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Joyce Taylor

 

Northampton 1912 - 1930

Joyce Winifred Lyne was born in Northampton on the 17th February 1912, the only child of Arthur William Lyne and Rose Jane Lyne (born Hall).

At the time of Joyce's birth Arthur, alongside most of his seven siblings, was working in Northampton's boot and shoe-making industry. Starting as an office boy at around fourteen years of age, by the outbreak of the 1914 - 18 war Arthur had risen to the clicking department of Messrs. Church and Co., one of Northampton's most famous shoemakers, still proudly in existence today.  Clickers were responsible for cutting out the leather uppers  - a highly skilled job requiring a well-developed spatial sense. The company's profitability depended upon maximising the number of uppers from a single piece of hide, whilst at the same time ensuring that any natural flaws in the material were avoided.

Along with his brothers Ernest, Herbert and Alfred, Arthur fought in the Great War, joining up in 1917 after his younger brother Ernest was killed on the Somme. He rose to the rank of sergeant. The photograph below shows Arthur in uniform with Joyce in 1917 when she was five. Next to it, is Joyce, aged around three with her mother Rose, whom she adored.

However, Arthur's ambitions extended well beyond the clicking floor. Always an active union member, he was elected Vice-President of the Northampton No. 2 Branch of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives in 1918, beginning a career in union, local and national politics that lasted for fifty years and included being elected as Mayor of Northampton in 1938 and as MP for Burton on Trent in 1945. He was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough in 1958 in recognition of his services to the city.

From Arthur, Joyce inherited a lifelong interest in politics, a lively enjoyment of political debate and a respect for public service, while Rose provided a model for the pleasures which could be gained from more domestic activities.  The eldest child of a large London-based family - she had nine brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom was twenty years younger than she - Rose helped support the family as a cloth cap machinist from the age of 14 until her marriage to Arthur in June 1911. She taught Joyce to enjoy and become skilled at sewing, cooking and home-making, skills our family benefited from throughout her life. With both parents coming from large families and large numbers of cousins available largely on tap, Joyce never seems to have experienced the loneliness of an only child. If on occasions she did, she had a close and constant companion in the form of a St Bernard who rarely left her side.

 

Pre-war and 1939 - 46

In the late 1920s when Joyce was in her late teens, Rose became ill with lung cancer. She spent long months in hospital in London and Joyce stayed with her there until her mother died in December 1931. It was this experience that led directly to Joyce’s decision to train as a nurse, enabling her in December 1939, shortly after the opening of WWII hostilities, to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve.

Embarking for Egypt in January 1941, she spent a year in Suez where she was commissioned as an officer, returning to Britain in 1942 to serve at military hospitals in York and Lincoln.

On 12th November 1944 she embarked for France as part of the British Liberation Army, serving at military hospitals in France until September 1945 when she was posted to Brussels. Here, at 108 British General Hospital, she met her future husband, John Taylor. By August 1946 both had been demobbed – Joyce with the honorary rank of Sister - and they married on 6th September 1946 at the parish church of St Augustine in Kensington, London.

For the next ten years, Joyce undertook the twin roles of secretary-receptionist for John’s medical practice as a consultant anaesthetist, and of mother to a growing family of three young daughters (Susan, Jennifer and Celia) and the family’s pet dog, guinea pigs and tortoises. She did this with her usual enthusiasm, aplomb and practicality, despite recurrent and severe bouts of bronchitis, a legacy of pneumonia in a pre-antibiotic era exacerbated by London smogs.

By 1956, frustrated by changes in British medical practice in the transition to the National Health Service and increasingly anxious about Joyce’s health, John – with Joyce’s full support - started looking for positions abroad. In early 1957, to the comprehensive bemusement of his peers, he accepted a job offer as Director of Anaesthesia for North-Western Tasmania. In early March that year the Taylor family sailed for Australia on the P&O liner, SS Strathnaver, arriving at Burnie in Tasmania in April 1957.

 

1957 - 2010

Once arrived in Tasmania, John rapidly became immersed in his new role. As the sole fully-trained and experienced anaesthetist on the coast, he spent long daytime and night-time hours travelling between four hospitals, undertaking emergency work and overseeing the anaesthetic practice of more junior practitioners and local GPs.

It therefore fell to Joyce to make a new home and settle the family in to their new life. And it was a very different life from the one she had left. Tasmania in the 1950s was like Britain before the war in terms of amenities and, often, attitudes.

However, her intelligence, ready sense of proportion and humour, quiet warmth of personality, steady courage and all-round good sense endeared her to her new neighbours and saw her and us through all the normal family highlights and crises until we all grew up and went our various ways.

They also provided a permanent magnet for her family  - and her extended family as we married and grandchildren came along. Wherever Joyce was, that was home to us all throughout the long life she enjoyed, at odds with all the medical prognoses. In John’s own words she was ‘the prop and mainstay of the family, always good-tempered, always loving, always forgiving.’ No family could ask for more.