Remembering my Dear, Kind, Gentle Joyce.
‘To know her was to love her’
final tribute by her husband Harry
A eulogy delivered at her funeral on 17th July by Jem Sewell
As we gather to give thanks for the life of Joyce, a life that was both full and varied, a life that touched many people, I want to take this opportunity to tell you just some of the details of the 81 years.
Joyce was born in Portsmouth where her father was based in the Royal Navy. She was the middle child with an older brother Des and sister Pauline. Her early life involved several moves of both home and schools starting in Brighton where her father had a smallholding and then the Upper Dicker, Victoria Road Herstmonceux and then to Grove Hill to another smallholding while attending schools in Herstmonceux and Hailsham. Due to the war Joyce left school at 14 and started working for Mr Ade at Grove Hill Farm alongside Steve Bovis where she quickly learnt to drive tractors and handle machinery exceeding the work done by the men!
When Joyce was 19 she married Bernard Ford and they settled at Nearby in Cinderford Lane, a small bungalow with no mains water or electricity. They started a contracting business and worked together ploughing fields, making hay and cutting corn on local farms. Anne was born and often spent many days of her early years travelling with them as they moved from farm to farm, reputedly content to be contained in the baler box and looked after by their dog! ( Those were the days!)
Joyce was a homemaker, gardener, decorater, and with help enjoyed breaking in her own horse as well as rearing chickens from day old to point of lay. In 1958 they moved to Lime End Farm, Herstmonceux and farming took over from contracting. By this time Joyce had had their second child John so there was less work for her on the farm.
However, as well as running the farmhouse and garden, Joyce also bred and traded several horses and ponies, and regularly attended the local hunt and gymkhanas with Anne. She was an excellent cook with many people enjoying hospitality at Lime End and some stayed for extensive periods of time. Steve Bovis was one of these (he had been their best man) and on one occasion a steel girder fell off a trailer injuring his leg. Joyce went out and lifted it off and when later Steve tried to move it he couldn’t! For this he gave her a gold Rolex watch.
A third child Alan was born but Joyce continued to care for others including her parents up until their deaths and her brother Des who stayed with them at the farm prior to being in a home in Hailsham. She was industrious breeding canaries, budgies, finches becoming a member of Hailsham Bird Club as well as rearing Siamese cats.
The operation of agricultural machinery gave way to domestic machines and her sewing machine and knitting machine produced many fine garments which were often given as birthday and Christmas presents. True to the “female” claim she was a real multi-tasker cooking lunch, having a conversation whilst the radio or TV were on and if you suggested turning them off she indignantly replied that she was listening or watching!
Bernards untimely death in 1992 brought about great changes in her life and she subsequently looked for other opportunities to meet people and soon put her energies into Bowls at the Hailsham Bowls Club. Here she met Harry and he encouraged in areas of Art and Dance. Again Joyce quickly became skilled at both winning Ladies Pairs trophy at Bowls, achieving high standard in Line and Wash watercolour and with Harry achieved the Gold Medal standard at both ballroom and Latin American dancing winning a Rumba competition. Their friendship deepened to love and they were married at Boship Farm Hotel which had farming family connections and afterwards moved to “Foxes Corner” at Stone Cross.
The next fourteen years Harry describes as “sweetheart”years, – no work, no children to rear and no money worries yet still close to Joyces family. This was sadly curtailed by the diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. Harry became her carer with increasing dependence – as a family we feel he did a superb job. She died at home with Harry attending her.
Joyce as I knew her was not a church goer. She cared for people was very good looking, kept herself well and worked hard at all she did. Her faith was not evident but in conversations with Anne it was clear that she had a strong faith in God. As evangelist Angus Buchan when quoting the Bible says “Good people don’t go to heaven – Believers go to heaven.”
Joyce died a believer so she is not here. She is at peace with Him in heaven.