Tributes to Leamington woman Joan - a respected leader

Joan Roberts, who has died at the age of 89

Joan Roberts, who has died at the age of 89

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Tributes have been made to a ‘stylish’ and ‘quick-witted’ Leamington woman who was a prominent member of the Women’s Guild throughout her life.

Joan Roberts, of Elan Close, died at the age of 89 in Hereford Hospital after suffering from dementia in her later years.

Joan meeting the Princess Royal during her work with the Women's Guild

Joan meeting the Princess Royal during her work with the Women's Guild

A Leamington resident for over 30 years, she moved to a care home in Leominster, Herefordshire three years ago.

She moved to Leamington in the 1980s, and quickly joined the Leamington South Town Women’s Guild. She quickly rose up the ranks and became chair of the Warwickshire Women’s Guild.

Ester Wadsworth, who worked with Joan as her secretary during her time at the guild, remembered her for her strong but fair leadership.

She said: “She was a very good chair of the guild. She didn’t stand for any nonsense and she believed in sticking to the rules. She was a little was old-fashioned, but not in a nasty way.

Joan in her younger years

Joan in her younger years

“I have to say she was genuinely respected by everybody and was a very good leader.

“I grew very fond of her during her time there and she became my friend when she retired.”

Born in 1926 in Highgate, North London, Joan lived in Crouch End for the early part of her life.

She shared a flat with her friend of 56 years Jennifer Green during the 1960s, and for a time lived below musician Ray Davies and his bandmates, who would go on to form The Kinks.

She said: “These lads would be playing guitars and it used to drive her potty. Of course, when they became The Kinks she enjoyed their music because of her former connection with them.

“She never fell out with me - in 56 years we never had a bad word to say to each other.

“I’ll remember her most for her quick-witted quips and her style - she’d get her hair cut every Thursday at the same place.”

She married her husband Tom in 1970 and went on to have a successful career working in the City of London before she moved to Leamington.

In his job with oil company Elf Oil, Tom worked with the Renault Formula 1 team between 1977 and 1985, as Elf sponsored the team during that time.

Joan would sometimes visit him at various Grand Prix, although she only really enjoyed the start of the races and would often wait in the VIP area for the race to finish. She met several top drivers during these visits, including four-time world champion Alain Prost.

A date for her funeral has not been set yet.