Birthday of 90-year-old woman celebrated in day centre she founded

Joy Turnbull (centre) enjoyed a surprise 90th birthday celebration at the Garden Room on Friday. Rep

Joy Turnbull (centre) enjoyed a surprise 90th birthday celebration at the Garden Room on Friday. Representatives from insitutions in the town she helped establish were present, including those from Lions Club of Saffron Walden, the town's Mencap branch and the Garden Room. - Credit: Archant

The remarkable achievements of a 90-year-old woman were celebrated last week in the day centre she was instrumental in founding.

Joy Turnbull

Joy Turnbull - Credit: Archant

Joy Turnbull, who entered her tenth decade last Thursday, was surprised at the Garden Room in Jubilee Gardens with speeches, cake and champagne by a crowd paying tribute to her lasting legacy to the town.

“Most people would need 150 years to achieve what you have done in a lifetime,” Saffron Walden Mencap’s Daphne Cornell told Joy, who established the branch of the learning and disability charity in 1963.

Mrs Turnbull, who has lived in Saffron Walden for 70 years and on Loompits Way for fifty of those, also fought tooth and nail to found the day centre, which was renamed as the Garden Room in September 2013.

“If it wasn’t for your dedication, this wouldn’t exist,” manager Lynda Jackson told the assembled company, explaining how Joy had pioneered the service at a time when the council had considered there to be no need of the facility.

“You fought hard to keep it going. It started up in huts, we didn’t have furniture. That we have this now is a result of you.

“You should be very, very proud of yourself,” she added.

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The Garden Room is now an invaluable resource to the hundreds of over 55s in Saffron Walden and surrounding villages who use it, providing a place to socialise as well as hot meals at a reasonable price.

Also present at the birthday celebration, organised by son Mike Turnbull, was John Martin of the Lions Club of Saffron Walden, who praised the Appliance Loan Service set up by Joy which has benefitted many disabled and injured people.

Joy was chairman of the former Saffron Walden & District Charitable Welfare Association which supplied equipment such as wheelchairs, walking aids and other equipment to disabled and injured people until it closed in 2009. Despite the closure Joy continued to supply of range of equipment along with her late husband Jack through the Lions, initially using their garage as a storage space.

Sir Alan Haselhurst MP was also present in his capacity of President of the League of Friends of Saffron Walden Community Hospital.

“She is someone who seems to have dispensed good work throughout Saffron Walden,” said Sir Alan.

“She generates such good-will in all that she does […] in so many different manifestations that help other people,” he added, presenting Joyce with a gift of chocolates from the House of Commons.

The Garden Room celebration was just one of three put on in the town to honour Joyce’s incredible life so far.

Joy was also presented with flowers and a birthday cake at a meeting of the St John Ambulance Brigade Youth Division on Thursday, where she was praised by one young cadet as someone who had started the beating heart of Saffron Walden’s St John Ambulance.

The Baptist Church completed the triad of celebrations at the service on Sunday, where Rev John Goddard thanked Joy for her devotion to the church and the breadth of her charitable work over the past 70 years.