Local Face: Joy Heels

  |  Published: Jul 1st 1996

Joy Heels is especially well known to the women and girls of Wendover as the Guide District Commissioner. She has lived in Wendover since moving to Castle Park Road in 1967 then to Manor Crescent in 1978.

This is a surprising turn of events for Joy who had not even heard of the Guiding movement until her youngest child asked if she could become a Brownie like all her friends at school. Joy had an idyllic childhood, a War baby, the fifth of six children of a farm labourer of Sir Robert Barlow. They lived in a tied cottage in King's Ash. Running water and electricity were not connected until after the war. Joy's elder brothers and sisters walked to school in Lee Common but by the time she reached five a school bus was laid on for the first time. At eleven she went to Misbourne School, again transported by the school bus.

Otherwise, there was not much in the way of transport so these rural children had a wonderful time exploring the wooded Chiltern Hills around their home. Courting was local so that Joy's parents and four of her brothers and sisters all now live in Lee Common where Joy works at the Montessori School. One brother lives in Missenden and Joy is in Wendover. She has six grandchildren who live in Aylesbury and Buckingham. When Joy's youngest child wanted to join, there was an adult leader vacancy at Second Wendover Brownies on a Thursday evening. In September 1985 Joy became Unit Helper to Kate Bowley's Brown Owl. By January 1986 Kate had to move on, so Joy experienced rapid promotion to Brown Owl ably assisted by Carol Blythe as Tawny Owl. By then she was absolutely hooked on the Guide movement which gave her the great pleasure and privilege of working with young people and channelling their enthusiasm. Even now, Joy may be feeling tired after a long day working, caring for elderly parents as well as seeing to her own grandchildren but she finds the fun of being with young people is infectious and she invariably comes home exhilarated

As well as leading the Brownie Pack, Joy became the Division Pack Holiday Adviser for three years. When the District needed a new Commissioner she started training straight away and received her warrant in May 1992. Joy only retired from Second Wendover Brownies in July 1995, to concentrate on her work as District Commissioner, leaving them in the capable hands of Melanie Evans. Almost immediately, a vacancy appeared with 4th Wendover Brownies so Joy is Wise Owl for the interim. The Guide Movement is always delighted to welcome new Leaders for all age ranges, Rainbows, 5-7 years, Brownies 7-10 years, Guides 10+ years, Rangers 14+ years in Wendover, Weston Turville, Aston Clinton, Stoke Mandeville, Halton.

As well as weekly meetings during term time, most Brownie Pack go on Holiday together and all Guides who want to have an opportunity to go on Company or International Camp. Buckingharnshire also has its own orchestra for Guides and Rangers.

Before joining the Guiding Movement, Joy had been a Badger leader with St John Ambulance and still is a Special Friend. Joy was a First Aider for Wendover Swimming Association. She was also Secretary to Wendover Mother's Club but again had to concentrate on the District Commissioner Post once appointed.

Part of her daughter's Brownie Promise involved "duty to God" so the family became more regular attenders and started going to Wendover Free Church. Joy finds it really friendly and enjoys the growing links between Wendover Free, St Anne's RC and St Mary's CofE. She is on the Church Cleaning and Flower Rotas and cooks the food for the Autumn Fair. Joy's husband Eric is a Church Elder. Never a dull moment!

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