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"Tireless in God’s work"

by Michael Ford last modified 30 Apr, 2021 11:51 PM

Anglicans in Weymouth are preparing to celebrate the life of a much-loved local church stalwart about to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Geoffrey Murray explains:

"Joan Cansdale has been tireless in God’s work for many decades, assuming many roles despite advancing age. In fact, she continued to attend Sunday morning services at St Mary’s church in the town centre right up to the first closure of the doors due to Covid-19 last year.

"Sadly, due to the continued restrictions, it will not be possible to have a full-blown family celebration on 4th May at Abbeyfield’s Legh House in Wyke Regis where she has been a resident since giving up her home in 2019.

"Joan came to Weymouth from Bath where she was employed for many years as the Administrator of Monkton Combe School, a leading independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 2 - 18 years, with a living Christian ethos.

"This deep interest in young people continued through the succeeding decades and there are many people of advancing years living in the seaside town who still say “Oh yes, I remember Joan very well!”

"Upon Joan’s retirement from the Bath school, she and her husband Kenneth moved to Sutton Poynmtz on the outskirts of Weymouth (she later moved to Rodwell and finally Greenhill on the beach). Widowed fairly soon, Joan eventually remarried, her husband John Cansdale being a widower with a family who was also a lay preacher at St Mary’s Church.

"In 1983, Joan and John helped establish the Lantern Trust, an independent registered charity still very active among vulnerable and marginalised people in the Weymouth & Portland area, helping them with their practical, emotional and personal issues. Well into her 90s, Joan continued working in the Lantern’s shop raising funds for the work.

"There was hardly a church activity in which she wasn’t involved throughout three decades. She was a member of the church council for a number of years, ran a Christian bookstall in the church, and also helped in supervising youth activities in St Mary’s until that role ceased with changes in town centre demographics creating a much older congregation.

"There is a great sense of thankfulness among the local congregation for her inspirational energy over the decades. One church member said: “Joan was always there with a smile and a kind word of encouragement that was greatly appreciated by all. She epitomises true Christian love and tireless service to the Lord.”

"She was also a very active member of the Preston Women’s Institute and continued to play tennis well into her 80s. She also continued to join local groups travelling abroad each year.

"At 100, Joan is blessed with an extended family of three children, seven grandchildren and 11 greatgrandchildren."

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