THIRTY years ago this week, Diana, Princess of Wales charmed all those she met during a visit to Poole.

The princess was in town to support a Great Ormond Street Hospital charity appeal and visit Poole Arts Centre.

The day began at Poole Hospital, where the princess was to launch the Dorset Candle Light appeal, part of a national effort to raise £100,000 for the children’s hospital.

She chatted to many of the local supporters of the campaign, which aimed to sell around 140,000 candles.

At the hospital’s Postgraduate Medical Centre, Diana, then 27, knelt to chat to some youngsters who had been treated at Great Ormond Street.

Rachel O’Rourke, 12, from Poole, said: “She was lovely – she asked me what was wrong with me and things like that.”

Rebecca Saunders, seven, from Upway, handed a posy to the princess and had a long conversation, while Charlie Syer from Sturminster Newton handed her a taper to light a giant candle.

After leaving the hospital, Diana spent an hour at Poole Arts Centre, now Lighthouse, which was celebrating its 10th birthday.

She visited the Wessex Hall, where Bournemouth Sinfonietta was rehearsing Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba for that night’s performance.

Visiting a children’s Funshop, she talked about ponies to Kelly Lumber, aged 12, of Whitecliff.

“She talked about her pony and how Prince Harry likes to ride,” said Kelly.

The London City Ballet, of which the princess was patron, was taking part in an educational workshop with 15 pupils from Purbeck School in Wareham.

The princess also visited students of Corfe Hills School, who were rehearsing their production of Guys and Dolls She watched the number Take Back Your Mink, admitting to Philip White, 18, from Corfe Mullehn and Claire Davis, 16, from Merley that she had not seen the show.

Afterwards, there was an impromptu walkabout, before she was presented with some Poole mementos mayor Kevin Chaffey’s children Hattie, 15, and Martin, 12.

Arts Centre director Tony Covell, who guided the princess, said: “She was so obviously enjoying herself.”

It was one of several visits Diana made locally.

As patron of Help the Aged, she had been in Bournemouth in 1987 to officially open Homelife House, the headquarters of retirement developer McCarthy & Stone.

In 1991, she visited Bournemouth’s Anglo European College of Chiropractic and told of her own experience with back pain. She was a patron of the college for six years before giving up the role following her divorce.

During a 1991 visit to Bournemouth’s Anglo European College of Chiropractic, Diana told of her own trouble with back pain. She was a patron of the college for six years before giving up the role following her divorce.

Patient Geoffrey Gibbs, 70, recalled: “She was lovely. She came in, plonked herself down and started telling me about her bad back. She said her height didn’t help.”

She arrived for that visit by helicopter to Milton Mount School in Southbourne and visited the new North Bournemouth Family Centre.

Her support for the Dorset Candle Light appeal in 1988 helped it raise £300,000 instead of the £100,000 target.

Lady Dione Digby, who was president of the Dorset appeal, said after Diana’s death in 1997: “It was certainly some measure of her enormous popularity that we raised as much as we did.”