When Morecambe councillor Joyce gave our troops a cuddle

Here is the second part of our feature on Joyce Taylor who has retired after 39 years as a councillor on Lancaster City Council.

Sunday, 28th June 2015, 7:30 am
Picture by Julian Brown 15/06/15 Joyce Taylor, Morecambe's longest serving councillor, who has retired after 39 years, pictured at her Morecambe home.

When Joyce Taylor was mayor of Lancaster in 1993/4 she was affectionately known as ‘The People’s Mayor’.

This is because Joyce has a human touch when it comes to dealing with people from all walks of life.

A perfect example of this came when she was asked to visit British troops in Northern Ireland during her first tenure as mayor.

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“The town clerk said, ‘Do you want to go? The Troubles are on. Usually a man goes’.

“I said ‘If a man can go, I will go!’ I wanted to see the troops.”

So Joyce visited Ebrington Barracks in Londonderry, on St George’s Day, arriving in an armoured landrover.

As the soldiers lined up. Joyce went down the line and shook their hands, presenting each of them with a rose. She was extremely moved by the experience of seeing these young men, far from home, who were risking their lives for the country.

“It didn’t come easy to me,” she said.

“Afterwards I said to the sergeant major, I would rather have put my arms around them and give them a kiss and a cuddle. So from then on in Northern Ireland, everywhere I went, that’s what I did.

“At the end of the trip, the Colonel said he had a bone to pick with me. ‘You’ve got a reputation for going around giving my lads a kiss and cuddle,’ he said.

“I said ‘Well maybe you should do it too, then you might get somewhere with them!’

“He said ‘That’s not what I’m angry about, it’s that I haven’t had one!’”

Joyce’s first of two years as mayor of Lancaster was also the 800th anniversary of the city.

One of the highlights came when she presented Prince Charles with the Freedom of the city at the Ashton Hall.

“He was really nice. We were coming through Ashton Hall, there were trumpets playing, the beadle was in front of us, and Prince Charles walked quickly like me. We were talking about Lancaster. All of a sudden he put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me.

“He said ‘Oh Mr Mayor, we nearly walked into the beadle’s mace!’” Joyce also met Princess Alexandra, and the Queen when the Eric Morecambe statue was unveiled.

She also met Eric himself, saying he was “a lovely man”, and the American astronaut Charles Duke, one of the crew of Apollo 16 andthe youngest person to walk on the moon, when he visited Wilsons Endowed School at Over Kellet.

Joyce was mayor for the second time in 2003/4 and also deputy mayor for Tony Wade a few years later. She jokingly says that because she sometimes stood in for Tony, this means she was technically mayor three times!

As an independent councillor for Heysham Central from 1976 until she stepped down before this May’s elections, Joyce had no connection to any political party.

She voted how she wanted to vote and campaigned on a wide range of causes she believed in. As an animal lover, she battled to stop fairgrounds giving out goldfish as prizes and was instrumental in getting the council to stop allowing performing animals on its land.

She says her views on performing animals came from being deeply upset at the sight of a bear in a cage at Heysham Head when she was younger. Joyce also campaigned for Rocky the Dolphin to be freed from the former Marineland in Morecambe.

Children have also always been close to Joyce’s heart and she fought for a children’s ward at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, also campaigning for beds for family to stay overnight with them.

Some of the many charities she has raised money for have included Childline and the Derian House children’s hospice.

And one of her most successful campaigns came when, as chairman of Lancashire Against Nuclear Dumping, she successfully fought against a dry buffer store for nuclear waste being built at Heysham Power Station.

Joyce decided not to stand for the recent elections to spend more time with her family, although she says some of her constitutents are already begging her to come back!

They are already missing one of the most caring and compassionate councillors Morecambe has ever had.