Lives Remembered: Anne Diamond was a generous pilgrim soul who saw good in everyone
A truly inspirational woman who lit up any gathering, Anne Diamond saw the good in everyone she met. And they saw the good in her.
Those who had the privilege to know and love her knew that there was something very special about Anne. She had a rare charisma that lifted the spirits of all around her.
Anne was a south Derry girl to her core. Born in the Broagh in Heaney country to James and Elizabeth Doyle, she and her husband Seamus settled in Derrygarve near Castledawson and raised four children.
A devoted wife and mother, her life was torn apart in June 1985 when her beloved daughter Camilla was struck by a car and killed as she walked home from a teenage disco.
Such was Anne's grief that we feared the loss would destroy her.
Her faith sustained her through those terrible days - her love of God, her love of family and friends, as well as her love of a flutter on the machines in Bundoran.
As Anne recounted it, she prayed to get to Medjugorje, believing it would bring some measure of healing to her broken heart.
And on one of her trips to the slot machines her numbers came up - her €2,000 winnings meant she could travel to the pilgrimage site for the first time.
While there, she had a remarkable experience that she described when she was invited to London by Channel 4 in 1991 to appear on the After Dark programme.
That particular episode was called "I Believe in Miracles" and Anne told the story of going to Medjugorje and witnessing an apparition there.
Unsurprisingly she held her own among the panel of distinguished scholars and academics.
Thus began a series of journeys that showed us her pilgrim soul and her sense of adventure.
Anne's ability to entertain and empathise was recognised by Joe Walsh Tours and Celebration Travel who had the good judgement to give her a job as a tour guide in Lourdes and the Holy Land.
Hundreds of Irish pilgrims came to know her in that capacity.
Anne loved style and few women could look as stunning as she did with as little effort.
Her make-up routine was a quick slick of lipstick, often applied with one hand as she stirred dinner with the other, all the while carrying on a conversation with the phone tucked underneath her chin.
Her love of fashion saw her open a boutique in Toome in the 1980s, although the project was short lived as her generous heart stood in the way of profit - if something looked good on you, she insisted on giving it away.
She loved her community as she loved her family and she delighted in the success of others.
A great neighbour, and organiser of weddings and wakes, Anne stood for values of fairness and equality and human decency.
She worked as a community development officer in Ballyronan, championing the rights of women and rural areas.
She was a liturgical reader and member of the diocesan and parish councils.
As a volunteer with Cura, she opened her home and her heart to provide practical and emotional support for unmarried mothers and their babies. She later did the same when she became a foster parent.
Anne also extolled the virtues of temperance wherever she went.
She loved the arts and in her earlier years she recited poetry at Scór competitions.
She turned her hand to theatre at one point when she staged the Song of Bernadette in her parish of Newbridge with a local cast.
News of the quality of the production spread quickly, leading her to take it on tour to neighbouring parishes.
Anne also had a real thirst for learning and she returned to study as a mature student.
Above all else, she loved her family - her husband Seamus, sons Colm and Seamus, daughters Camilla and Veronica, her 11 grandchildren and her great grandchild, her brother, sisters, nieces and nephews, son-in-law and daughters-in-law.
She took pride in every one of their achievements and in return was encouraged and supported by them every step of the way.
Anne Diamond died on September 29 2017 after an illness that was bravely fought. On that day, it is said, a light went out in Derrygarve.
May her generous, spirited and beautiful soul rest in peace with her sister Bernie and her beloved Camilla.