Joan, who later became Helena Joan Hewitt, ran the Weekly News office in the early 1990s, before becoming news editor at the Courier for several years. She had come to journalism somewhat late in life following earlier careers in teaching and public relations.
Two years ago, she was disagnosed with cancer in Italy, having moved there after her retirement.
Told that she would not be able to obtain the same level of treatment or care in Italy as in Britain, she moved back to the UK at Easter, but she died last month shortly before what would have been her 68th birthday.
Martin Lawson, editor of both the Courier and the Weekly News, said: “Joan brought a very individual style and flair to local journalism. She combined wit with diligence and determination and could, at times, be bluntly forthright.
“She did not hold back from sharing her opinions with some people who contacted us and telling them what she thought of their own views, their causes and, sometimes, themselves.
“But she was also a stickler for the courtesies of life – and correct spelling, punctuation and phraseology.
“Many a young trainee reporter was reminded of his or her failings if he or she strayed from the path of righteousness in regard to our house style and the proper use of the English language. It was a pleasure to work with her.”
In 1991, Joan had an article published in The Sunday Times about teaching. During her time with the Kenilworth Weekly News she won various awards for her campaigns.
She initially went to live in Cyprus following her retirement, but was unable to settle there and eventually moved to Verona in Italy. She was a fluent Italian speaker and taught the language in her earlier career.
Joan converted from Catholicism to the Greek Orthodox faith in the 1990s and attended the Church of the Glorious Ascension of our Lord in Rugby. It was then that she took on the name Helena.
A Greek Orthodox funeral will be held on Monday in Kent where she was living at the time of her death.
Pedant (09/09/2008 12:55:24)
What a great tribute to Joan Hewitt. Sounds like my kind of journo.
Do people like her still exist in the trade- caring about style, grammar, etc. and people too.
It certainly doesn’t look that way to me when I travel across the country and read some local papers. Some are I am sorry to say shameful in their neglect of basic English and story structure.
Thank heavens there are a few that do make an effort.