Remembering Joanna through the Foundation
The Joanna Leach Foundation was set up to honour the memory of a most remarkable musician and to continue her legacy. The Foundation ran until 2020 when it was closed.
Its work was most visible through a series of concerts but also quietly, in the background, promoting a love of music at the grassroots. This continues through the work of the ISCA Ensemble.
There’s an archive available to remember Jo’s life and contribution to the music scene, both locally and in her recordings. On those pages we have tried to convey some of the warmth and appreciation of her many friends, relations and colleagues. We have also included links to many of Joanna’s recordings and those artistes who were involved in her life of music.
There are written tributes as well as music and the story of Joanna’s struggle to find and finally express her musical aspirations through her involvement with the English square piano and her record label – Athene Records – now available through Divine Arts Recordings.
The aims of the Foundation were:
foster: Joanna Leach’s charitable aspirations and through the sponsorship of artists and concerts, promote an awareness of her contribution to music and her passion for quality in all aspects of life.
support: through musical activities, the aims and work of charitable organisations engaged in the care of those with life threatening or terminal illnesses.
promote: an awareness and understanding of how the performance of music can be a life-enhancing experience, facilitating social cohesion and inclusiveness within communities.
encourage: and fund professional musicians to work with amateur musicians, to engender quality and high standards in performance with the aim of enhancing a spirit of joy in achievement through participation with others in group musical activities.
Foundation Activities were:
The Foundation's Archives
The Foundation Gallery
Elizabeth Mary Tirard – Beville (1943 - 2014)
Our company Secretary Liz Tirard will be greatly missed. Liz was a co-founder of the Joanna Leach Foundation and became Mike Beville’s third wife. Liz had a special talent as an organiser; she was a Town Councillor and chair of the Planning Committee – renowned as an effective chair-person. She was a chorister and took a special interest in the organ at St. Paul’s, Honiton, maintaining it from her own funds; issued an organ recording and ran recitals to boost church funds; her range of friends and social connections was impressive. All of these talents she brought to the creation and running of the Joanna Leach Foundation.
Liz was known by many names over her 70 year life-span (born Lis, renamed Lister, married to Workman, Bellingham, Tirard, Button, Beville). She married five times and had one long term serious relationship which ended when her beloved Mike Robinson, of international rhododendron fame, died suddenly.
Bex Bellingham: “Famously, after mum had her first child – Anna – she sold all her baby gear and said, “no more!”. Then she really empathised the point by having… six more children… It is fair to say she was a far better town planner than ever she was a family planner. After Anna, came Jennie, Peter, me, Tom, Jasper and Kit.”
Liz’s story is incredible by today’s standards – as a two week old baby at the height of the blitz, taken by her Jewish mother from London and placed in a ‘baby home’ here in the South West; then seemingly forgotten, all contact lost, her name changed (perhaps to protect from the possibility of a Nazi victory) with the closure of the home and a move, never to be collected after the war. Brought up by an ageing Rose Toms born in the Victorian era it was perhaps inevitable that the relationship would be – as Bex describes it – “a tumultuous one, full of anger and a mutual struggle to understand and be understood by each other…” It was only a chance meeting that enabled her to find both her parents (then separated and remarried) in her twenties; amazed to find that her father knew nothing of having a daughter.
Since Liz’s death her daughter’s Jennie and Anna have been researching their shadowy grandparents and tracing their family in Poland (now a part of the Ukraine); the leading part her father played in the Polish army in Scotland and subsequently in the Polish community in the sixties, and of her mother’s part in the army based in London. A story that may well be told on “Who do you think you are?”
Bex: “How to encapsulate a woman who represented so many different things to different people across the years; who wore so many different hats that even she never really knew her true identity? Impossible! Mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, great grandmother, godmother, wife. friend, surrogate parent… Teacher, councillor, governor, manageress, interior designer, singer, pianist, speaker, writer, performer, director… events organiser, people organiser, organiser organiser!!!”
Mike wrote for her eulogy that:-
“Our meeting has been brief, yet our love feels timeless; grown out of previous deep and enduring relationships, it was always truly unconditional. Liz and I have only known one another for thirty months (married for twenty), yet remarkably it feels to have been a huge part of a life-time. We met after each had lost a wonderful partner, and we had already learnt valuable lessons: we made no demands, nor had great expectations; only the desire to support each other in the moment and to lovingly contribute such talents as we could to the relationship. After talking on-line and perhaps born out of some intuitive sense that this was to be a special life experience, our commitment to be together was made within an hour of meeting.”
It was wonderful being able to have her children join us and be around for her in that last month through Christmas 2010 and the New Year. Liz, whilst held lovingly in our hearts, is deeply missed.
Links and Acknowledgements
The Foundation is proud to have supported:
with help from and acknowledgements to: