Joan Mary Welburn
Formally: Joan Mary Guise
Maiden name: Joan Mary Dibdin
L.R.A.M. A.R.C.M.
23rd January 1920  -  19th December 2008

The move to Cumbria

In the early 1970ís Joan starting looking for a new home in Cumberland. Her friend from the old days, Jean Irvine, who had lived in Chiswick, had moved to Newcastle some many years before and then across to a farmhouse in Featherstone near Haltwhistle. Joan had visited a number of times and found that she could relax with the people and realised that she would be able to live the idyllic country life up there.

In 1973 she bought a old farmhouse with nearly three acres of land on a south facing hill under Hadrians Wall. The situation was and is now beautiful and she was able to buy and move without the need to immediately sell the house in Chiswick. This, in fact, took two years to sell and was used by Douglas as his London Lodgings until 1975.

Douglas had seen the new house and agreed to move North as he was on the road most of the time and it was of little consequence as to where he ended up in England for the week ends. During his time in the North he seemed to settle to the life and was quick to get into the practicalities of working a smallholding. His ability to get on with people counterbalanced Joan nature to live fairly isolated.

Looking back at the years between moving and 1981 when Douglas died they seemed to have done and achieved a lot. Apart from the lorry, the main stay of Douglasís work, they seems to have acquired two Landrovers, a run around car for Joan, two BMWs for Douglas to get home from his Friday night stop in Shropshire, a Chevrolet flat back as well as a second three ton lorry for further haulage work enploying a local youngster. Joan had during that time the usual run of sheep, chickens, ducks and dogs as well as a donkey and a goat. She was supported very generously by two local Farmers who were very competent with livestock. She satisfied her wish to become self sufficient, at least in theoretical terms and seemed content to be living in a sort of Beatrix Potter world.

Within two years of moving she had organised extensive work to the house and extended it to nearly twice the size. The property included an attached barn and outbuildings which had been used as stables. There was also a Dutch barn containing straw bails which over the years got used up.

Joan had developed a vegetable plot and encouraged the growth of raspberries, currents and fruit trees.

All this smallholding work she managed on her own as well as doing the detailed accounts for the haulage business.

The Guise family visited a number of times during this period but the visits always created mixed emotions. Douglasís strange mood swings and violent tempers made times when he was there stressful although when in the right mood he was a delight for the children. Joanís strong nature sometimes caused difficulties which no doubt goes back to her traumatised childhood in which she rejected the advice of adults, sometimes with good reason, and yet deep down was conscious that "adults always knew best". From being a rebellious child, she developed into an adult that sometimes felt that her way should always prevail, at least on minor issues. Big practical issues could allways be discussed sensibly.

Douglasís death

At about the age of 60, Douglas was still running the transport business and was travelling from Cumbria to London and the Midlands each week. He used to often park up the lorry in Shropshire and drive back home in a fast BMW. In June 1981 he died crashing the lorry in Shropshire, tipping it over into a house and spreading tons of coffee powder all over the road. When Douglas died, the local people were concerned that Joan would want to move out however she immediately made it clear that she planned to stay on and run the show on her own. With help from neighbours and later on with much of the heavy outside work being done by Thomas, a local forester/gardener, Joan managed the smallholder confidently up until 2004 when she finally recognised the need to give up. She had considered moving in 1999/2000 but at that time found the pull of the country life to strong.