SHE was an outstanding music teacher who honed the skills of many youngsters throughout the district.

Piano specialist Joy Trotter worked voluntarily at local schools, including Whitley Chapel First, as well as Hexham Middle and the town’s Queen Elizabeth High School.

Now tributes have been paid to the wife, mother, sister, aunt and grandmother, who died following a short illness.

Joy lived at Hexhamshire for nearly 40 years with her husband David, where they bred Shetland sheep.

It has been quite a journey for Joy, who was bright and hard working throughout her life.

As a youngster she attended County High School in Carlisle, where her talent for the piano was spotted and nurtured by her teacher.

Joy won a significant national competition at the age of 11, and by the time she was 16, had won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Joy practised hard and emerged a well-trained and exceptional pianist at the end of the five-year course.

Joy had the talent to pursue a performing career, but she chose teaching and did a post-graduate teaching diploma in London.Years later, Joy was asked if she regretted not going for performance, but she was adamant that teaching had always been what she wanted to do. She knew what it meant to teach, and that was what she wanted.

Joy did her primary teaching practice at a school in Penrith, and when the year was over moved to work at Ely High School for girls. It was there that she met David, who was a history teacher.

They married in 1973 and David then gave up teaching to take up law, training as a barrister. Joy, meanwhile, had her first two children, Matthew and Helen, but also was head of music at the Art College in Winchester. This was a thriving and prestigious department, producing some exceptionally talented musicians.

By 1982, David had been practising law for some seven years, and the family decided to move back to Joy’s roots in the north. They bought some land in Whitley Mill, Hexhamshire, David’s father designed a house, and for nine months they lived in a caravan while the house went up.

Joy had two more children, John and then Greg. She served as a school governor, volunteered at local schools, and was also head-hunted for a teaching job at Longbenton in Newcastle.

Friend and former colleague Sheelagh Tickell said: “Joy is remembered with admiration, love and respect, and she took music to an outstanding level.

“I vividly recall her school quartet of 10 year olds, beating RGS sixth formers in the Tynedale Music Festival. That is the impact an outstanding teacher makes, and she could do it with all abilities too, not just the more able.”

As sheep breeders on the family farm, Joy and John became truly knowledgeable about this rare breed and went on to show and to judge at all the main agricultural shows - the Royal, the Royal Highland, Great Yorkshire, and many other smaller shows. They both served on the committee of the Shetland Sheep Society.

Sheelagh added: “Joy was such a talented woman in so many ways. She was vibrant, a real force to be reckoned with, strong, and knowledgeable. But above all she was a musician.”