It is with great sadness that Northampton Saints announces the passing of Joan Carnell, who has died aged 75 following a two-and-a-half year battle against cancer.
Joan was a cherished figure at Franklin’s Gardens on matchdays amongst all media who visited the Club.
Having looked after the press room for well over a decade, she added a personal touch to the matchday experience for the press corps.
“I know I speak for all the rugby writers when I say how much we appreciated Joan’s pleasant, diligent and welcoming presence on a matchday at Saints,” said Hugh Godwin, rugby correspondent at iNews and honorary secretary of the Rugby Writers’ Club.
“She was one of the first people you’d meet at Franklin’s Gardens and her welcome could not have been warmer.”Graham McKechnie, BBC Radio Northampton
“When I saw her in recent months she seemed to be bearing her illness with great fortitude. RIP dear Joan, and our condolences to her family, from the rugby writers.”
BBC Radio Northampton’s Graham McKechnie added: “The press room at Saints will not be the same without Joan. She might not be as widely known as an England captain or a Lions international, but Joan was every bit as important as part of the fabric of the Club.
“She was one of the first people you’d meet at Franklin’s Gardens and her welcome could not have been warmer.
“She was always radiated good cheer, even during her recent illness, and I’m certain that’s how she’d want us to remember her. I’m sure I speak for all journalists when I say how much we’ll miss her.”
Joan did not let her cancer stop her getting to Franklin’s Gardens, and she was working at matches right up until the end of last season, with her last game being Saints’ victory over Worcester Warriors in May.
Despite her illness, she was also able to see her daughters get married in recent years and was a wonderful grandmother to her four grandchildren.
Her other love was singing, and she was an active member of ‘Sound Sensation’ – the concert group of Kettering Operatic Society.
Former Saints communications manager Chris Wearmouth, who worked with Joan during his time at the Gardens, said: “Joan was special, and she certainly did not deserve to have to be fighting this disease.
“To say that the Saints was one of the cornerstones of Joan’s life is the hugest of understatements. The fortnightly fixtures gave her something to aim for, a new target to get to, and whenever she was not able to come she was mortified, regardless of the reason.
“She was one of those people who made Northampton Saints distinctive, and the reaction to the news of her passing says it all about how much people who knew her loved and appreciated her. She’ll be hugely missed.”
Joan’s memorial service will be at 2.30pm on Thursday 12 July, held at Carey Baptist Church in Kettering. Joan’s family requests that pink/bright colours are worn.
Donations in Joan’s name will be split between Cransley Hospice and the Centenary Wing at Kettering General Hospital.