Myles’ Blog: How Diana Hale helped me

Myles’ Blog: Diana Hale – A Personal Tribute

“I can’t say that I had many dealings with Cllr Hale during my residency in Thurrock but,in the dealings I did have with her, I found her to be a charming, principled and feisty lady who cared for the residents of Thurrock and especially her own ward constituents.

I first met Cllr Hale when I became a student at Thurrock Adult Community College where she was Principal. It was towards the end of her time at the college but, where some people may coast for the short time they have left before retiring, Cllr Hale was as staunch an advocate for the college as she was when she first started there.

Her enthusiasm for life-long learning shone through in her work and the college was, to my eyes at least, a very happy place to work and study in.

One of my first meetings as a student governor at the college included the confirmation of the appointment of the new Principal and to agree the retirement gift for Cllr Hale on behalf of the Board of Governors. It is a testament to her popularity that there was such an outpouring of sincere good wishes and genuine affection towards her in the room and even an old cynic like me could not possibly have remained unmoved.

Whenever I saw Cllr Hale in passing she would always say hello despite not really having known me during our short time in proximity at the adult college and it made me feel kind of special for a few fleeting seconds in a life where me and my gifts have always been underappreciated. I think that that was her gift – the ability to make everyone she met feel special and appreciated and in a true genuine way, not just the way a politician manipulates you into thinking.

The other major dealing I had with Cllr Hale was last year when I covered a committee meeting at the council offices for Your Thurrock at which Cllr Hale was in attendance. The subject I was there to cover was the cost of care proceedings in the borough and, although I was new at proper journalism, I was determined to make a professional job of it. Prior to the meeting, I sent an e-mail to as many members of the committee as possible asking if I could chat with them after the meeting on the issue and I had several replies, one of which was from Cllr Hale.

I didn’t know that she was ill at the time but she briefly spoke to me and asked if she could e-mail me a statement the following day; to her credit, the very next morning I received a full response. Cllr Hale showed more concern for the plight of the children involved than she did the overspend although she was deeply concerned over the expenditure as well.

During our brief e-mail conversation, Cllr Hale’s concern for children came to the fore and she even suggested a piece should be written about the growing problems children face in our society, a piece I now regret not having the time to have written.

Cllr Hale was a very special lady and Thurrock has lost a great advocate and representative. My heart goes out to her family but I hope they will be, in some small way, consoled by the fact that Diana Hale will never be forgotten by those whose lives were touched by her presence if even for a just moment. I know I won’t forget her.

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