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A tribute to Diana Lomas

It is with great sadness but also with fond gratitude that I recollect my memories of Diana Lomas who passed away in her sleep last Thursday in Cambridge.  Diana was actively involved in Birthlight from the beginning of its development into a charitable trust, not just as Sally’s mother but in her own right as a valued Trustee. With her professional background in social services and her keen conviction that women need adequate support in the community during pregnancy and after birth in order to help them to raise happy and ‘well’ families, Diana’s input at the Trustees’ Meetings was always to the point, practical but also with awareness of the larger picture.  Off stage, so to speak, her role was always conciliatory. At times when our Birthlight little boat would hit stormy waters, Diana would slip a ‘little word’ helping to remind us what a great team we were, pulling resources together towards a common goal.  Diana loved babies and they loved her in return. When supporting Sally’s baby yoga classes and courses, she did not just provide a helping hand to take a baby whose mother needed to let go for relaxing. She offered mothers and teachers a role model for the ’relaxed holds’ and a non-interfering yet containing style of parenting that is at the core of our Birthlight philosophy. Diana did not speak about ‘it’, she did ‘it’, and when everyone was amazed and tried to thank her she cut them short with a ‘that’s absolutely all right, dear’, and moved on. 

Diana had a strong presence in our residential courses, conferences and parties that was always appreciated by all.  She brought ‘style’ in every aspect, arriving with lovely baskets and taking care of those little details that made all the difference. I remember intimate moments when we sat together arranging flowers in the large vases of Riddlesworth Hall, bringing the place to life, and then placing small posies in each of the course participants’ rooms to welcome them.  Diana integrated formality and informality, traditional views and radical ideas, discreteness and warm closeness in ways that reflected the emerging collective ethos of Birthlight as we started to teach abroad. I particularly recall a happy residential course in Switzerland, a country that Diana liked a lot, sledging in the snow with the parents and babies around the beautiful training center in the mountains.  Diana and Sally have been the most long lasting and inspiring of mother-daughter teams in Birthlight, with support being mutual over time as Sally cared for her mother admirably since her father passed away. At every stage, Sally ensured that her mother could have what made her comfortable and happy around her; when possible, she took her to places she knew that Diana would enjoy.  This attentive and  practical caring, allowing discretion in close family relationships that are always  complex in space and time for all of us,  is something that I associate with England as my adoptive country beyond Diana’s family. Making sure that everyone is ‘all right’ is after all the condition for more, and good enough if left at that.  So my thanks go to Diana for her life inspiration with meeting all her commitments in a spirit of service, from her family outwards, while very much remaining her own person. On behalf of Birthlight, that Diana helped steer in her self-effacing yet influential way, I would like to honor her and celebrate the love that Sally and Diana have interwoven in Birthlight activities over the years. I extend my condolences to Sally’s dear family, and to her brothers and their families, particularly her brother John with whom I had the pleasure of filming a postnatal yoga DVD last year.

Françoise Freedman

Diana was that warm, friendly face who sat beside the big open fire in the hallway of Riddlesworth Hall.  As soon as the front door opened Diana came forward to greet the newcomer.  She made everyone feel welcome, and instantly a part of the Birthlight family.  Diane showed us to our rooms, sorted lights, extra pillows, blankets etc. She guided us round the warren of corridors when we got lost (frequently!!) Endless cups of tea/coffee and reassuring conversation, day and night when we felt overwhelmed, and /or could not sleep.  Diana had endless energy, entertaining numerous children of all ages while parents attended their classes.

I feel I was more fortunate than many, as Diana always accompanied Sally to Birthlight trainings in Northern Ireland.  During these visits I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and many meals with Sally and Diana, We shared many stories, we laughed, we cried.  One most memorable trip to the North coast, the events which unfolded during these few nights are too numerable to share.  Regardless of any circumstance, Diana joined in, always with a smile and a laugh. My friendship with Diana continued, any time I was in the Cambridge area, we met, to share and remember all the good (and bad) times we had together. 

I feel very privileged to have met such a lady.  Diana will be sadly missed by her loving family, her Birthlight friends and family, and I am sure many more world wide.

My personal thoughts are with Sally and her family at this very sad time.  I know all my Irish Birthlight friends and “family” who had the pleasure of being in Diana’s company over the years will share my thoughts and will send their best wishes to the family.

Liz Doherty