Diana Longridge was born in Exeter, England, the eldest child of Dr Charles Nepean Longridge and Dorothy Kathleen (Willey). Her surviving brother was David. Her two other siblings, Josephine and Christopher, died newborn of Rh disease. Diana was a daygirl at Brighton and Hove High School for Girls when the family lived in Worthing. She then studied Orthoptics at Guy's Hospital and practiced in Exeter while the family lived at Lympstone Grange. Her best friend was Helene Frances Leslie who married her brother, Dr.David Longridge. They settled in Victoria BC Canada with their children Christopher, Paul, James and Daphne. Another good friend was Yvonne Macleay who married Harry Swainston. One of their sons, John lives in Sydney and is considered family.
Diana met Dr Francis John Antill Pockley at Guy's hospital and on 31st August 1939 they married at a registry office in Exeter before leaving for Australia on the P&O Stratheden, the day before war was declared. His father, Dr Francis Guy Antill Pockley and sister, Catharine attended the wedding and joined them on the voyage out. Soon after they arrived in Sydney, John and Diana rented and later purchased, 75 Bay St. Double Bay.
Jane Antill P was born on 30th May 1940. The birth prompted DK Longridge to fly out to Australia in a flying boat. The journey took 11 days. Her departure was delayed by the war until 1944. In 1941 John was called up for military service which eventually took him to New Guinea where he worked in a tented hospital. Timothy John Antill P was born at 75 Bay St. on the 8th October 1942. In 1943 John was invalided out of the army with peptic ulcers.
In 1945 Diana went back to England with Jane and Tim on the Stirling Castle. She returned to Australia on the Stratheden in 1947 along with her cats and dogs. She was fond of a succession of dachshunds, Siamese cats and white fantail pigeons that sometimes fell to the cats. On the 28th January 1949 Diana became an Australian Citizen (something she always denied). On 21st September 1949 Simon Charles Nepean P was born.
Through the 1950s to the1990s, Diana pursued her interests in gardening, embroidery, music, art and books. She also took in refugees for employment and rehabilitation. In 1957 she founded the NSW Embroiderer's Guild with Margaret Oppen and eventually became its patron. She produced many types of embroidery herself, especially cross stitch, canvas work and patchwork quilts. In 1964 she founded the National Trust of Australia NSW Garden Committee to design, maintain and raise funds for National Trust gardens. She also worked with National Trust Women's Committee for the restoration of Elizabeth Farm, Old Government House and Lindesay with Dame Helen Blaxland, Cherry Jackaman, Nancy Fairfax, and Caroline Simpson. She established a library which was disbursed in 1993. The collection was reassembled in 1998 and presented to State Library of NSW as the Diana Pockley Horticultural Library by Caroline Simpson. Her own gardening books will join this collection. In 2003 Diana was awarded the National Trust medal for voluntary service.
Diana had many friends but those closest to her included Nancy Fairfax, Gretchen Alexander, Peggy Hewan, and Chiquita Cullip. For most of her married life she returned to England every 2 years and travelled widely to visit gardens and classical sites. She enjoyed watercolour lessons with friend, Thea Proctor and delighted in her membership of horticultural groups, the Queens Club and the Association of Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies. She also enjoyed subscriptions to concerts and ballet, and was always keen to promote cultural activities.
She was a cultured, elegant, decisive - but kind and generous spirited woman. While concerned for appearances she avoided any form of public accolade with a tough pragmatism that made her remarkably stoic and resilient in the face of adversity. She created her own world and never accepted Australia as home. Her sense of identity and deeply held values were embodied in the conduct of her house, her manners and the understated beauty of her harbour-side garden.
On the 21st of February 1991 John, died at Bay St of pneumonia and pancreatic cancer. In November 2009 Diana was diagnosed with dementia. Two years later, she died peacefully in her home of 72 years aged 98. She wanted to exit quietly with no funeral fuss and requested that Bach be played, the Nunc Dimittis read, and her ashes returned to Southern England.
She leaves 3 children, 10 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. All have known her kindness and her thoughtful generosity.