Obituary: Joan Hillyer

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Kathleen (Joan) Hillyer died at Quorn Grange, Rutland Care Village, aged 90.

She grew up in the small village of Bighton, Hampshire, where she lived with her parents, five sisters and two brothers.

At the start of the Second World War she joined the WVS as a driver and met her future husband, Henry (Jack) Hillyer.

They married on Joan’s 19th birthday at Bighton Church. Jack was an engineer with the RAF and they spent time together at Oban in Scotland, where Jack was a rear gunner on the Sunderland flying boats, escorting convoys in the Atlantic.

Jack then served in Egypt and Joan returned to Hampshire, where their first daughter, Anne, was born.

After the war Jack left the RAF and they settled in Porthtowan, Cornwall, where they loved living, but they both missed travel so Jack rejoined the RAF and served in Zimbabwe, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.

Joan followed him in 1951, embarking from Southampton with their children Anne, Barbara and Jackie.

The journey took six weeks. Jack met Joan in Cape Town and they travelled by train to RAF Bulawayo in Rhodesia.

On their arrival it was found there had been a mix-up with accommodation and they spent several months living on someone’s veranda.

When they were finally given married quarters, Joan had some years of comparative luxury as they employed locals, Johnny to help in the house and Monica who helped with the children. They had a good life in Africa and took the girls on wonderful trips to game reserves and to the coast.

After three years they moved to south Wales and their fourth daughter Alison was born.

From Wales they moved to Cologne in Germany and RAF Wyton in Huntingdonshire. Their last overseas posting was RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, and in 1966 they moved to RAF North Luffenham.

Jack took early retirement after a 31 year career with the RAF and the family settled in Noel Avenue, Oakham.

Joan worked as a cleaner at Southfields School before becoming a boarding house assistant for young girls at Lonsdale House, Rutland Girls School. Later she worked for Rutland Sixth form College in Oakham.

In the early 90s Joan was awarded the Rutland Mercury Supermum title in recognition of the love and dedication she gave young girls, first with her daughters and then with the boarders.

Joan lived at Noel Avenue until 1997, after Jack’s death, when she moved first to Rutland Court and then David Royce House at St John and St Annes complex, South Street, Rutland.

She leaves daughters Barbara and Jackie, eight grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Her daughters Anne and Alison pre-deceased her.

The funeral took place at Kettering Crematorium.

Mourners included: Barbara and Max Bayes, Richard Goodeve, John, Bam and 
Goolap Goodeve, Julie 
Goodeve, Danny McStay, Peter Harris (Becky, Megan and Archie), Antony and Lisa 
Harris (Maya, Tegan and 
Jenna), Jackie King, Mandi King, Katie King, Bob 
Bradshaw, Michael Duggan, Holly Duggan, Kim Barnes and Lee, Ellie Baugh and Jacob McConnell, Marjorie Pickering, Betty Hancock, Susan and Robert Barratt, Carol and Derek Thompson, Rosemary Gepp, Maureen and Nick Jupp, Dawn Berarey-Smith (representing girls from Lonsdale House).