Created by Janet on 23/09/2015
Visitors to the Hurst sanctuary often ask about Diana Brimblecombe, the lovely lady who founded and masterminded The Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre for over 40 years. We find even old friends often know relatively little about Diana herself and her quite astonishing career in animal welfare. For most people, charitable works form an aspect of their activities that sits comfortably and conveniently with their normal routines and way of life. That has certainly not been true in Diana's case in that she willingly forsook a life of considerable privilege and ease to devote her assets and, indeed, her very existence to animals in need.
Born Diana Molloy, she and her younger brother, David, were raised in a rather affluent style by their mother, Sylvia and father, General Roy Malloy of the Royal Marines, who was The Commandant at Chatham. Even in those early days Diana's preoccupation with animals in distress became evident when she was "confined to barracks" for smuggling injured animals past the sentries! In 1939, Diana "came out" as a debutante, being presented to George VI and the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace and most young ladies in such a privileged situation would have subsequently devoted themselves to a life of ease punctuated by social events! Not so our Diana! Having arrived in Wokingham to stay with her Aunt, Mrs Pelly of Claire Court, Glebelands Rd, Diana spent the dark days of the Second World War working in factories and driving ambulances. During that time she met and married Bill Brimblecombe and their house in Crescent Road rapidly became a haven for many unfortunate creatures. Diana took on her first formal animal welfare position by becoming Honorary Secretary of the local RSPCA, but, with Bill's health giving rise to concern, the family moved to Cornwall in an effort to ease his problems. When they returned to Wokingham a few years later to look after her elderly parents, Diana began to indulge her passion for animal welfare in earnest and, having moved into Britton's Farm in 1960, she rapidly converted it into an animal sanctuary. In 1969, the activities were formally organised under the banner of The Wokingham Animal Rescue Group, which became a registered charity in 1988.
Over the last fifty years, Diana has literally devoted her entire life to assisting tens of thousands of animals in trouble. Holidays were a rarity and it was not just her waking hours involved as distressed animals frequently demanded the benefit of her loving attention during the hours of darkness. She received the willing and enthusiastic assistance of many hundreds of volunteers over the years, but, as perhaps befits the daughter of a General, always led her small army from the front! Her efforts have received recognition in many different ways, having, for example, been the subject of the BBC's programme "Down Your Way" in 1969. In 1998 Diana was honoured by her fellow citizens with a Civic Award and, in 2001, Her Majesty The Queen was pleased to award her the MBE. The most poignant and priceless tribute to her lifetime's dedication, however, must lie with the absolute multitude of animals that, having had their terrors calmed and their injuries healed, have been helped to find new lives in loving and happy homes.
She will be very sadly missed by all who knew her.