Whilst waiting for Midsummer to zoom up the bestseller charts I had a lunch date this week with the doyenne of local writers, Daff Noel. I wasn’t sure what sort of lady to expect, more than likely a stern, headmistress type. I was completely wrong. In her early seventies Daff is a lovely person, bright as a button and a non-stop talker.
She is very well known in literary circles having published several books. Probably the best-known is The Poor Shall Inherit which tells, in novel form, the astonishing story of the Westaway family who first came to Jersey in the early 19th century. The family played a leading role in the Island until the final member, Julia, died around the turn of the century. By that time a wealthy woman Julia controversially left that wealth in trust for the poor of the Island. Her estranged brother’s family challenged the will and the Royal Court of Jersey, in their wisdom, upheld the appeal. (In the words of a lawyer colleague at work the Royal Court ‘fucked up.’) Julia’s lawyers took the case to the Privy Council who overturned that decision.
The Westaway Trust has since performed its good works for the poor of the Island, notably in the provision of shoes. It operates to this day – though it is much reduced in size and scope – and Daff sits on the board of Trustees. The Poor Shall Inherit can be picked up at Waterstones, Jersey or on Amazon.
Another work is the life story of entertainer Teddy Noel (no relation) entitled Barefoot To The Palace, out of print but which you can still pick up on Amazon. In addition Daff has compiled two books of old Jersey reminiscences as well as researching and writing a number of private commissions.
So, a thoroughly enjoyable hour with Daff. She hates talking about herself and is far more concerned with helping new writers. No doubt our paths will cross again.