Saffron Walden community stalwart Joy Turnbull dies

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015 on a surprise 90th birthday celebration at the Day Centre, one o

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015 on a surprise 90th birthday celebration at the Day Centre, one of many insitutions in the town she helped establish. - Credit: Archant

Joy Turnbull, a community stalwart whose efforts improved many lives, has died aged 95.

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015.

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015. - Credit: Archant

Joy died peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, April 21 at the Stanley Wilson Lodge care home.

Her son Mike Turnbull said they had been in touch via video chat only three hours before she died which was a great comfort to him.

He said: “It was nice I had that contact with her, just before she went.” He said that her death was not related to Covid-19.

Joy Turnbull’s significant community efforts were celebrated in 2015 with a surprise party when she reached her 90th birthday.

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015 at a surprise 90th birthday celebration. Representatives from ins

Joy Turnbull, photographed in 2015 at a surprise 90th birthday celebration. Representatives from insitutions in the town she helped establish were present, including some from Lions, Mencap and the Day Centre. - Credit: Archant


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Joy Turnbull was born and raised in the east end of London. She left school at 14 to join the war effort, making army tents. At the age of 19 she qualified as a nursery nurse.

She moved to Saffron Walden in 1945 with her husband Jack Turnbull who had been an ambulance driver in the London Blitz. He died in 2010. In Walden they provided the local emergency ambulance service until the NHS was set up in 1948.

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Joy worked for many years with the Saffron Walden district nurses. She helped with many home births and worked as a nurse for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Hospital Service at the local hospital. To train more WRVHS first aiders she founded the Saffron Walden branch of the St John Ambulance Brigade and became its superintendent. She and Jack organised first aid cover for community events.

She was a Saffron Walden Baptist Church worshipper for 75 years and was the children’s Sunday school teacher. She was also a classroom assistant at Saffron Walden Nursery School for many years.

Sir Alan with Joy Turnbull, pictured in 2015.

Sir Alan with Joy Turnbull, pictured in 2015. - Credit: Archant

Joy Turnbull chaired the Saffron Walden & District Charitable Welfare Association which supplied equipment such as wheelchairs, walking aids and other equipment to disabled and injured people. When it closed in August 2008 Mrs Turnbull presented the last of the association’s money to the local MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, patron of the League of Friends of Saffron Walden Community Hospital. The equipment is now continued by the Saffron Walden Lions Club.

In 1963 Joy Turnbull established Saffron Walden MENCAP.

She also founded the day centre for the over 55s in Hill Street, which was renamed as the Garden Room in September 2013, and her surprise 90th birthday celebration took place in that venue, with speeches, cake and champagne.

Her funeral takes place on May 5 at Cam Valley Crematorium for immediate family because of Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

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