Joan Sutton and Other Family

Joan had returned to St Helens for Norman’s funeral and chose to stay with her family at 57 Higher Parr Street afterwards. She retained her married name and seemingly remained in St Helens for the next decade.

At some point she met John McVeigh, a factory manager from Liverpool, whose business took him to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in West Africa. In all probability it was an easy decision to leave an austere, war damaged St Helens for the exotic sounding Gold Coast. Joan married John, a widower himself, at the Church of St Luke in Accra on 23 August 1950. Their residence at this time was the Lisbon Hotel.

Joan and John returned to England regularly, travelling first class, particularly if there had been a death in the family, staying at the family home, 64 Bickerstaffe Street in St Helens.

In 1952 John changed job, taking up a post as a United Nations Organisation Food and Agriculture Organisation Forestry Officer and they went to live in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

They continued to visit England without ever having any intention of returning on a permanent basis. The fact that Joan had renewed her passport in Gold Coast and Colombo confirms that. They stayed at Bickerstaffe Street until the late 1950s when they stayed with John’s brother Anthony, an estate agent with a business in Penny Lane Liverpool, at 12 Ingledene Road, Calderstones, Liverpool and with Joan’s friend Fanny Gilbert at 11 Rolleston Drive, New Brighton.

They finally returned to England permanently sometime in 1973 and settled in Flat 3, 15 Lord Street West, Southport. Joan, of course, had happy memories of Southport, having honeymooned there with Norman 33 years earlier. She passed at her home on 18 November 1975 and was cremated at Southport Crematorium on 24 November. The service was attended by cousins and the doctors for whom her father had worked as a chauffeur in the 1950s. Her ashes were scattered within the grounds of the cemetery in an area called the Silver Birch Glade and her name was recorded in the Book of Remembrance.

The short report of her funeral in The Southport Visiter asks for donations to be made to cancer research, so it’s a reasonable assumption that cancer was the cause of death.

John McVeigh married Doris Murray in Southport in 1980 but passed in 1982. His death was announced in The Times of London and he was described as a retired Forestry Officer. Like Joan he was cremated at Southport Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in Section A.

Other Family

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has additional information to Norman’s entry saying, “Son of Oliver and Florence Sutton; husband of Joan Sutton, of St. Helens.” My research has discovered that Florence was his step mother. Dora Smith Sutton (nee Hartley) was his mother. That Norman was close to her is reinforced by the fact his name was etched onto her headstone.

Over the ensuing decade members of Joan’s family were interred alongside Norman.  Commemorated on the headstone are Martha Hankinson, Isaac Hankinson and Esther Brown. Isaac was Joan’s father whilst Martha and Esther were her Aunts.

Norman’s father, Oliver, died on 21 April 1964 and was cremated three days later. His ashes were scattered in section 1 of the Garden of Remembrance in St Helens Cemetery. Norman’s grave is on a slight rise and serendipitously is in direct line with his father’s resting place.

His step mother lived until 1979 when she passed in Wales. His brother Gerald died in a car crash in July 1964.

His sister Irene married an RAF Officer in 1944 and, continuing the families association with the air force, their eldest son served 9 years and a granddaughter also signed up, serving at RAF Innsworth in the late 1980s. Irene passed in 2000.

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