Joyce Scroxton obituary

Other lives: Energetic voluntary worker who became a leading figure in the YWCA organisation worldwide

My mother, Joyce Scroxton, who has died aged 98, was an energetic voluntary worker who became a leading figure in the YWCA organisation worldwide.

After joining the YWCA Central Club in Great Russell Street, London, in 1949, she rose up through the ranks to become president of the London region, president of the YWCA of Great Britain, chair of the European YWCA in Brussels and Strasbourg and eventually vice-president of the world YWCA, working in Geneva.

Born in Brockley, south London, to Winifred and Harry Smith, a lithographer, Joyce went to Sydenham high school. She joined the Home Office in Bournemouth at the start of the second world war as a secretary. When the war ended she trained as a youth and community worker at YWCA College.

She married Joseph Scroxton, a quantity surveyor, in 1947, and the couple moved to Shepherd’s Bush, west London. After the birth of her children, Jonathan and me, my mother gave up her club leader job, but did occasional paid work for the Home Office, in a senior “private secretarial” role to high-ranking civil servants. She continued to volunteer at the YWCA in the evenings, and from the 1960s with the Girl Guides, an organisation that she had been part of in her youth.

She became a county commissioner for the Guides, for Middlesex East, in 1964, and later a community relations adviser in Guide headquarters and project officer for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

In 1974 she was appointed London president of the YWCA, then, in the mid-80s, of Great Britain. It was in that capacity that she lobbied Margaret Thatcher in 1987 over the inclusion of the unpaid work of women in the calculations of GDP. As vice-president of the international YWCA, Joyce travelled extensively, supporting its work all over the world and visiting refugee camps.

During this time she also volunteered with local churches, first St Barnabas, Kensington, from 1964, and later with St Margaret’s in Putney until 2014. She became a member of the British Council of Churches (which became Churches Together) in Putney and Roehampton. From 1975 to 1990 she was also a magistrate.

In later years she worked as a friend of St Paul’s Cathedral, where Joseph was also a wandsman, welcoming and informing visitors of the cathedral’s work, history and worship, and she sat on the cathedral council.

She asked for no recognition for all this other than for a job well done, but it really came as no surprise to her family, colleagues and many friends that in 1987 she was appointed CBE.

She is survived by Joseph, Jonathan and me, five grandsons and seven great-grandchildren.

Jeremy Scroxton

The GuardianTramp

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