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Hot Topic (More than 20 Replies) Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd) (Read 32,792 times)
Jan Cobb
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Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
27.05.2010 at 15:57:03
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I have the sad duty to pass on the news to all those visiting these pages that, on Monday 24th May 2010 in the evening, Air Commodore Joan Hopkins died of a heart attack. Further details regarding funeral arrangements will be added in this thread as soon as they become known.
  
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Alastair Wood
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #1 - 27.05.2010 at 18:46:42
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It was sad that such a giant amongst Fighter Controllers was lost touch with for so many years. I will have many fond memories of her and her very wise counsel. May she rest in a peace so richly earned.
  
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Mike Clarke
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #2 - 27.05.2010 at 20:54:11
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What a sad loss! Joan looked after her troops like no other commander that I ever served under. She was unique and irreplaceable, and I have so many fond memories of her as a Sector Controller and as Duty Air Defence Commander at HQSTC. As Alastair has rightly said, she was a giant amongst Fighter Controllers and, for me, we are poorer for her passing. May she rest in peace.
  
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Richard Jenner
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #3 - 28.05.2010 at 07:35:06
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Telegraph announcement here: http://announcements.telegraph.co.uk/deaths/116913/hopkins

A great leader who took a real interest in the development of her subordinates.

Richard Jenner
  
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Jan Cobb
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #4 - 28.05.2010 at 07:53:46
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Thank you, Richard

It is expanded here:

Quote:
Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE.

On May 24th, 2010 of Abereifed, Llechryd, Cardigan aged 74 years. Loved sister of Linda, William, Pamela, Christine, John and their families. Funeral on Wednesday, June 2nd at Parc Gwyn Crematorium, Narberth SA67 8UD at 1 p.m. Donations to RAF Benevolent Fund c/o the funeral director Mr Colin Phillips, 4 Morgan Street, Cardigan, Ceredigion, SA43 1DF. Tel: 01239 621192
  
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Tony Pleasant
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #5 - 28.05.2010 at 09:43:28
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How terribly, terribly sad that we were unable to meet with this great lady at any of our functions. A  tragic loss to the Fighter Control Branch.  All who knew her will mourn her passing. Tony and Maggie Pleasant
  
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Jan Cobb
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #6 - 28.05.2010 at 10:07:13
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As I have just been reminded in an email, I believe Joan may well have been the first female group captain in the FC Branch but, whether that was true or not, she was certainly the most influential! I worked for her as Gp Capt ADGE at STC then when she was promoted; an enlightening experience and one I will always cherish. Like Tony and Maggie, I wish I had had an opportunity to meet her again at one of our functions; 'twas not for want of trying, I have to say  Cry

Jan
  
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Tim Willbond
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #7 - 28.05.2010 at 10:49:07
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Joan was a true legend and a very professional officer who modelled her work as a Sector Controller on Dowding.  It was Joan who spurred my interest in Dowding and his work and, indeed, enthused others outside the Branch including AVM Sandy Hunter, who has become one of the leading experts on the Chain.

Joan was the Branch's first female Group Captain and one of the first three Air Commodores in the Branch; an achievement that has not been matched in the 20 years since her retirement.  It is a sad reflection that she never took part in any Branch event other than Al Knox's retirement party in London.  For all that she is remembered with great fondness by so many who had the Privilege to serve with her.
  
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Dave Todd
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #8 - 28.05.2010 at 11:05:00
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A great lady who I had the privilege to work for and with on more than one occasion.  She will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.

David
  
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Nick Gadd
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #9 - 29.05.2010 at 16:07:43
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I worked for Joan on several occasions and knew her for most of my service life. I always found her to be resolute, strong and utterly fair in her dealings with the people around her.
Although Joan did not attend many Branch events she did attend the lunching-out of Air Cdre Chislett and Gp Capt Martin in London during the time I was at MOD.
We mourn her loss and I for one have a good deal to thank her for.
  
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John Figgures
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #10 - 29.05.2010 at 17:41:18
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I knew Joan Hopkins when I was the R3 engineer officer at Boulmer.
A more caring officer I have yet to meet.
  
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Jan Cobb
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #11 - 30.05.2010 at 09:43:35
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Members and non-Members alike might like to know that I have received a message from Joan's brother, William, saying:

Quote:
...although Joan wished not to have a military style funeral, friends and officers of the RAF are most welcome to come and pay their last respects.

The family have been most touched by the comments posted on the internet and to learn she was held in such high regard.

We are meeting after the funeral at a local hotel where we would be delighted to see all her friends, past and present as the family know little about her life in Llechryd Cardigan or indeed her time in the RAF ....

The details of the funeral can be found above.

Jan
  
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Roger Penman
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #12 - 30.05.2010 at 10:18:42
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She held my respect as no other, even as a Flt Lt when I first met her at Bukit Gombak. Later at Boulmer, she taught this dull engineer how to operate her ground defence plan (the best "work" and working plan ever); I'll never forget her "Think Roger, THINK" during one of her excellently scripted war games. Her kindness and superb professionalism, coupled with her great communication skills were impressive. A truly sad loss!
  
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Malcolm Reeves
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #13 - 30.05.2010 at 12:26:27
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"Auntie Joan" was Wg Cdr Ops and PMC at Boulmer during my time as an FC before she too encouraged my departure to Aircrew. She was a real star! "Boggy" Brakes and I painted a message to 202 on the roof of the Mess the week before AOC's, the Stn Cdr told her to interview everyone and ask who was responsible. She ommitted to ask Brakesy and me so was able to tell the Staish that everyone she spoke to had no knowledge! She also declared the destruction of the glass doors into the ante-room on G/C Peter Botterill's dining-out night during an over-exuberant game of Mess-Rugby as...... "storm damage". Then there was the 5 extra SDO's for "Black-birding" Gerry Melhuish in the bar.............I could go on, another phase of RAF History now gone. RIP Joan.
  
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Jan Cobb
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #14 - 30.05.2010 at 20:27:41
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I have been pointed in the direction of this thread on PPRuNe; Joan's reputation went far and wide - but we all knew that, didn't we?
  
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Dick Jones
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #15 - 30.05.2010 at 20:41:49
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I never worked directly for Joan Hopkins, but as an ADGE engineer (Staxton Wold, Buchan, RIU, MOD and the FI) I met her on several occasions.  She was the epitome of the professional.  Outstanding at what she did, witty, caring and the one person you'd want in your foxhole when times were tough.  RIP Auntie Joan.
  
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Kath Hamper
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #16 - 01.06.2010 at 12:38:07
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oh b*****. Joan was CO at Neatishead while i was there - boss, friend and birdwatching buddy... as one of the CO's 'Duty Family' for entertaining visiting folks, i will always remember the off-duty lady, sliding round the supermarket on a shopping trolley... or getting stranded in the middle of the Broads when the boat broke down...got to smile!
She was a one-off...
i'll raise a glass or three.
Cheers, Boss!
  
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Mike Good
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #17 - 01.06.2010 at 19:56:17
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I was never lucky enough to have Joan as a boss but, back in the early eighties sometime, I failed to move fast enough to avoid being appointed Project Officer for the annual ADGE Convention to be held that year at West Drayton.  It was Joan's show so I guess she must have been at 11 Group at the time.  Anyway, when I'd finished briefing her on the arrangements, I asked if there was anything else she required.  She replied "Yes please Mike - the biggest ashtray you can find... emptied before every session".  I hope The-Big-Boss-In-The-Sky doesn't try making her stand outside Heaven for a smoke!

.....And wouldn't you love to have been a fly on the wall in CAS's office when Joan was invited to give up all this silly operational stuff and become DWRAF!?
  
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Graham Rowland
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #18 - 01.06.2010 at 21:30:11
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I had the privilege of serving under Joan Hopkins at RAF Neatishead. Words cannot express how highly she was thought of - for her natural management skills and popularity. You could not ask for a more genuine, caring Boss.
  
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Jan Cobb
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #19 - 03.06.2010 at 08:21:49
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A short obituary is on this page of The Telegraph. Thanks to Mike Clarke for pointing it out.
  
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Dave Todd
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #20 - 03.06.2010 at 10:45:13
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Gwyneth and I attended Joan's funeral in S Wales yesterday; Hilary Whiteway and Paul Chambers also turned up.  It was a very nice (if that is the right word) service and concentrated on celebrating Joan's life both within and outside the Service.  Joan's family made us most welcome and were very appreciative of an RAF presence - albeit a retired one.  I think that they had been surprised by the number of tributes posted on this and the Prune site and a couple of quotes from these were used in the service minus IDs to protect the guilty.  I also noted some surprise and interest from those who did not know much of her RAF career as to how globally she was known as 'Auntie Joan' and that this was a term of both respect and affection.  A good send off.

A copy of the Order of Service frontispiece is attached.

David
  

joan_hopkins.jpg ( 501 KB | Downloads )
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Jem Bateman
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #21 - 15.06.2010 at 10:03:04
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My mentor back at Buchan back in the 70s.  An inspirational lady and a good friend. RIP.
  
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KG Bennett
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #22 - 24.07.2010 at 08:12:18
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I served under Joan for nearly two years at Neatishead as her OC Eng. The plaudits are so richly deserved. I'll just add that her memory kindles so many happy memories.

KGB
  
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Andrew Marshall
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #23 - 07.08.2010 at 11:55:14
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I and my wife had the pleasure and honour to serve under Joan whist she was the Station Commander at RAF Neatishead. She was a warm caring person who always would take time out to talk to her subordinates, she will be sadly missed.
  
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Geraldine Henshaw
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #24 - 11.08.2010 at 11:08:56
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Joan Hopkins was THE most influential person in my RAF life.  I was a green, wet behind the ears WRAF ACTING plt off and her OC Accts when she was OC Admin at Boulmer 1976-78.  She taught me so many things and was without doubt the best boss a rather naive young woman could have.  She drove a very powerful blue car and was known for reaching over 100mph on the road to the Ops Site for a taceval.  She smoked like a chimney and she wore a woolly pully long before they were introduced for women.  She really really cared about her staff.  At a time when women were theoretically non-combattant she controlled squadrons of aircraft. Joan Hopkins broke new ground and she changed lives. I will always respect and remember her influence on mine. May she rest in peace.
  
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Chris Jones
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #25 - 13.08.2010 at 14:21:20
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Gents/Ladies,

I stumbled across this forum after a quick google search for Joan Hopkins.

She was my mother's cousin and, although not a close family member (mum was close to some of her sisters in age), I had the honour of meeting her on several occassions after she had left the RAF.

I am very proud to see that she had such an influence on so many people and happy that she is remembered fondly outside of the 'genetic' family.

Just wanted to pass on my regards.

Chris
  
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Roy Taylor
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #26 - 13.08.2010 at 23:38:44
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My memories of Joan Hopkins are not of an Air Commodore, a CBE or a commander of 500. To me she is 20-year-old Pilot Officer Joan Hopkins in charge of a very small CH watch at her first radar posting at St. Margaret's (Swingate) in 1956.
I was proud to have been on that watch at this notable wartime station as a newly trained AC1. We were there at its final days in mid 56, possibly on the last watch. I remember her as seeming slightly embarrassed at her position of command at such an early age, but always pleasant and agreeable.
  
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Jan Foster
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #27 - 21.08.2010 at 11:09:47
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I have only just found out about Joan’s death and I admit I have shed some tears.  I was only talking about her last night at a friend’s retirement party, saying she was one of the handful of people who had a huge influence on me.  I said I would like to meet her and be able to tell her how her support, back in the 60’s, had helped shape my life. 

When I first met Joan she was a Flight Lieutenant at RAF Bawdsey, I was a mere 18 year old, LACW.  I played badminton with Joan and other RAF personnel.  She encouraged me to ‘tidy myself up’ and take my promotion exams, which I did!  This was pretty significant as I had left school at 15 without any qualifications and joined the RAF at 17.  Joan encouraged me to have confidence in myself.

I then met her again when I was stationed at RAF Stanmore (Bentley Priory) and Joan was now a Wing Commander.  Again she helped me, this time in my quest to acquire my corporal stripes – but I also remember her beating me at squash!

I believe there was a television programme about her when she was Commanding Officer at RAF Boulmer.  I would really like to see it – does anyone know where I could get a copy?
  
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Richard Jenner
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #28 - 22.08.2010 at 09:24:23
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Jan,

It was RAF Neatishead not Boulmer that Joan Hopkins commanded. I've found this link to a film archive but it doesn't look like it is on general release:
http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/206922?view=synopsis

Richard
  
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Jan Foster
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #29 - 22.08.2010 at 13:16:16
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Thank you for that, Richard, I have just sent off an email to the British Film Institute asking if there is any way the film could be put on You Tube so that people can access it.

I think Joan was a Squadron Leader when I was at Bentley Priory and not a Wing Commander.

I have just looked at the previous thread "Where is Joan Hopkins?  I had put a message on that board to send her my best wishes.  I would like to thank Jan Cobb for getting the various messages to her via her brother.

Wouldn't it be lovely if the BBC or some other film/tv company could make a tribute to Joan?
  
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David Jones
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Re: Death of Air Commodore Joan Hopkins CBE WRAF (Retd)
Reply #30 - 16.10.2010 at 13:31:59
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I regret that I have only just been made aware of the sad and untimely loss of the "Boss" - I had the honour to serve as her Personal Assistant (I was her Corporal) at RAF Neatishead in the early 1980s - in fact 82-84. She was always pleased to hand back my baby daughter at the end of a Station Open Day - she had a great sense of humour and I fondly remember her referring to me as the "officer Jones" - Joan, or Ma'am, was totally devoted to her Service and her subordinates - she never wanted to be DWRAF - just to stay devoted to her profession as a Fighter Controller.

She was one in a million - and I often drove her home when her driver was unavailable; coffee at the house in the morning, keeping her office in order and dare I say, supply the smokes; often she would throw her dress cap across my office and the hat would hit the hat stand - if it missed, it was not a good day!.... and she was very trusting. She once asked me to draw a cheque and take it to the local bank to cash as she was returning from HQSTC/High Wycombe - when I said that there were no signed cheques in her book [which was held in the office] she stated "haven't you learnt to forge my signature yet!!" - well of course I hadn't.

I have many memories of Joan heading to the Norfolk Broads with camera in hand hunting for birds to photograph - it was her way of de-stressing....for my time with her; I remember the TV crew arriving not long after she had taken Command - the first female Gp Capt - our offices turned upside-down - they were memorable times; she often talked of family and I acknowledge her for allowing me to be a member of her extended family; one comment that has always remained with me as I have progressed with my own career - she said "remember it is always lonely in command" - indeed it is and those words have remained as I have led and managed businesses. Well, she has passed - I hope that her family in particular can take some comfort that she touched many, many lifes - she was an exceptional leader, lady and indeed Boss. I have often thought of her and wondered where she had ended her career - well, she is at rest and I shall continue to keep a thought and prayer for her.

God Bless, Boss.  Sad  Sad
  
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