DIANA Wallace who helped many single parents in the Bournemouth area with her counselling and support service has died at the age of 92.


Born in Exeter in 1924 to architect John Sidey and his wife Florence, Diana was the youngest of six siblings. Growing up in a large family she forged lifelong friendships at St Margaret's School, Exeter, and developed a faith that sustained her through the good times and the tough times. Her childhood gave her the foundations and the values on which the rest of her life was built.


"These principles led her to study for a Diploma in Social Work at the University of Birmingham during the Second World War and she lived and worked with some of the poorest residents of the city, in the Birmingham Settlement. Her memories of this period included not only the familiar student tales of talking late into the night but also accounts of bombing raids on nearby munitions factories," said her son Nigel.


After graduating she moved to a job in social work in London, a field in which she remained active for the rest of her life.


In the early 1950s she met her first husband, Ralph Hinds, and after they were married they moved to Bournemouth. Diana quickly established a lively network of friends which endured for the rest of her life.


She also started to attend St Alban's Church where she worshipped for more than 50 years as a stalwart and active member of its congregation, committees and projects.


"She gave her time generously outside the parish, including serving as Chairman of Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Services and as the founding Chairman of James Michael House," said Nigel.


In 1980 Diana set up the Winchester Diocese-backed Wel-Care, a counselling and support service for single parents, drawing on her own experience as a single parent.


Diana received the MBE in the New Year's Honours list for 1993 in recognition for her years of devotion to counselling and caring for those in need.


The year before the award she married her second husband, retired teacher John Wallace, and they enjoyed an active retirement, travelling widely and, at home, tending her beautiful and highly productive garden.


Diana died peacefully at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital on February 16 after a short illness. Her funeral was held at St Alban's Church, Charminster on February 24.


She is survived by her children, Nigel and Hilary, her stepdaughter, Sue, her grandchildren and great-granddaughter.