Joan Catterall, one of the founder members of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park in 1981, died on 24 February after a long illness. She was our very active Membership Secretary from the beginning until she stepped down in the spring of 2010. To many people Joan was the greatest Friend of Gunnersbury and she was adept at keeping in touch with what was going on in Park and Museum.
A lifelong Brentford resident, Joan had a part in everything the Friends did over her 29 years’ involvement. She ran many of the organisation’s early events (including summer fetes in the Park), usually with her daughter, Lucy, in tow. She worked with Marianne Booth on fund-raising bric á brac stalls until the growing number of charity shops reduced the amount of good material available to sell. Joan was also one of the Friends group that spent many weekends restoring the Victorian Kitchens in the large Mansion when they were no longer used as a base for painting boats and park benches on wet days. Joan and her husband, John, also toiled for many hours as volunteers on projects in the Park, including planting thousands of bulbs.
Joan served for many years as one of two Observers from the Friends on the Gunnersbury Park Joint Committee until it was wound up in April 2007. Because they lived on the edge of the Park, Joan and John often found themselves on the receiving end of people’s complaints about the management of the Park. Opponents of the Mela, and more recently of the restoration proposals, caused her some stress.
On her retirement Joan studied for a fine art degree. She was delighted when she and John both obtained part-time posts as stewards in the Museum; they were there faithfully on many weekends and Bank Holidays. She offered visitors a warm welcome in her own very personal style.
Joan worked tirelessly for her Brentford community. She chaired the board of the Brentford Community Resource Centre, was governor of Lionel Road School, served as a co-opted member of Hounslow Council’s Isleworth and Brentford Area Committee and was associated with many other local organisations.
Her funeral at Mortlake Crematorium on Thursday 10 March was attended by a crowd of Joan’s friends and colleagues from the local authority and a number of organisatgions, who returned to the Small Mansion Terrace Room at Gunnersbury Park afterwards to reminisce and to celebrate her achievements.