Tributes to a remarkable woman

QUALIFYING for Wimbledon, decoding military intelligence and becoming an exhibiting artist are just some of the achievements Diana Longe packed in to her 93 years.

QUALIFYING for Wimbledon, decoding military intelligence and becoming an exhibiting artist are just some of the achievements Diana Longe packed in to her 93 years.

Diana, of Hasketon, near Woodbridge, also raised four children and worked on the family farm – feats made all the more incredible by the fact that she suffered from an illness which made her partially deaf.

Her son, Nicholas, a former High Sheriff of Suffolk, today paid tribute to a "woman of iron, who never had a bad word to say about anybody."

Born in Tunbridge in 1910, Diana, or 'Didy' as she is known to friends and family, died at her home in Hasketon, near Woodbridge last month.

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The daughter of an army major, she spent much of her childhood moving around the country.

During her late teens Diana developed mastoids in both ears which left her partially deaf. This was to affect her for the rest of her life.

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She excelled at sport while she was at school and, in the late 1920's, she qualified to play at Wimbledon.

Nicholas said: "It was quite a different thing in those days. When people talk about Wimbledon now you think of John McEnroe, Tim Henman and all those kinds of people, but it wasn't anywhere near as competitive then.

"If you ever tried to talk to her about it she would push it aside. She was incredibly modest and I never once heard her boast about any of her achievements."

Soon after, Diana met her husband, Lt Col Roly Longe. Nicholas said: "I think life with a young army officer was quite a heady experience in those days: lots of hunting, point to pointing, hunt balls, tennis parties and tournaments and one or two deliciously wild sounding parties."

A few years later the couple had their first son, Richard, and two years after that, Nicholas was born.

In 1938, the family moved to Jamaica, where Roly was stationed for four years. During this time Diana worked in Kingston where she decoded military information for the government.

Nicholas said: "Everybody got involved in the war in some way or another but it was quite something for a woman to be doing a job like that."

After the war the couple had two more children, Victoria and James, and Roly left the army to take up farming.

The family moved to Hasketon, where they have remained ever since. Here, Diana helped out on the farm while bringing up the children.

Nicholas said: "She never shied away from a day's stooking or carting corn or other tractor work – she even built a brick wall!"

Later in her life, Diana took up painting and had her work exhibited at galleries throughout the Woodbridge and Ipswich area.

Nicholas said: "I think the thing she will be most remembered for is being herself.

"She was a very slight woman but had a constitution of iron and all those who knew her seemed to be genuinely captivated by her quiet charm and her lovely expressive face."

Diana had eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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