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Joyce Tapp who has family connections to charity fundraiser Peggy Wood and to Sixties pop band The Kingfishers celebrates her 100th birthday


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Joyce Tapp has celebrated her 100th birthday with a card from the Queen and a party at the Oast Nursing Home in Plains Avenue, Maidstone, where she now lives.

Born Joyce Brooker, on April 28, 1922, Joyce was the daughter of Fred and Sophie Brooker of Maidstone. Dad, who had served with Army in India during the First World War, was a briefly a publican, and mum his barmaid.

Joyce Tapp with her birthday cake
Joyce Tapp with her birthday cake
Joyce and her family at her 100th birthday party
Joyce and her family at her 100th birthday party

They had married in 1921, and Joyce has lived all her life in Maidstone, except for a brief stay in Dover when her father took over the tenancy of The Nelson Inn, where her sister Peggy was born.

The family lived initially with Joyce's grandparents in Union Street, before getting their own council home in Mangravat Avenue.

Joyce went to South Borough School, where she excelled at sport but was not so good at academic subjects.

She said: "As children we used to play by the Loose Stream at Tovil. We would tie a rope from a tree and swing across from one side to the other like Tarzan.

"When we lived in Mangravat, my Dad would insist we went to the Salvation Army Sunday School every week. They were good people, especially when my Dad found himself out of work. They would give my mum 10 shillings to help out."

Joyce Tapp as a young woman
Joyce Tapp as a young woman

She said: "By now, Mum used to work in the fields, in all weathers, which meant she often suffered from rheumatism.

"They both liked a drink and Sunday night was always spent in The Wheatsheaf pub, with us in the children's room with a lemonade and packet of crisps.

By this time Joyce had been joined by another sister, Pauline, and brother Fred.

Sunday was a day of ritual. with Mr Brooker always cleaning the brassware that day, and cooking a family breakfast.

Joyce recalls: "We always had a cooked breakfast and proper dinner on Sunday."

The Wheatsheaf pub, popular with Joyce's parents, pictured here in 1959
The Wheatsheaf pub, popular with Joyce's parents, pictured here in 1959

At Christmas, the children would hang up their mother's stockings to find them filled with an apple, orange and nuts in the morning. She said: "Presents were few and far between as there wasn't much money coming in, but we were quite a happy family in site of being poor.

"We had a street outing once a year to the seaside in an old charabanc.

"The boot would be loaded with beer and on the way, the charabanc would stop, the men would get the beer out and be already very merry before they even got to the coast.

"When we arrived, they would go straight to the pub, while the mothers and kids went on the beach."

She said: "We had an old tent that we liked to take down to Leysdown. One night we decided to sleep in it overnight. We were sleeping peacefully until Dad arrived three parts to the wind. He swung around, hitting the bicycle lamp we had at the top of the tent pole, which fell off hitting my sleeping brother and giving Freddie a black eye. Then the tent collapsed around us! Dad was not very popular that night."

The production line at the Sharps toffee factory in Maidstone
The production line at the Sharps toffee factory in Maidstone

Joyce said: "Down by All Saints in Maidstone, there used to be an old sailor with a rowing boat on the river. He had a white beard and looked like Captain Birdseye. He would row us across the river for a penny."

After leaving school, Joyce's first job was in service, but she only lasted there a week, because she missed her family too much to live in.

She recalled: "Then I was at Sharps Toffee Factory making Easter Eggs and then onto Woolworths for a while until war broke out. Then I moved to the Tilling Stevens factory making armature winders for the war effort.

"From there it was on to Reeds paper mill at Tovil, which is where I met my husband-to-be Edward Tapp."

Edward (Ted) was to spend all his working life, aside from his military service, at Reeds, where he was a machine operator.

Reed's paper mill in Tovil, taken in 1963
Reed's paper mill in Tovil, taken in 1963

Joyce added: "We had only been courting a short while when he was called up to join the RAF, so after a few months I followed him, joining the WAAF.
"I was in the WAAF for two years, first working with barrage balloons on the Norfolk Broads and then in motor transport. I was taught to drive lorries and tow the aircraft in and out of the hangars."

She was based at RAF Tangmere, which was one of the busiest fighter stations during the Second World War.

Joyce said: "Ted and I married at St Martin's Church in Shepway on August 8, 1942, while we were both still in the forces, after which I become pregnant with my first son Bryan.

"We lived for a while with Mum and Dad at Mangravet where Bryan was born. Then we shared a house with my sister Pauline and her husband George at Ringlestone."

Joyce Tapp made several nostalgic return trips to RAF Tangmere in later years and on one occasion got to sit in the cockpit of a jet fighter
Joyce Tapp made several nostalgic return trips to RAF Tangmere in later years and on one occasion got to sit in the cockpit of a jet fighter

Joyce said: "Eventually we got out own pre-fab at Barming in Gatland Lane, where my second son Ronald was born in 1950.

"Later the council wanted to pull down the pre-fabs and build flats which we didn't fancy."

Joyce said: "We had saved a little money by then and put it as a deposit on a house in Brockenhurst Avenue.

"We were there 20 years, before moving to Loose Road and finally to Friars Court in Queen Anne Road, Maidstone."

In the 1960s, Ted became the manager of a pop group, called Clive King and The Kingfishers, later known just as the Kingfishers.

Clive King, front man with Sixties group Clive King and the Kingfishers
Clive King, front man with Sixties group Clive King and the Kingfishers

Ted and Joyce's son Bryan was the group's original drummer, with the group also featuring Richard Everington, Dave Watson, Kenny Evans, and of course Clive King.

Later line-ups included Tony Bathurst and Mick Forrest. The group never released a record, but had a regular slot at The Star Ballroom in Maidstone and won the town's Get With It beat competition in the early 1960s.

Until Bryan became old enough to pass his driving test. Joyce acted as the group's roadie, driving them to their gigs.

She also worked at The Rat Trap coffee bar in Maidstone, which Ted looked after on behalf of the owner, where the group also played downstairs in the cellar.

Ted Tapp's business card for The Kindfishers, whom he managed (56435923)
Ted Tapp's business card for The Kindfishers, whom he managed (56435923)

Joyce's younger sister was Peggy Wood, known throughout Maidstone for her fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Kent Leukaemia and Cancer Equipment Fund (now known as the Peggy Wood Foundation), which raises money for vital cancer care equipment to support local hospitals.

The two sisters were close, at one time working together cleaning telephones in the offices of Maidstone businesses. They were also both musical, and the pair would play the Hammond organ in a double act to raise funds for Peggy's charity.

Although Joyce's health has now deteriorated, she remained active into her senior years. She was still tap-dancing in her seventies and playing bowls in her 90s.

She was also a keen member of the East Farleigh WI and the Maidstone Active Retirement Association.

Beside her two sons, she has four grandchildren: Gary Stuart, Nicola and Sam, and five great-grandchildren: Ben, Jasmine, Gabriella Sophia and Sebastian.

Joyce's younger sister Peggy Wood died in 2006
Joyce's younger sister Peggy Wood died in 2006

He family have now spread across the world, with Gary living in Spain, and Sam in Malaysia.

Her husband, Ted Tapp died in 2019. He was 97. The couple had been married for 77 years.

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