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Long-serving former court reporter dies aged 88

Joan RolandA court reporter who spent 45 years working in the regional press has died aged 88.

Tributes have been paid to Joan Roland, pictured left, who worked for the Nottingham Post and Northern Echo, among other titles, during her career.

“Determined and courageous” Joan, who was suffering from dementia, had previously overcome breast cancer in her 70s.

Raised in the mining village of Annesley Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, she was the eldest of four children born to poultry farmer George Shillitto and creative embroideress Lily.

At 16, with her heart set on becoming a journalist, she studied shorthand, typing and book-keeping at Mansfield Technical College.

Her reporting career started when she was 17 with the Beeston Gazette and Echo.

Following a stint at the East Sussex Gazette, she moved to Yorkshire to work for the Yorkshire Gazette and Northern Echo, reporting on everything from courts and councils to snow-bound families in the harsh winter of 1947, reaching them by hitching rides with the snow ploughs on their rescue missions.

After starting a family, Joan moved back to Annesley Woodhouse and later became the lead court reporter for the Post.

She remained in Nottingham for most of her career, before retiring aged 63.

Joan’s daughter Valerie Evans said: “Her ability to get to the heart of the stories and the many murder trials she covered, together with her impeccable shorthand note and her skilful use of words, earned her the respect and admiration of colleagues and legal professionals in a career that spanned 45 years.”

Joan had lived at a care home in Hucknall, near Nottingham, for the past five years.

Her other daughter, Caroline McKenzie, added: “Determined and courageous, she had a can-do approach to life’s challenges.

“In her 70s she overcame breast cancer but then found herself battling against dementia, which she did with great fortitude.

“My sister and I were both very close to our mum and she brought us up more or less single-handedly.”

Joan passed away on 12 September and is also survived by her grandson, two granddaughters and her younger brother.

Her funeral will be at Mansfield Crematorium tomorrow at 4pm.