Joyce Mullins 1929 – 2015

Joyce Mullins 1929 – 2015

The article below is the one read at the funeral service for my Mother Joyce Mullins (nee Crabb) who passed away 24th September 2015 and was buried in Sydling St Nicholas on the 8th October 2015

Tribute to Joyce Mullins
read by Mary Davys

Joyce Mullins nee Crabb

Joyce would always greet people with a beaming smile and a twinkle in her blue eyes.  She loved company, and with that in mind, Alan and the girls would like to thank you all for coming to celebrate her life.  The many cards and wishes they have received have been a comfort and are a tribute to this well-loved woman.

We all know Joyce in different ways and have our own special memories.  Here are a few you may not know.

Joyce Crabb was born on 5th May 1929 in South View Farm house, next door to the Greyhound, here in Sydling.  She was the youngest daughter of James and Nellie Crabb and had one sibling, her sister Irene.

Her father James was a farmer and carrier, renting South View Farm from Winchester College and running the regular bus service from Sydling to Dorchester.

Joyce grew up in the village, attending the local school and she passed her eleven plus to attend the Girls Grammar school in Dorchester, known locally as the “Green School” after the uniform colour. This left her with a lifelong aversion to green clothes.  Getting to school each day involved cycling the three and a half miles from the village down to Grimstone to catch the Dorchester train, followed by a mile walk from Dorchester station.  Many adventures and misadventures occurred during this time.  On one occasion she and her best friend May Gifford, walked along the narrow ledge on the outside of the Grimstone viaduct, probably 30 feet above the road, just because they didn’t want to be out done by the local boys.

Joyce enjoyed school and worked hard, gaining the qualifications needed to go to Teacher training college. She headed off to Brighton with her trunk on the train from Dorchester.  Brighton was very different to Sydling, but she always loved the sea and the opportunity to spend time there was very special.  Joyce was always good fun and made many firm friends who kept in contact with her over the years.  Adventures continued, including being in London on VJ day, which was apparently a “Wild Night”.

Returning to Sydling, a qualified teacher, Joyce got a position in the village school, which she had attended not so many years before. 

While cycling back to Sydling one evening from Grimstone, it was suggested she hang onto the hand of a passenger on Jack Bungay’s motorcycle.  This resulted in lots of bruises and cuts and a finger which was permanently bent.  She went to school the next day wrapped up in a large number of bandages, much to the amusement of her pupils

Joyce’s father James died in 1951, but they kept the farm on, with Nellie, Rene and Joyce working it. Joyce would milk the cows in the morning, before heading off for a full days teaching.  Her salary helped to cover the rent on the farm.

In 1952, she started going out with a younger man, Alan, who lived up at Marrs Cross.  They first met when he knocked on the door job hunting a few years before.  For much of their courtship Alan was in the army, but they went to the “old time” dances and Young Farmers events whenever he was on leave.

Finally in 1955 with Alan out of the army, they married here in Sydling Church on the May 30th. Joyce carrying a bouquet containing roses and the Lily of the valley she adored.

The papers reports of the marriage included headlines, such as “School Teacher weds”, Boys club leader weds, WI Secretary weds.  Joyce always epitomised the saying “need something done, ask a busy person”. Poor Alan did not get many mentions in the papers, and even the wedding cars forgot to collect him, having both raced to pick up Joyce.

After a honeymoon in Torquay, Alan and Joyce started married life, living in some of the rooms in South View.  A couple of years later however Winchester college became keen to release the farm to new tenants, so the Mullins’s and Crabbs were grudgingly offered another house, a former pub.  “Hit or Miss”, so called as sometime the local Hunt stopped there and sometimes they didn’t, was in a state and lifting floorboards created wafts of stale beer to float up into the air.

When Nellie died in February of 1962 it was time to move on.  Towards the end of the year Joyce was offered a post in Ilminster, so the search was on to find a house they could afford which would suit Alan, Joyce and Rene and provide growing space for any new arrivals plus the dog, two cats and 70 chicken, some things don’t change.  They finally settled on an Edwardian villa in need of significant work, which became Joyce and Alan’s home for fifty two years, Glenwood House.

In 1970 I joined the staff of Ilminster first school.  Joyce was deputy head there; she was a great support to me and to the other staff.  She was responsible for the reception class and they adored her. She was a brilliant teacher, although I only taught with Joyce for less than one year we always remained friends. That was Joyce, once you knew her you made a friend for life.

Sadly Joyce and Alan lost a baby boy in 1959 but Jane arrived in 1964 and Jeannette in 1970.  Joyce always made sure the girls had everything they needed, while ensuring they did not get everything they wanted.  So for example no Pony for Jane, but weekly riding lessons instead. 

Glenwood was always busy, there were few weekends which did not either have someone coming or the family would be out visiting.  People coming to Glenwood knew there would be plenty of food and a warm welcome to all, one young boy describing the food to his Grandmother said “Aunty Joyce’s table groaned.  The home-made scotch eggs were delicious and lime cream whip, Somerset apple cake and baked Alaska were specialities.

Then of course there were the parties.  Parties could be held for many reasons and one of the infamous ones was the garage warming party.  Much merriment was had and it was discovered it was very difficult to play Table Tennis with a stone.  Many guests leaving in the small hours, also discovered that partying on the edge of the Somerset levels means if the floods are up it can be difficult to get home.  

After many happy years teaching in Ilminster, Joyce was appointed head at Kingsbury Primary school.  She made many friends both on the Staff and among the parents.  Headship in those days was an almost full time teaching job, with only one afternoon a week for administration.  This was not enough and each evening Joyce would sit with one basket of Children’s work to mark and another of “paperwork” to process.  Despite that she always made time to read a story to Jane and Jeannette at bedtime, even once they were both quite capable of reading to themselves.

Summer holidays were full of activities, the girls going to Guide camp or the family heading off to Cornwall, North Wales or somewhere else. Joyce even came to Switzerland with the guides, and Jane remembers her trying to encourage very sleepy guides, who had been on the bus for 36 hours, to walk up the hill to the Chalet.

The years passed by and when Jane married Stephen in 1986, Joyce and Alan gained their first son-in-law.  Jane often laughs that they really adopted Stephen as a son.

Joyce retired in ‘91 just as Jeannette finished University.  Not one to sit around, she re-joined the WI, volunteered at the Playgroup and helped found the Parrett Talk.  This village magazine proved popular and she remained on the committee until very recently, chasing down sponsors and helping with proof reading.  She joined patchwork and crafting clubs, planning her new social life with the same precision she had used to plan lessons over the previous forty years, though she never did finish the macramé lampshade in the loft. One of Joyce’s useful phrases was “Can you put that in the Loft?”, normally uttered when visitors where expected. 

When Jeannette married Nick in 1999 they gained another much loved son-in-law.  In 2005, Joyce got her best present ever when Jeannette and Nick presented her with her twin grandsons, Harry and Jacob. Joyce would say “such good boys”, “such wonderful boys”.  She loved listening to them read and seeing what they achieved. 

Over the years her physical health declined with arthritis of the spine and other problems making it difficult for her to get around, but she battled on, determined never to miss out on anything interesting. “Do you want to go to… ?” Was almost always followed by “Yes please”.

Joyce enjoyed visiting new places. So in 2011, Jane, Stephen, Alan and Joyce, at the age of 82, all set off on a cruise to Ireland.  It turned out to be the first of many.  Stephen and Alan became masters at manoeuvring her wheelchair around ships … though her grandsons never passed up the chance to give Grandma a hair raising ride.

Joyce was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend.  She is missed.

Mum Order of Service.pdf

Family Historian – Software for the Geneologist

Family Historian – Software for the Geneologist

Picking a computer program to record your Family History is like buying a car, there are a myriad of choices and everyone you ask will have their own favourite,  mine is Family Historian.

Originally released in 2004, over the last fourteen years it has grown into a powerful, flexible system.  Key features include the ability to record full details of your research, including comprehensive source recording and unrivalled media handling.

It also has an active and extremely knowledgeable user group web site with a raft of helpful documents and a forum where you can ask questions about anything Family Historian related. 

Getting Started

For most people starting out with Family Historian,  you will either be importing from an existing program or web site,  or keying your information direct into Family Historian,  from miscellaneous paper sources.

Family Historian has direct imports from both Roots Magic and The Master Genealogist, along with a gedcom import which understands a variety of "dialects" used by programs like Family Tree Maker and many others.  

The user group has instructions for import from many different programs in their knowledge base. Which contain the "condensed" knowledge of group members who have converted to Family Historian.


To import you simply click on the New button on the Project Window (which opens when you start the program) and then select what you want to import.

If you are starting from scratch,  just select "Start a New Project" and on the next screen enter the Name of the Person who will be the start of your tree.  If you are importing from TMG,  select "Import from other Family Tree File" and then use the Browse button to find your TMG Proj file,  although FH will import from older versions of TMG, it works best when importing from V9.

Family Historian also provides a handy "Sample" project which you can easily use to experiment with the options.  It's also used extensively in the highly regarded optional guide "Getting the most from Family Historian 6" which is available from Amazon.

The Focus Window

Once you have a Project open you will arrive on the Focus window.   One of several windows which you can work with your information.   In the default configuration the Property Box,  which is used for all information entry,  is shown on the right. but you can "float" it and move it around or to another screen if you have the luxury of more than one screen on your computer.

The four tabs on the Focus window allow you to see different views of the currently selected person, so you can see them with their spouse and children or their parents and siblings.   As you can see there are little magnifying glasses next to each person to move the Focus to that person,   you can also click on any name to move the Property box to that person, with out moving the Focus window.

The Records List

The other window where you will probably spend time is the Records window,  this allows you to see and filter all the people,families,sources or media records.  For people you can enter just a surname or just a first name and it will show all the records which match.   The property box can then be used the edit the information or you can drill down using the + boxes next to the names.  This is also a good place to select two records to merge.  You can click on any column heading to sort by that column or hold down the ALT key and click  to sort in the reverse order, e.g Sort Z-A rather than A-Z.  The columns can easily be customised to add any data you need.

Hint:  When you install the program to go the Options button and tick the husbands surnames so you can easily search for Women using their married names.

The Property Box

The property box is where most information is entered and updated.  it has a main tab which gives you a quick overview of a person and their immediate family as well as tabs for media and facts.

  For entering any facts, the Fact tab is recommend as it shows all the fields available for entry making it easier to add information correctly.   Witnesses, notes and sources can also be entered and additional facts can be viewed in the "time line" from other members of the family.

The Media Window

One of the most powerful areas of Family Historian is it's Media window,  you can add any sort of media from images to sound or video files, and media can be added in a variety of locations including against Facts, Places, Sources or Source Citations.   You can also add a single image with multiple people in the image and easily highlight each face in the image and attach it to am individual.  In the image below all 5 people in the image have been identified.  You can also add notes to areas of the image,  for example to name a pet or put details against a vehicle and there is a handy multimedia report which can show all the details about the people in the image,  very handy to store with any original images you have,  and more useful than writing "Great Aunt Mabel's wedding" on the back.


Maps, Queries, Reports, Plugins etc

There is so much more to Family Historian that this article could go on forever,  in fact the "Getting the Most" book is 243 pages and even that does not cover every single thing you can do with Family Historian.

Luckily Calico Pie, who write Family Historian,  offer a free 30 day trial, and you don't even need to enter a credit card to get it.  Just download the program from and install it.   Don't worry if you have tried it before, just email the support desk and they will send you a trial extension. 

Handy Links & Resources

Family Historian Site

The Family Historian User Group

Getting The Most From Family Historian (book)