Codebreaker's £1m will to help house people in Cumbria

Joan Nicholson Joan Nicholson was described as an "extraordinary woman"

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Money left in a former codebreaker's will is to be used to help house people in Cumbria.

During World War II Joan Nicholson served at Bletchley Park, where operators were responsible for cracking the German Enigma code.

Later in life she moved to a cottage in Grasmere, and when she died last May at the age of 87 her entire £1m estate went to the Lakeland Housing Trust.

The company acquires, modernises and lets out homes at affordable rents.

Miss Nicholson's official war records described her as a Foreign Office linguist, but her French and German skills were seized on by naval intelligence.

Staff at Bletchley Park were banned under the Official Secrets Act from disclosing any information about their military service until the 1970s.

Miss Nicholson grew up in Victoria Park, Manchester, and attended Withington Girls' School.

After the war she completed teacher training studies at Cambridge, where she was wardrobe mistress of the university's amateur dramatic club and met many people who went on to become famous, including actors Derek Jacobi and John Bird and author Margaret Drabble.

'Very private'

In the early 1990s she retired from teaching and went to live at Cragfoot Cottage in Grasmere.

The property is now being refurbished by the Lakeland Housing Trust prior to its being rented out.

The remaining money from Miss Nicholson's legacy will go towards the purchase of another property.

Charles Flanagan, chair of the trust, said: "We are overwhelmed by Miss Nicholson's generosity, she was an extraordinary woman.

"Although she was a very private person, the fact she served at Bletchley Park singled her out as being outstanding."

He added: "We want to do our utmost to respect and respond to her wishes to help house people in and around Grasmere.

"It is people like Miss Nicholson who help the trust to thrive.

"We hope we can persuade other home-owners to sell or loan us a property at a discount price, allowing more local people the chance of affordable homes to rent."

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