Growing up

Joy was the first child of Jim and Rosie Hewer (who were quite frankly some of the most awesome people ever to walk this earth!). She was born during the Second World War. Jim had been sent abroad to fight while Rosie was pregnant, and sadly couldnt return to see his first child until she was 2.5 years old. Here they are not long after Jim got home- a family united :-)

Over the following years Joys brother and sister were born, and she grew up in a relatively normal and happy household (relatively normal sounds wrong.....who defines whats normal....but you know what I mean. No major drama, life all good!)

She attended Walthamstow girls school before moving to Wokingham to do teacher training. All she had ever wanted to do was be a teacher, and she achieved that dream pretty early on. Penny, Joys sister, recalls

'I was constantly having to play schools with her, and she made me and all my dolls be the class while she was the teacher. She would always make us sing. Unfortunately the dolls in the class remained stubbornly silent....so it was just me ;-)'

'She helped prepare me for school and made me a special tea for when I got home from my first day. I remember she introduced me to independent reading and took me to Walthamstow library every Saturday to help me choose another book. She used to make up all sorts of games at home and played and read with me most evenings. When our parents were out and she was babysitting we used to cook or make sweets, mint creams I remember! I was devastated when she left home to go to college on my 9th birthday'

 

Excited to be bridesmaid for her aunt & uncles wedding

Joy with little sister Penny on the beach

Joy as a little girl

Joy on her 21st birthday

Candyfloss!!

Family

Joy and her dad Jim

Joy was a home bunny. She found college a nightmare to start with and was horribly homesick- although she ploughed on through and got her teaching qualification. She was very close to her family- her parents, brother, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Every summer the family went on holiday together, usually to Eastbourne, Margate or Broadstairs. Through her teenage years and into adulthood Joy always prioritised the family holiday and made sure she was there! After finishing college she moved home, much to everyones delight, getting home just in time to support Penny starting high school. She stayed living at home for the following 5 years, moving to her own flat in Walthastow when she was 26.

Jackie, Joys cousin remembers:

'My mum Elmer was the baby of the family and there was a big age gap between her and Joys mum, my Aunty Rose. This meant there was also a big age gap between me and my cousins on mums side of the family, and Joy was 21 when I was born. I was about 3 when me and my sister went to stay with Auntie Rose, Uncle Jim and my cousins because mum was unwell with a bad bout of flu. I can remember sharing a bed with my sister and during one night I got out of the bed, which was higher than me, and went wandering round the house. When I got back to the bed it was too high for me to climb back into! The house was scary at night and I recall sitting at the top of the stairs feeling cold (in the days before central heating!) and crying (probably because I wasn't sure if I would be in trouble for getting out of bed!). Joy must have heard me and came to sit next to me, talked to me for a bit and soon cheered me up and got me laughing, before lifting me back up into the bed and staying until I was settled and OK.

It seems strange to remember something so ordinary in that much detail but for a young child away from home and from her mum, that simple act of kindness from my grown up cousin meant I felt safe and secure again.'

When her siblings had children she absolutely doted on them. She would always visit with activities she had made herself. We have so many memories of her coming to all our birthday parties and teaching our buddies new games and songs.  She literally was just the life and soul of the family.

For my grandparents, she was just their 'Joy', and again was just so so central to their lives. She stayed with them regularly and was a best friend aswell as a daughter.

Joy with her niece Jo

Joy with her niece Helen

Joy: Teacher, Musician, Writer

Joy was passionate about teaching young children, and throughout her career taught at Thorpe Hall, Woodside and St Marys primary schools in Walthamstow. Her second passion was her love of music, and she combined these passions by teaching the children to appreciate and make music themselves. She was soon made Head of Music, a role she took on with great enthusiasm. She put on concerts at the end of term, and her fledgling recorder groups, percussion groups and choir (accompanied by Joy on the piano) became very enthusiastic too!! (as you can imagine....lots of 4-5 year olds with lots of noisy instruments!!)

Joy was an accomplished pianist (as is my mum. This is a skill that has very sadly missed a generation....as I appear to be tone deaf with no musical abilities!) and used this ability to introduce some of the children to playing the piano. She also played guitar, and had another little group of songsters who would sing along in a 'folk group'. Story time at the end of the day (the story very often being one of her 'originals') usually ended with a song relating to the story sung along to her guitar.

Joy was also very arty. She made games and pictures to aid her teaching and encourage the children to express themselves through drawing, painting and different craft activities. She would spend a lot of her free time preparing these activities, and never underestimated the amazing opportunity and responsibility she felt to share her own experience of music and the arts with her little 'charges'.

Penny remembers;

'I was priviledged to attend some of Joys classes concerts, which were quite honestly brilliant! My parents also attended and took great pride in Joy and even more so in the little ones she had taught to have the confidence to stand up on stage and sing or play an instrument.

Joy was a wonderful teacher. One of my own school friends got in touch with me again many years later when she realised that her own little boy was in Joys class. She was clearly delighted about having Joy as a teacher.

When I got married in 1975 Joy was my bridesmaid. I got married at the church local to the school Joy taught in. Loads of the children came to the service.....not to see me...but to see their favourite teacher be a bridesmaid! She was just a wonderful popular teacher and had a great rapport with the children.'

As if she wasnt busy enough, Joy also wrote childrens stories. The family often tried to persuade her to have these published, but in her usual self effacing way she just said she preferred to use the stories for school and family purposes, never wanting fame or recognition for her efforts.

and then...

Joy on her last (52nd) birthday

Joy struggled with her health over a few years, and retired from teaching aged 46 on health grounds.

The last 2 years of her life Joy was happy and healthy. She had beaten her illness demons and enjoyed life to the full. She never went back to teaching (who could blame her) and gave all her time to her family and voluntary work with homeless charities and her church.

'Her eventual health was such a comfort to our parents and myself. She was a star, and she was my sister.....'

Joy with her lovely parents, Rosie and Jim, on a picnic not long before she died

Remembering Joy

Brave Jim and Penny, 10 days after Joys murder

words by Jackie:

'Not long before she died I met up with Joy at an Aunts funeral. She was full of fun and smiles as always despite the sombre occasion, and just as mischievous – she was asking why I didn’t bring my two boys (aged 1 & 3) to the funeral as they would have lightened the mood!!

I am sad that my boys didn’t get to meet Joy, they have grown up with her photograph always being around, and have over the years heard me talk about her often.' 
 

words by Penny:

'The last time I saw her was Easter Saturday 1995. We had gone to visit her in her flat and she had all sorts of messy easter activities for the girls. I remember watching her sitting on the floor with the girls that day and thinking how lucky we all were to have her. Now there is such a poignancy, even comfort, in the memory of that moment. The knowledge that I was blessed to have her while I still DID have her. The girls saw her one more time in August that year, but I was not there as I was doing the final studying for a further degree.

She died 10 days before my graduation ceremony. Clearly I wasnt interested in going to dress in a silly gown when my one and only sister had just suffered the indescribable horrors of what had happened. And yet, it was my devastated dad who took me aside in his grief and persuaded me that as Joy had been such a great support throughout my studies, she wouldn't want us not to go.  And so we went, and I'm sure she was part of that day, how else would we have had the strength to do that!

Watching the anguish of my elderly parents for 15 years as they hoped and longed for some justice were without doubt the hardest years of my life. They were so very brave, they accepted the loss and yet longed for some closure in seeing her killer caught. I actually believe they are all together again now (know that won't be everyone's belief system of course) but I will never be satisfied with what was done in the aftermath of her death, and will always have my own thoughts/ideas.

Beautiful Joy was failed, and so were her beautiful parents. However this case will NEVER be forgotten because there remains too much love for her and our parents in the devoted family that she left behind. We will NOT be silenced!

Joys lovely parents at their 70th wedding anniversary. They sadly passed away in Dec 2010 and Sept 2011, still not knowing why Joy had been murdered or who had murdered her. They were never bitter or angry, just terribly sad at the loss of their firstborn child and best friend. The final time I spoke to my Grandpa a few weeks before he died he was talking about Joy and at the end of the conversation said 'she just didn't deserve this, she was so lovely'. I couldn't agree more.