Joan Hayes (nee Eustace) – 5s, 4s 44-50

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Submitted by Tim Clark

As Joan Eustace, she attended CH Hertford from 1944 to 1950 and was in Wards 5 and 4.

She is survived by 3 sons, Timothy, Andrew and Brendan (the first two both also went to CH) and 4 Grandchildren, Christopher, Georgia, Logan and Eden.

Joan arrived at Hertford in the last year of the 2nd World War just over 75 years ago and was, I know, overjoyed by the original VE Day celebrations a few months later in May 1945. Her favoured activities at school were sporting and choral. She was in the first teams for Netball, Hockey, Cricket and was the school champion at Tennis through most of her senior years. She retained a lifelong love of choral music and opera. In the early 1950s she joined the Old Blues Amateur Operatic Society and took part in a number of their performances of Gilbert & Sullivan at the Guildhall of Music under the direction of Gordon Van Praagh.


In the closing months of 1962 she featured on the front pages of newspapers and magazines in the UK and around the world as her husband Dr. Ian Clark was the recipient of one of the very early kidney transplants. The human interest element of the story around the pioneering operation was enhanced by the fact that, uniquely, there was a non-familiar donor, ‘Hero Doctor’ Ian Spencer, a locum GP who had stepped in to look after Ian’s patients. Although the operation was initially a success, and Ian was able to return home briefly, this was before the introduction of immuno-suppressant drugs, the kidney suffered rejection and, on Christmas Eve, Joan was widowed with two young children at the age of 29.

She married a second time in 1968 to Brendan (Ben) Hayes and in 1980 moved with him and their youngest son Brendan to Northern Ireland, where Ben took up a job as general manager for a firm of bookmakers. They lived in a pleasant leafy area of Downpatrick, a town with a roughly 50-50 mix of protestant and catholic inhabitants which, on the surface at least, was a fairly peaceful area in the midst of those troubled times.

She had several lifelong friendships with girls from her time at Hertford, one of whom recently requested input for an article to be written by journalist for an American publication, who happened to be great-niece of her friend Margery. The subject matter was their group’s friendship of over 70 years. It should be noted that Joan was great fun and always up for a laugh (as were her friends) – here is her contribution:

Oh, where to begin….

So many memories come flooding back…..just mentioning the following …. Always, always lots of laughter……Margery jumping in the taxi in Paris telling the bemused driver “nous sommes les groovy grannies”, the Margery “Pavlova” incident in the art gallery in Amsterdam/ Paris? and having to do the limbo under the barrier on the platform in Paris because our tickets didn’t operate it and Betty not managing very well.

But I would like to mention the wonderful support you gave me back in the late 80s.

“I was living, not very happily with my husband in N. Ireland at the time of “The Troubles”.

There was lots of cash involved in his job and when he refused to pay protection money to the paramilitaries we received lots of threats from them ultimately saying that they would kidnap me and ask for a ransom. The police advised me to get back to England. I stayed with my sister in Cambridge. During this time Ruth, Betty and I went to stay a few days with Margery in Valley View……a yearly event we enjoyed so much. I was in a pretty awful state and spent the whole time pouring it all out to the girls, telling them the sort of things that I couldn’t burden my family with and the girls were so wonderfully supportive and helped me so much. I will remember and value that for ever.

in 1995 she separated from Ben and returned to England eventually settling in Mortimer, Berkshire. During this time she re-established a close relationship with Alan Leach (Senior Grecian 1946-47), spending many happy times with him until he passed away in 2003. Amongst her many activities, she became a Verger for the church in Mortimer and worked part-time in the church office until she was in her 80s.

Two years ago she moved to Tenterden where she took a full part in community life until illness overtook her towards the end of 2019. In January she moved into Staplehurst Manor Care home, where the marvellous staff looked after her with great care and respect for two months until she passed away comfortably in her sleep.

(Joan sits middle front)