‘Inspirational’ Whitby teacher Joyce Turner passes away aged 86

A former teacher who was “deeply rooted” in Whitby has died aged 86.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 8:05 am
Updated Friday, 1st November 2019, 8:06 am
Joyce Turner

Joyce Barry Turner was born on May 2 1933 in Normanby Terrace, and was brought up by her mother’s sister Lilian, known as “Auntie”, after her mother Ethel died soon after giving birth.

According to her god-daughter, Rachel Simonson, Joyce had two passions in life – reading the Whitby Gazette and photography. She took tens of thousands of pictures in her lifetime.

Joyce first appeared in the Whitby Gazette after a picture of her, holding up one finger on her first birthday, won a prize. This sparked her interest in the paper where she would often write to the editor.

Speaking about her god-mother, Rachel said: “Joyce had a great life, she enjoyed people and good friends, discussion, rude health, good food, and the natural world. She was rooted deeply in Whitby yet she had the means to travel extensively; a beautiful home as well as a summer beach hut on the sea wall, in the place she adored; a profession which fulfilled her and an awareness of God’s hand on her life.”

Joyce was educated in Whitby and at the age of 11 transferred to the grammar school, where she would later teach. After being a prefect and editor of the school magazine, Joyce went off to King’s College, Durham University, to study English, French and Philosophy.

After her degree she went to Brittany to teach English for a year. She then taught French for three years at Bishop Auckland Grammar School.

In 1960 she came back to Whitby and started teaching French at the Grammar School where, of course, she had been a pupil not so many years earlier.

She became an “inspirational” teacher and after her retirement in 1991, headmaster Brian Barker said her "record of service to the school and to the community is outstanding".

Rachel also spoke about Joyce's passion for travel: "Joyce loved to travel and in addition to the school trips, her holidays were a massive highlight each year, she travelled extensively, often visiting friends and relatives.

"In 1986 Joyce met Albert Hicks on a cruise. They became firm friends and after that he visited Whitby three times per year for almost 30 years, growing to love the town and calendar of events as much as she did. He was such an extrovert and he complemented her more cautious nature perfectly bringing out the very best in her.

"They had so much fun with her existing circle and they made new friends together by volunteering on The Endeavour, attending concerts and spending time on the sea wall."

After Albert passed away in 2016, Rachel said "something changed for Joyce".

She added: "Memory and medical issues began to manifest, however due to the incredible support particularly from Sandra and Walter Turner she was able to stay in her home of 60 years.

"After she was diagnosed with Dementia last summer, the momentous decision to transition Joyce into full time residential care was made and she moved around the corner to Peregrine House."

Joyce passed away peacefully at her residential home, Peregrine House, on September 30.

Her Yorkshire paintings and antique jet collection have been donated to the town’s museum and art gallery in Pannett Park. Donations in her memory to The Alzheimer’s Society exceed £700.