Joy Morgan 13 November 1919 – 18th January 2012.

A Blog in celebration of a very brave and remarkable public servant.

Joy, a former Met officer, was a very dear friend who wrote to me years ago when I was fighting my equality case. She asked me for lunch. I was touched by the gesture. I knew of her in the force but she was before my time. We had kept in touch and took the occasional trip together. A circulation problem demanded leg amputation before Christmas but at 93, this was a battle too far, even for Joy. I went to her cremation and service of celebration on 6th February, travelling down the night before and the journey was horrendous. I don’t get on with my Tom Tom and it let me down again driving down to Northampton on a filthy night. Between us, I managed to overshoot the M1 and found myself heading back North up the M5. Pulled into service station asap and two very decent chaps worked out what I had done wrong and how, more importantly to get to my destination. I finally found the Travel Lodge and couldn’t wait to get to my room. Unbelievably, the hotel had been overbooked by at least 4 and a couple rolled up after me. “Happens all the time”, said the receptionist and there followed an anxious wait whilst she booked me into another hotel in the town.

My demand for a free taxi was not challenged and I finally got to a room around 10pm. A real nightmare. Finding the crematorium for 9.30am the following day was equally challenging as the Tom Tom refused to accept the post code. With the help of a lady walking two huge dogs, who quickly gave me clear instructions, I made it with 5 minutes to spare. The sat nav will be binned.

Joy had served in the war as a bomb warden and more than once came very close to death as it was her job to locate and protect until professionally defused. Unexpected explosions were just a hazard of her daily life. She joined the Met Police. Later, her talents were soon spotted and she was asked to train women for the force in Aden. Being a Moslem country, some fanatics were not keen on her training women. More than once she survived an ambush & her driver had to out run the baddies in the car behind. She told these frightening stories with such calm as if there were of no account.

Having finished that tour, she was head-hunted by a neighbour MI5 who admitted he had been observing her for some time. Joy was immediately projected into the secret world of espionage and spy hunting. Joy gave very little detail of her work but was justly proud of assisting in putting away a serial spy for many years. Sadly, I failed to bully her into writing her life story which was one of incredible courage with her constant desire to keep us safe and protect us.

On holiday, her ability to chat to everyone was soon apparent. We flew to Barbados on one of the last Concord flights and she had no difficulty in persuading the hotel owner to give us free tickets to the England West Indies test match. It was a wonderful day. Our neighbours shared their lunch boxes and plied us with the local hooch. No matter which team won. It was all such fun and we rolled back to our hotel in the highest of spirits. She made dolls houses, buying the special kits and fitting them up with lights and furniture that all worked. One raised £9000 after being raffled for the Royal Marsden for a restaurateur friend whose wife had cancer.

On Wednesday,the service of celebration was held in Braunston, Northampton. Its steeple can be seen from miles away. Twelve years ago, I was there to mark the passing of her partner. The lady vicar was wonderful. She enabled everthing to pass off smoothly and with dignity. What a skill to be able say so many kind things about a woman she had probably never ever met.

We were invited back to her house for Joy’s last party but I ducked it. Too many fond memories of wandering round her spacious garden, quaffing from her cellar and talking to her two handsome cats. Going back is never easy. I did not want to see if the photograph of me still held pride of place in her lounge. I needed to get back. My cats were on their own and my dogs were running up eye watering amounts in the local kennel. Joy would have understood that returning was more important than the party where the revellers could do no more than to drink to a very special absent friend.

The sat nav is back in its original box and is heading for a charity shop. It works but clearly not always for me. Hope the next owner has more luck.

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