Town mourns for fundraising stalwart
by Hayley Robinson
Tributes have poured in for
fundraising stalwart Joyce Fuller.
The 88-year-old died of
pneumonia at Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham, on New Year’s
Eve, just 24 hours after being admitted on to a ward.
Her death not only came as a
shock to her son Geoffrey, his wife Liz and their five-year-old
twins Matthew and Ellie, but also the Swale community.
Until she passed away Mrs
Fuller, of Berkeley Court, Sittingbourne, was vice president of the
Sittingbourne Society, president of Swale Footpaths Groups and a
member of the joint governing body for The Oaks Infants and
Minterne Junior School.
She was also a lifelong
active member of the Sittingbourne and Sheppey Conservative
Association where she was deputy chairman with special
responsibility for Conservative Policy Forum discussion.
But her work for the British
Heart Foundation (BHF) will be best remembered.
After losing her husband
Bill, aged 58, to a heart attack in 1978 the widow set up the Swale
and Sittingbourne branch for the charity in 1984.
Over the years she organised
various fundraising events such as sponsored swims, walks and
skipping events, generating £250,000 for the Foundation.
Son Geoffrey, 51, said: "To
be honest the British Heart Foundation is one of things I’m most
proud of her for. She was very determined. Her death was a great
shock but there are a lot of things to be thankful for. It was
quick and she was comfortable and it was in hospital.
"She would have hated not
being able to drive and get out and about. Driving was a mark of
Those who knew Joyce will
know her age was a closely guarded secret.
Mr Fuller added: "She thought
people would write her off but I always said to her ‘on the
contrary you should be proud of how old you are’.
"Now she’s gone her secret
can be revealed. I don’t think she would mind, I think she would be
happy for people to know."
Kim Brophy, fundraising
volunteer manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Joyce’s
contribution to the fight against heart disease cannot be
under-estimated. She was a fantastic, tireless ambassador and will
John Burke, chairman of
Sittingbourne and Sheppey Conservative Association SSCA, said:
"Joyce Fuller deserves the highest recognition and thanks from us
all. To the end, despite suffering from osteoporosis, she was still
actively involved in all her favourite charities.
"While never seeking public
office Joyce attended every Conservative Party Conference over the
last 40 years since 1973 where she made many conference speeches
and was well known throughout the party and to many Prime
Ministers, Cabinet members and MPs.
"It will be hard to replace her
energy and commitment."
Richard Calvert, chairman of The
Sittingbourne Society, said: "The society owes her a great debt for
all her work.
"She took a special interest in the administration of the
John George Jordan bequest fund which the society administered for
the benefit of the people of Milton Regis.
"In short, the society will miss
the commitment and energy Joyce brought to it."
Cllr Adam Tolhurst said: "Joyce was a very private person
who adored and was very proud of her son. She also missed her late
husband very much to the extent that she would not remove the rose
bushes in her front garden at any cost because he planted them just
before he died.
"Joyce was very secretive when it came to her age because
she didn't want to be written off as too old, or not to be taken
seriously. It just demonstrates that age is not a barrier. Joyce
was a true character of Swale and she will be missed by
Gordon Henderson MP said: "I was desperately sad to learn
of the death of Joyce Fuller. She was a real stalwart of our local
community and epitomised what is meant by the Big Society.
"She was passionate about politics and few people realise the level
of influence she had on policy formulation within the Conservative
"The last time I saw Joyce was in November at the count for the
election of Kent’s Police Commissioner. Her dedication in attending
that count sums up Joyce Fuller."
Conservative colleagues Cllr Mike Whiting and Cllr Alan
Willicombe said:"We are proud to have considered ouselves Joyce's
friends, and it was a terrible shock to hear of her death. Our
thoughts are with her family.
"Joyce gave selflessly of her time to a number of
charities and organisations in the town, particularly the British
Heart Foundation, for who she raised many thousands of pounds over
the years. We, along with many others, will miss her
Labour leader Roger Truelove said: "Those of us in the
Sittingbourne Labour Party were sorry to hear about the death of
"Joyce was the "big society" before it became a political
catch phrase. She was involved in so many charitable and voluntary
organisations. She had a sharp mind and could see through ill
thought out waffle."
The family will hold a private
funeral for Joyce later this month but anyone who knew her is
invited to attend a thanksgiving service at St Michael’s Church,
High Street, Sittingbourne, on Wednesday, January 23, at 2pm.
Instead of flowers people are asked
to make a donation to the British Heart Foundation Sittingbourne
branch via R High and Sons, 1 Bayford Road, Sittingbourne,
telephone 01795 472958.
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