Ex Brierfield teacher Joan (67) dies
Her family say they have been overwhelmed with the number of tributes received and the hundreds of pounds donated to her chosen charities; Pendleside Hospice, Rosemere Cancer Foundation at Preston Royal Hospital and Donna’s Dream House in Blackpool.
Mrs Willan was born in Wilton Street, Brierfield, in 1944 and was the daughter of Leonard and Renee Burrows.
The family moved to Castle Street after the Second World War and she was raised there with her brother Jimmy, attending Holy Trinity RC Primary School and then Paddock House, Oswaldtwistle, before training at Endsleigh Teacher Training College, Hull.
She began teaching at her former school, Holy Trinity, in 1966 and taught there on a permanent basis for 32 years before retiring in 1998. She would return to the school again to help out with supply work and at St John Southworth RC Primary School, Nelson. Outside work, Mrs Willan enjoyed travelling and also enjoyed trips to the theatre. The last song played at her funeral was the soundtrack to her favourite musical “Singing in the Rain.”
In 2009, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given 11 months to live. She sold her home in Bank Street and moved into O’Hagan Court and then Ashiana Lodge, Nelson.
Three weeks before her death, Mrs Willan moved into Andrew Smith House, Nelson, and she had only two wishes near the end; to receive the sacrament of the sick and to see Christmas day.
Both wishes were granted and she died peacefully on Christmas Day evening with her daughters Carole and Jane by her side.
Carole said: “She fought the battle with courage and dignity and faced everything with a smile on her face and a song in her heart which allowed her to amaze the medical profession and survive 32 months. She was a lady of integrity and great strength and will be sadly missed by many people.”