Joan Spain Celebrates Her 100th Birthday

On 18 April, Joan Spain celebrated her 100th birthday, not in the usual way with a party for friends and family but quietly at home with roast chicken, cooked by her daughter Angela. Instead of stopping by to visit with their congratulations, the family wished her a Happy Birthday via Zoom.

Joan Spain (née Allen) was born in the room over her grandparents’ shop at 40 Fleckney Road, Kibworth Beauchamp on 18 April 1920, a snowy day. According to her family, she weighed only 21⁄2 pounds. Her parents were the first occupants of 18 New Road, one of the council houses built partly for service men returning from the Gt War.

She went first to the infants’ school on Paget Street with its separate girls’ and boys’ playgrounds and toilets across the yard. At around 41⁄2 she had scarlet fever and spent 3 months in the fever hospital at Blaby. Her family could only look at her through the windows when they visited her but they did manage to smuggle in chocolate.

Next she moved up to the National School in Station Street. Although she passed the 11-plus exam she was unable to get a place at Kibworth Grammar School so stayed on at Junior School until she was 14 when she began work. She became an apprentice to a hosiery firm, travelling by steam train to Leicester, and earning 12 shillings for a 48 hour week. During the war, she worked for Slaters making barrage balloons and later in the Billeting Office and Ration Issuing at Market Harborough. After the war, she worked in a hatchery office and at a Fencing and Pallet company, being by then a qualified book-keeper.

She met her first husband John Lyon at a Saturday night dance. Sadly he died shortly after they were married of an illness contracted while a Prisoner of War in Germany. Later, at a village dance, she met Richard Spain, who came from Dovercourt near Harwich, but was then working at Illston-on-the-Hill. They were married in 1956 and settled down together on Harborough Road, Kibworth where Joan still lives today. Their daughter Angela runs Kibworth Garden Centre, having taken it over from her parents some years ago.

Four female parish councillors sit in a line.
Pioneering Parish Councillors Sheila Lesley-Miller, Barbara Freestone, Joan Spain and Beryl Tory

Joan has always been active in village life. She was the first female Parish Councillor for Kibworth Harcourt, leader of the Welcome Club, a member of the Village Hall Committee, Clerk to the Burial Committee, an active WI member, involved with the Red Cross and WRVS, catered for prisoners at Gartree, and organised the Gardening Club and Village Show. In addition to all this she found time to run a house, knit, crochet, and grow wonderful flowers and vegetables!