BRINGING one of the top names in showbusiness to perform in Ludlow is just one way that Joyce Brand, who has died, aged 86, demonstrated her enthusiasm for her adopted town.

It was in 2013 when the new Ludlow Fringe was struggling to get established that Mrs Brand got her comedienne daughter Jo to come to Ludlow to take part in an event at the library.

Best known as a stand-up comedienne, Jo adopted a sitting down role for an appearance at Ludlow Library to talk about her work as an author.

On her visit Jo Brand talked about her writing that included a novel, work that draws on her experience of psychiatric nursing and an autobiography ‘Look Back in Hunger’ published in 2009.

The visit was part of an initiative by Ludlow Library and the Friends of the Library, of which Joyce Brand was a member.

It was just one of the many local activities that Mrs Brand, who died in Hereford County Hospital, got involved with although she was most active as a health campaigner.

Mrs Brand had been in hospital for several weeks and also it is understood she had Covid-19.

Because of the restrictions she was only able to be in touch with her family virtually.

It was family visits as a girl that started Joyce Brand’s love affair with Ludlow.

For three years she was a columnist with the Advertiser and very much remained until her death a vigorous campaigner for the NHS and causes on the political left.

In 2019 she spoke to ‘the Advertiser’ about her life.

Mrs Brand was born and raised in Brixton, in south London, a relatively poor area of the capital.

Her stepmother’s family lived in Wigmore and it was this that first brought her to the area where she moved permanently in the 1980’s.

It was a single incident that she recalled as a spur for her passion for the NHS and commitment to socialism.

“A neighbour of my stepmother had a nine-year-old boy who was unwell but the family did not think they had the money to take him to the doctor,” said Mrs Brand, explaining that this was before the NHS was launched in 1948.

“He died but had he had free access to a doctor in time may not have done. That had a huge impact upon me.”

Her socialism was also driven by reading the novel ‘Fame is the Spur’ by Howard Spring based upon the rise of the British Socialist movement in the 1930’s.

“It was not a family thing because my father was a Tory,” said Mrs Brand.

“My stepmother, who was a Methodist, is probably the person that had the biggest impact upon my life.”

A bright girl, she earned a place at Oxford University to study English “I turned it down because I fell in love,” she added.

“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but I don’t think my father ever forgave me.”

She married young and had three children, sons William and Matthew, who sadly died of cancer four years ago and the middle child was Jo, a daughter.

“I stayed at home and brought up the children,” she added.

“For women like me at the time it did not feel like a deprivation. I still believe that having a significant adult around and accessible is vital for a child’s development.

“It does not have to be mum and can be dad or a grandparent but having someone is crucial.”

So, she was in her 30s when she set out on a career and qualified as a social worker in London, where the family was living.

Mrs Brand threw herself into a career that saw rapid promotion. But it came at a cost because she believes it was the cause of her divorce after 24 years.

A committed socialist, she remembered seeing the post war Labour prime Minister Clement Atlee speak.

“It was the Government that launched the NHS and was surely the best in my lifetime,” she added.