Born in Bishop Auckland, Joy is the only daughter of the late Jospeh Nolan, a former foreman and musician and Julie Nolan, a regional sales manager for British Gas.
Educated at Tudhoe Grange Comprehensive School (Spennymoor) Joy went on to study at New College Durham where she was awarded a Diploma in Community and Social Studies and BA (Hons) in Management and Administration. She later studied for her Masters at University of Leicester (Scarman Centre) where she gained a MSc in Security and Crime Risk Management and Durham University Business School where she was awarded an MBA.
Joy moved to Germany in 1984 and stayed for 7 years during which time she worked for HM Forces. She returned to the UK in 1991 to have her first child whilst her husband was serving in the first Gulf War.
Joy then continued her career in the public sector working for Durham Constabulary, Sedgefield Borough Council, Middesbrough Council and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service where she was Head of Service and Area Manager for Community Safety before taking up a position of National Account Manager working for Serco on behalf of the Cabinet Office’s Emergency Planning College.
Joy joined the Labour Party in 1995 and was elected to Durham County Council in 2013 representing Bishop Auckland Town Ward. She was appointed to the Cabinet in 2015 where she held the Safer Communities Portfolio and represented the Council on the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
She was re-elected as a County Councillor and a Town Councillor in 2017 and was appointed to lead Durham County Councils Transformation Programme. In 2019 this portfolio was expanded to include Culture and Tourism and Joy currently represents the Council on the national(LGA) Innovation and Improvement Board and Chairs the North East Regional Prevent (Counter Terrorism) Forum.
Joy was elected as Bishop Auckland’s Mayor in 2019.
Following the untimely death of Ron Hogg CBE, Joy was selected by the Labour Party to stand as their candidate for Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections that were due to be held on the 7th May 2020. Due to the Coronavirus these elections have been postponed until May 2021.
Joy is married to Brian a retired Chief Executive and has two children Faye and Jack and two step children Lee and Stephanie.