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A visit with the girls!

Joye Evans, 88, didn’t know that her life would change dramatically when she opened her door early one morning in 1972.

“After I had made sure the two ladies weren’t selling anything, I invited them in for tea,” Joye grins.

The two women were trying to recruit volunteers for the New Zealand Girl Guides.

“At the time, I was a social butterfly in Palmerston North,” Joye laughs.

“But I decided to volunteer anyway and it changed my life.”

Born and bred in Palmerston North, Joye initially wanted to become a doctor but at the time servicemen returning from the war were given priority acceptance.

“In 1946, the servicemen were returning and got priority for medical training, we had to get 95% to get be accepted. Instead I became a radiographer.”

In 1952, Joye decided to travel to England because she had ‘itchy feet.’

“We had to book the boat 15 months in advance, and even then, we didn’t get the cheap cabins!

“We ended up getting single cabins on the boat deck, which turned out to be the best ones as everyone had their parties in our cabins!”

Joye loved the four weeks on board the ship, which sailed through the Panama Canal, and she made many friends during that time.

On arriving in England, she presented her letter of introduction to the High Commissioner of New Zealand.

“I must have said the right things because I got invited to various events.”

One of these events, was at the St James Palace, where she had the opportunity to view Queen Elizabeth’s coronation dress. Joye not only saw the dress but was lucky enough to see the event in person.

“The King died at the right time so we got to see the coronation!”

After two years at ‘home’ she returned to New Zealand.

“I decided I have seen the old world and now I wanted to see the new!”

Joye wrote to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States and was accepted to work there as a radiographer.

In her second year there, Joye was approached by a radiologist to be part of a research team.

“We developed the first coronary angiogram in 1960. There was no heart surgery in New Zealand at the time, so it was an amazing experience.”

Joye married her husband David Evans in 1964 and decided that she had done “enough work for now” and wanted to “play bridge and golf and be a social butterfly.”

However, in 1972, during her flitting butterfly period, the Girl Guides came calling. Joye was drawn heart and soul into the organisation, eventually becoming the district commissioner and finally the chief commissioner.

“I disgraced myself in my first meeting as they kept talking about BP this and BP that. And I piped up and said why are we involved in BP petrol?

“They looked absolutely shocked and said that they were discussing the founder Lord Baden-Powell,” Joye laughs.

Joye was challenged to take over the Manawatu region, to establish Brownie branches in five different areas in the region.

“I was taken aback, but then I thought, blow you, I’ll try!”

Joye was successful in setting up the groups and was hooked on what they were doing for the girls in New Zealand.

“I put my heart and soul into it.”

During her time with the Girl Guides, Joye travelled the world, meeting the representatives from other countries and even the Queen, whom she met five times.

Joye’s passion and dedication was rewarded in 1988 when she was presented with an OBE for services to the Girl Guide movement.

She loved her time working for the Girl Guides and retired after she “padded the Beehive” too many times.

“We had to visit the government every six months to explain how the funding was spent that they provided.”

Joye and her husband eventually retired to Julia Wallace Retirement Village. She jumped at the chance to get a townhouse.

Now widowed, Joye is still a social butterfly. She loves going to musical gatherings and playing bridge with her friends.

“I don’t go to many activities at the village yet, as I am quite busy with my friends.

“But I love the fact that there is always someone looking after me and that the services are there for me if I need it.”

Thinking about what her proudest achievement was, Joye said, “to think that people go to get angiograms today and I had a part in developing that.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling.”


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