Joan Norton is Dr. Martin Ellingham’s aunt through her brother Christopher Ellingham. She was widowed at least 25 years ago,when her husband Phil died of Motor Neurone Disease. She managed the farm and nursed him through to the end of his life, a theme that she has continued with the villagers and her close neighbours, notably her friend Helen Pratt, who died suddenly of a blood clot on the brain.
Joan and her husband Phil played host to Martin during summer holidays when he was a small boy. Aunty Joan has always loved Martin as a mother but was separated from him when he was aged 11, after her brother found out about an affair she was having with John Slater. Martin only reconnected with his Aunty Joan again when he moved back to Portwenn. Joan continues to be very close to Martin but even she can become exasperated by his extreme bluntness and apparent thoughtlessness (“I sometimes wonder if you have a sensitive bone in your body, Martin”).
She lives at Haven Farm, which is organically certified, that she inherited from her Uncle Dick. The farm was left to both Joan and Christopher but Martin bought out his father. She supplies vegetables and eggs to the locals (directly and via the shop) and also Bert and Al Large’s restaurant. Recently, she has needed to explore the Bed & Breakfast scene to make ends meet. Her first official guest was Ted Nugent, a local farmer, who loses his farm to the bank and moves to Devon.