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Hospital charity champion Joyce Long passes away

21 December 2015

Fundraising

Southend Hospital charity champ Joyce Long, who received an MBE for her services to charity in 2006, has died at the age of 86.

The great-grandmother of six passed away peacefully at her Park Road Thundersley home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The much-loved matriarch raised more than £1.5 million for Southend Hospital and a further £500,000 for London hospitals in an incredible fundraising career spanning more than 30 years.

The cash came via a series of 'pop up' charity shops and latterly through her famous garden sales, held three or four times a year.

Trust chairman Alan Tobias OBE said: "The name Joyce Long MBE is synonymous with fundraising here at Southend Hospital and we are deeply saddened by her the death.

"Joyce was an amazing ambassador for our hospital and we are forever in her debt for the time she devoted to championing the care of our patients and in helping to raise extraordinary sums of money for new equipment which have helped so many in our community over the years.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with Joyce's family at this very sad time."

Joyce's final gift to the hospital came via a raffle held by Thundersley Village traders this week which raised £316. The raffle came about after local businesses, hearing that she'd been poorly, decided to do something to show their support. The money will go to the cardiac care unit, where Joyce was treated for a heart condition for four weeks.

Supervisor Izzie Winfield, 46, manager of Grout's the Bakers, in Thundersley Village, who organised the raffle, said; "We are devastated. The village is in mourning. There is no-one like Joyce. She was an amazing woman."

Joyce started charity work by raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for an eye laser machine for Hammersmith Hospital, where her husband Percy, was being treated for diabetes.

"I used to go out pubs and clubs of a night with my collection tin," Joyce said shortly before her death. "Oh, there was plenty of banter, I can tell you. But I always did well."

The mother-of-one's skills were soon recognised by the late Ernie Lockhart, then a leading light in the civic and fundraising community in Southend, who encouraged her to fundraise locally.

Joyce supported all the major hospital appeals, including those to fund a CAT scanner and then an MRI machine in the 1990s. Fellow fundraiser Malachy O'Sullivan, MBE, said: "Joyce Long was a trail-blazer who did so much for the hospital. Her going will be a great loss to us all. She was an inspirational figure."

Joyce went on to support every single hospital appeal, along with donating equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to individual wards.

Small wonder that the hospital named a room after her at its new Education Centre opened in 2010. By then, Joyce had graduated from late-night collections to starting a series of pop-up shops in the Thundersley and Benfleet areas, with items donated by well-wishers.

Such was her reputation for giving that a close friend, inspired by Joyce's gift for giving, bequeathed the proceeds of the sale of a bungalow directly to the hospital charity.

Joyce also found the time to raise money for Great Ormond Street children's hospital, which treated a family member. But after suffering a small stroke seven years ago, daughter Angie Alden, 66, and son-in-law Ron persuaded her to scale down. So she held a seasonal garden sale three of four times a year, raising around £9,000-£12,000 a year, which still involved a massive amount of organisation and elbow grease.

"She was a brilliant mother, a brilliant grandmother and an amazing great-grandmother," says Angie. "She was a good wife - my dad was buried 22 years ago on the very day she died and she nursed him to the end.

"She was an amazing lady - always out in the garage sorting out stuff for her garden sales. She really was an inspiration to women."

Joyce is survived by Angie, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, aged from three to 23.