She was involved in voluntary work with different charities and in 1968 was appointed a magistrate in Solihull becoming Chairman from 1981 to 1984. She chaired the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee from 1973 to 1995.
In 1988 she was appointed a Governor of Nuffield Hospitals and five years later became Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Trustees of the Nuffield Hospitals Pension Scheme. A keen golfer, she has been President of St Enedoc Golf Club since 1992.
Joan was involved in local politics from 1960 and served as a West Midland County Councillor from 1977 to 1981 becoming chairman of Trading Standards in 1979. She was Chairman of the West Midland Conservative Women's Committee before being elected Chairman of the National Committee in 1981. She was Chairman of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations in 1987 and chaired the Party Conference that year. The same year she was appointed a Party Vice Chairman with special responsibility for Women and held that office for ten years.
In 1984, Joan became a Dame of the British Empire and six years later was elevated to the Peerage. She became an Opposition Whip in 1997 and after the General Election of 2001 was appointed Opposition Whip and Shadow Minister for Education and Legal Affairs. Since May 2005, she has served as a Shadow Minister in the Lords for Home Affairs and for Legal Affairs, and as Opposition Deputy Chief Whip.
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