Obituary – Auriol Roberts
Joy Mitchell of Ravensdowne, Berwick died 23rd Dec. 2021. She was born Joy Peacock in the North East on 03 .03 .1933. She was brought up at Rowlands Gill She was a committed Christian and Socialist who became a lifelong campaigner for peace and against nuclear arms.
In 1989 she faced the tragedy of the sudden, early death of her husband, George. She despaired momentarily, then decided to continue their joint work for peace. St Aidan's Presbyterian Church became the Peace Church. There were regular services and coffee mornings on Tuesdays and Fridays, open to all. Sometimes she allowed a stranger, with no resources, to stay overnight. The Friday meeting evolved into a discussion group. It covered philosophical topics, from poetry to Islam to Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy." She invited speakers to the Church.
In her time in Berwick she attended demonstrations all over the country. In Berwick on every first Saturday of the month after the Iraq War there was a Peace Vigil at the foot of the Guild Hall steps. This lasted several years.
She was arrested at protests. She was especially concerned with the manufacture and transportation of nuclear warheads up the Al. She wanted to draw attention to the evils of this weaponry for all of us.
When arrested she was not always charged but sometimes imprisoned and fined, particularly for blocking the Naval base at Faslane. In Court she made the case, for all human beings, that nuclear weapons are against International Law. On the last occasion she was congratulated for her eloquence by the prosecuting Lawyer.
She expressed herself forcefully and controversially. She was fueled by her determination and commitment to say what she saw was right. Her witness for her truth was peaceful. Unfortunately, the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, at present in Parliament, threatens to outlaw the activity of peaceful protest. She used all her life to bring attention to social evils.
Early in life she worked with the Reverend (later Lord) Soper. From his pulpit and at Tower Hill and Hyde Park Corner he preached the need for social reforms and pacifism. What mattered to him about Christianity was Jesus' teaching of non-violence as a way of life. Joy learned public speaking from Lord Soper's example.
Joy first taught in London and then became Head teacher of a unit in Airdrie near Glasgow for children excluded from school.
She worked full-time as a minister's wife with all that it entailed. She struggled bravely after her beloved George's death.
She leaves behind two sons. Martin, a former councillor for Prior Park and now a councillor in Blackpool. Paul is an archaeologist living in Vienna, who helped to restore the history of Maidanek Concentration Camp.
Joy is sorely missed by all those who want to live in a world beyond war, whose people are equal and at peace. Fittingly, St Aidan's Arts Centre, a community organization, now runs the Peace Church.