Bob Cann (1 Aug 1916 – 25 May 1990) and Joyce Sampson (30 Jun 1925 – 19 Jan 2016)

Bob and Joyce and the Dartmoor Pixie Band were a key part of many Devon villages’ social life in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and the makers of many fond and happy memories.  I was pleased to find that Bob and Joyce had lived at Ford Farm 1949 – 1964, and therefore can both be claimed as Sticklepath Residents!  Joyce returned to live in Sticklepath in 2014.  

To understand Devon step dancing watch this – Bob playing the accordion:

Here is a link to Bob’s Obituary – essentially an article about Bob’s Step dancing – from English Song and Dance Spring 1991

Joyce Cann – Obituary. Thursday, 28 January 2016 – Local People by Tom French – Deputy Editorial Manager

Accessed 2nd Nov 2020. Photo on the website. TRANSCRIBED:

JOYCE Cann, the president of the Dartmoor Folk Festival and wife of its founder Bob Cann, has died aged 90. (2016)

Joyce was born in the parish of South Zeal and spent much of her life there. She was born on June 30, 1925, to Maria and William Sampson. The middle child, she had an elder sister, Dorothy and a younger brother William.

She was born in her grandparent’s home at The Grove, South Zeal and lived all her childhood at Addiscott, South Tawton, walking the two miles every day to school in South Zeal and twice on Sundays to church at South Tawton.

When she was 11 she went to the newly-built Okehampton Secondary Modern School. Sadly her mother died at the young age of 36 when Joyce was only 13. Dorothy and Joyce were left to look after their nine-year-old brother with the help of their elderly grandparents, who were sadly in poor health.

Joyce used to wash and dress her grandmother every morning before school. She left school when she was 14, at around the same time as the start of the Second World War, but she had to stay at home and help with the running of the home and farm.

She met and married Robert Cann — known more commonly as Bob — on August 30, 1947.

Shirley was born the following year and they continued to live at Addiscott until their daughter was two. Shirley was eight when the family moved to Ford Farm, Sticklepath, where Bob became farm manager.

Their second daughter, Wendy, was born on March 28, 1959. In 1964 the family moved to Darnaford, Longdown, from where Shirley was married in 1968.

Joyce and Bob moved to a home in South Tawton opposite the church.

Wendy was 11 when they moved to Hillcrest, South Tawton, where the family lived happily for many years. Bob sadly died in 1990.

Joyce lived at Hillcrest for 44 years, until September 2014, when she moved to a bungalow in nearby Sticklepath to be near her daughter, Shirley.

Joyce was an active member of the local branch of the Women’s Institute (which later became the Moorland Group) for many years.

She also sewed for St Loye’s registered charity for the disabled and disadvantaged in Exeter, at a friend’s house every Wednesday afternoon.

She has two grandchildren, Jane and Mark and four great-grandchildren, Thomas, Charlie, Laura and Emilia.

It was back in 1978 that Bob Cann had the idea that he would like to start his own folk festival to help revive and preserve the traditions of Dartmoor and, in particular, the traditional music, dance, song and crafts of the area.

Joyce and her family and friends continue to run the festival and many members still play with the Dartmoor Pixie Band, which Bob also founded. Last year more than 100 family and friends gathered at the Victory Hall in South Zeal to celebrate Joyce’s 90th birthday.

Joyce died with her family by her side on January 19. Her funeral will be held on Wednesday, February 3 at 1pm in St Andrew’s Church in South Tawton.