Thursday, 26 February 2009

London Secretary (Deceased)

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Diana Wynne Brewester (née Pryce) was born in Neath, South Wales, on 19 July 1944. She began working as a bank clerk, but was drawn to the performing arts and became proficient in dancing. Her father was a policemen, which gave her an interest in crime investigation that developed into a passion for law. He was also a Freemason and this might have had some influence on Diana’s drift into various aspects of the occult in her early years. In the wake of her father’s death, however, she discovered papers amongst his regalia that gave her pause for thought. What she found disturbed her enough to cause her to apply the brakes to her fascination with occultism. She eventually returned to the Church. This all happened after her arrival in London where she worked as a model for various fashion companies. Diana was quite tall with blonde hair and green eyes. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was exceptionally glamorous; an enchantment that remained with her to the end.
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Diana was Seán Manchester's personal assistant and the Vampire Research Society's London secretary throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Seán Manchester felt as close to Diana as any sibling might for a brother or sister. It was the same for her. As their blood relations died off, one by one, they became each other’s family. She grew to know his parents in their last years, and was present at the three most important occasions of Seán Manchester's life: his marriage, his ordination into the sacred priesthood, and his elevation to the episcopate. When the best man’s arrival was delayed at his wedding, it was Diana who immediately stepped in to become “best woman.” A better person on the day could not have been found. Diana’s support was always unflinching. She was undoubtedly one of the most generous people any in the Society have ever met. There was not a mean bone in her entire body. Her love of animals ranged from hamsters to tigers; yet she was afraid of moths. Indeed, the last letter Seán Manchester received from her, dated 21 November 2003, included a reference to this phobia, along with one of her charming drawings of five such creatures; her penultimate sentence being: “Well, ‘looking on the bright side of life,’ at least our cats are moth free, and beautifully bright and shining.” Diana loved her cats.

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Diana also loved the Kenwood Concerts on Hampstead Heath where, on summer evenings with friends, she would take a picnic and listen to the strains of the orchestra across a lake. The one thing that stood out about Diana was her voice. Her spoken voice belonged to a past time when England was far more refined than now. She also sang beautifully, whether singing church hymns or singing along to a piece of music as she cooked. She was a splendid cook, as many of us remember. Her great love of music stemmed from the world of opera. She knew all the arias to Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Bohème, and many more. She adored Wagner’s music which she listened to ever more toward the end of her life. Religion, too, was an enormous comfort. The one thing that made Diana unique was her sense of humour and ability to effortlessly adapt to any age group and environment. She seldom ever complained about anything; though the worsening air pollution and rise in crime entered her conversation more and more frequently toward the end of the old century. She even spoke of leaving London in the last couple of years. It was not to be. Catholicism became her sanctuary with her sometimes attending Polish Masses for their traditional atmosphere of devotion. Diana would always help people where she could, and in her twilight years she helped her elderly neighbours with errands, and nursing them when they were sick.
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Ironically, she was alone at home when she passed away just before Christmas 2003, having been diagnosed with cancer in the previous September. She restricted this sad news to just three of her loyal friends, and, due to her throat being effected by the cancer, no proper telephone conversation could occur. She could barely speak at all. She allowed none of her friends to visit her during her illness because she was always so glamorous and would not allow anyone to become distressed at seeing her in a bad way. Diana was undergoing radiotherapy treatment until her demise in the third week of Advent. Whatever she suffered, she suffered alone. Yet her letters to her close friends right up to the end were full of good cheer. She looked painfully thin and wan in latter years. But this did not halt her adventures, which included regular visits to Denmark and Germany. In Diana her adopted "brother" found an affinity with someone who shared the same passion for poetry, opera, theatre, art and literature. She accompanied Seán Manchester on a pilgrimage to Newstead Abbey and Hucknall Torkard Parish Church where the poet’s remains are interred. Here was someone who would accompany her closest friends to the ends of the Earth. She was a devoted colleague, a dedicated supporter of the Vampire Research Society and believed totally in the existence of such phenomena. There will never be another like her, and we shall all miss her very much. She has now gone to a place more worthy of her than the one she has left.
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Diana Brewester died on 16 December 2003 and was cremated one month later at 11.00am on 16 January 2004 at Islington & St Pancras Cemetery. Father Hubert Condron of St Joseph’s Catholic Church and Seán Manchester of Ecclesia Apostolica Jesu Christi blessed the coffin with holy water during the funeral service as they both took it in turns to address all those present. Panis Angelicus played as the curtains closed.
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