Diana Wallace obituary

Other lives: Social worker who was guided by her Christian faith

My mother Diana Wallace, who has died aged 92, was a social worker dedicated to her chosen field in both a professional and voluntary capacity throughout her life.

She was born in Exeter, Devon, to John Sidey, an architect, and his wife, Florence (nee Brinsmead). The youngest of six, she forged enduring friendships at St Margaret’s school, Exeter. As a teenager, she developed her Christian faith, which sustained her through good times and tough times.

Her principles led her to study for a diploma in social studies at Birmingham University. As a student during the second world war she lived and worked with some of the poorest inhabitants of the city in the Birmingham Settlement, an independent agency committed to a range of projects aimed at combating poverty. Her memories of this period included not only the familiar student tales of friendships forged and late-night discussions, but also vivid accounts of bombing raids on the city’s munitions factories.

After graduating, she moved to London, where she met her future husband, Ralph Hinds, a solicitor. Soon after they married in 1952, they left the capital’s smog for the clean air of Bournemouth. Diana began to attend St Alban’s church, where she remained a member of the congregation for more than 50 years.

She served as chairman of the Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Services and was the founding chairman of James Michael House, which provided accommodation and support for vulnerable women and their children. Professionally, she became one of the key social workers for the Wel-Care association in the diocese of Winchester, setting up its Bournemouth branch. Her achievements were recognised when she was appointed MBE in 1993.

Diana and Ralph divorced in 1982 and in 1992 she married John Wallace, a retired teacher. She enjoyed an active retirement with him, tending her beautiful garden and caravanning in France well into her 80s. She also rediscovered some of the pleasures of her youth, including playing table-tennis (earning herself the nickname “the Terminator” from her grandchildren) and the occasional glass of dry Devon cider.

During her last weeks she received many visits from family and friends. She was predeceased by John by a week, and is survived by my brother, Nigel, and me, her step-daughter, Sue, two grandchildren and a step-granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter.

Hilary Hinds

The GuardianTramp

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