On the morning of 22 February, family members and numerous friends of the highly esteemed, long-time BVI resident, Joyce May Westwood (1916-2020) gathered at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sea Cow’s Bay, Tortola for a memorial service officiated by The Rev. Sandra Walters Malone in remembrance of the late BVI benefactor.
Born in London in 1916, during the Great War, her mother was Caroline Hooper and her father Gilbert Murrant, a postmaster. Joyce was a brilliant student from day one and she ended her time at High School as Head Girl; a few years later, while attending courses in Paris, she met her future husband Neville Westwood, who was reading Modern Languages (and later Law) at King’s College. Neville had a colonial upbringing, with an Indian-born mother and was raised on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, and in the boarding schools of England. When World War II erupted Neville enlisted in the Army and eventually rose to the rank of Major. Joyce spent the war in London teaching by day and taking fire duty by night.
Neville and Joyce married in August 1941, while Neville was home on leave. After the birth of their daughter Vivian in 1947 Joyce returned to teaching and became an oral examiner in French and German for London University. In due course, Neville became Director of a sugar broking company in the City. The happy couple made a life-changing decision in 1967 when they set sail on their catamaran bound for a new life in the British Virgin Islands where Neville, a qualified barrister, began work with Harold Harney.
On her part, Joyce also joined the law firm in an administrative role. The move tested the couple’s mettle as they adjusted to the new home in a BVI where electricity was a luxury. At that time the BVI was taking the first significant steps to boost the local economy as well as venturing into tourism. Vivian met her future husband, Jim Morris while staying with her parents in Tortola: they married in 1969, giving Joyce and Neville two grand-children: Annalie and Joanna. Meanwhile, Joyce became involved with St. George’s Anglican Church serving on the Vestry for several terms. She taught singing at St. George’s Primary School and directed the choir at end-of-term productions; Joyce was in many ways a pioneer with lots of enthusiasm and a community-oriented calling. She became Director of the newly-born local airline Air BVI and was an active participant in the decisive progress made by the Territory in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Joyce and Neville retired in the 1980s and decided to secure an English base to retreat to during the hottest summer months; their search was successful as they found a riverside flat in Cambridge where they had spent many happy years in earlier times. After Neville’s death in 1994, Joyce continued to divide her time between the UK and BVI until 2015 when for health reasons she was unable to continue her transatlantic trips.
Joyce’s immediate family grew to include three great-grandchildren in the BVI, Josiah, Felicity, and Emma Mae and her son-in-law, Christopher. By extension, she acquired three step-grand-children, Victoria, Richard, and Pippa.
In a printed tribute by the multi-national law-firm Harneys, Tanya Cassie-Parker, Managing Partner, Harneys BVI, pointed out that “the history of Harneys is deeply entwined with the decision by Joyce and her late husband Neville to move to the Virgin Islands in the mid-1960s. Soon after Joyce and Neville arrived in the BVI, Mr. Harold Harney – an Antigua native and the only lawyer practicing full time in the BVI at the time – offered to take Neville into partnership thus creating the practice of Harney and Westwood. Upon Mr. Harney’s retirement, Neville went into partnership with Christopher Lloyd and later with Michael Riegels. Joyce Westwood was the manager of Harney Westwood & Lloyd (later Riegels) for some 16 years and consequently wore many hats.” Harneys has presently a staff of 650 people worldwide – a huge BVI success story of global significance.
The publishers, management and staff of The Island Sun wish to extend the most sincere condolences to the bereaved: Joyce Westwood will be sadly missed by many BV Islanders and residents.