THE family of a former village postmistress have paid tribute to her after she died last week at the age of 90.

Joan Basevi, who used to run the Post Office and general store in Liddington with her husband Alan, died at The Orchards care home. She had had Alzheimer’s for the past two years.

Her daughter, Barbara Kersey, said her mother had enjoyed her time running the small village store before retiring in 1983 to move to Wanborough, where she remained an active member for the community.

She said: “In truth, she left us in December 2010 when a sudden downturn in her health broke her spirit.

“Anyone who knew her will remember the person she was – the person who loved to sing music hall songs, enjoyed a glass of wine or two and told off-colour jokes.

“The woman at the heart of the community who worked for the benefit of others and the good of all. The person with the friendly smile and the kind words.

“She loved singing old-time music hall songs and in the 1970s she helped organise and performed in several concerts to raise funds for the village hall and church.

“She was also an active member of the Women’s Institute and the Liddington Art Group.”

Joan started work at the Post Office as a girl probationer, mainly in the Telegraph Office and Telephone Exchange, and after about two years she took a further examination to become a telegraphist.

This coincided with the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, so the telegraph service began handling coded communications for the armed forces.

Joan, who was then 17, and her department became a key part of the war effort and by the end of the war she had been promoted to acting assistant supervisor.

She left her job in 1949 upon marrying Alan, as the Post Office did not employ married women.

They moved to Liddington in 1963.

The couple, who celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2009, would never have met had the war not forced Joan’s mother to take in a lodger at their Gloucester home so that she would not be called up for war work.

And while Alan was working as a toolmaker near Gloucester in 1944 before doing his National Service, he became friends with the lodger, Charlie, through a love of motorbikes.

Barbara, 59, said: “Dad brought his motorcycle round so Charlie could help him with some repairs.

“That old motorbike had a lot to answer for, as even though mum complained about riding it as she often burned her leg on the exhaust pipe when riding pillion, she fell in love with him.”

There will be a memorial service at 2pm today at All Saints’ Church in Liddington, and a gathering afterward at Liddington Village Hall.

Barbara added: “She loved All Saints’ Church and after the memorial service the family will uphold her wishes that her ashes be placed in this churchyard, where the breeze blows down from the playing field and Liddington Hill.”