Headmaster Neil Enright today paid tribute to Diane Mason, a longstanding supporter of the School, former parent and retired staff member, who has died at the age of 88.
Diane’s association with QE extended back to 1985, when her eldest son, Andrew (Andy), joined the School, followed two years later by his brother, Chris. She quickly became involved in the work of The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, serving as Secretary for some 35 years, until retiring earlier this summer.
Diane was also employed at the School from 1997 to 2011, fulfilling administrative roles in areas including the careers programme and the School’s liaison with FQE. She was also an extra-curricular tennis and swimming coach at QE, drawing on her background in Physical Education. She then continued to support the School as an exam invigilator.
Last December, in recognition of her work for FQE and other causes in the Borough of Barnet, Diane was among the guests at a special carol service at Westminster Abbey spearheaded by The Princess of Wales. The service was attended by The King and Queen Consort and The Prince of Wales, Prince George and Princess Charlotte as well as other members of the Royal Family and VIPs.
Offering his condolences to her family, Mr Enright said today: “Diane will be sorely missed within the Elizabethan community. Few have made such a broad and sustained contribution to the School and The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s.
“Over several decades, she brought great energy, vigour and dedication to all that she did, and my colleagues and I are immensely grateful for her inspiring and steadfast support.
“Furthermore, Diane was liked and respected by everyone here at QE: occasions like Founder’s Day simply will not be the same without her. She embodied the best of FQE and its values, and I know she will be fondly remembered within our community for years to come.”
Having taken the decision to remain actively involved in supporting FQE after her sons left the School, she worked alongside her husband, George, who survives her.
Diane was a convener and recruiter who made things happen, rolling up her sleeves and leading by example. She also encouraged others to become actively involved in the Elizabethan community.
Those who have known her many years include Barrie Martin, the School’s longstanding former Chairman of Governors, who continues in his role as FQE Director. Speaking at a special event at this year’s Founder’s Day marking his retirement from the Governing Body, he credited Diane with getting him involved in the work of the Friends. This, he said, led to the then Headmaster Eamonn Harris (1984–1999) summoning him to the Governing Body.
Diane also served on the Governing Body, as a parent governor, campaigning in support of the School securing grant maintained status in 1989 – the success of which restored QE’s independence from the local authority.
Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan and his former colleague, now retired, Colin Price (Second Master from 1999–2019) have both independently commented that the charity’s name, Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, could have been invented for Diane: she was truly a friend of the School.
As well as The Princess of Wales’ carol service – for which she was nominated for an invitation by The Representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell – highlights of her association with the School include her formally opening the Shearly Hall in December 2009.