Farewell to Di

12th September 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

It was the approach of autumn and the idea of all those wet leaves blowing into the Library entrance and being trudged upstairs that clinched it for Scout Diana Surrage after 36 years at Wadham.

  • Diana Surrage

On the spur of the moment, at the age of 71, she handed in her notice. “I have had many happy years here but it is a very physical job and the time has come,” she said.

Di began work at Wadham on 19 April 1982 as the Scout responsible for the Bursary and Library Court. “I started when my husband was made redundant and planned to do the job for just a little while – but I’m still here.”

A keen Liverpool football supporter, Di always got on well with the students and would be happy to discuss football and cricket with the undergraduates. “They knew where I used to go for a drink with my husband and they would come and get us to join them for drinks in the Cowley Road when they were living out in second year, and invite me to their parties.”

A dog lover, Di told one American student, a keen tennis player, that she would be happy to have his used tennis balls for her two Afghan Hounds. “When he left at the end of the year and I was clearing out his room I opened his cupboard door to find he had left me a whole cupboard full of balls, all in their tubes!”

When former Warden Neil Chalmers knocked on the Bursary door one morning, Di asked him who he was. “He mentioned it in his leaving speech – it was his first day and I had no idea!”

Animals have always been a passion for Di and she was the one who fed the feral cat Dotty who lived in College when John Flemming was Warden. “One Christmas I was away and I couldn’t find anyone to feed the cat so I asked the Warden and he did it!” College foxes and ducks have also benefitted from Di’s compassionate nature.

Her retirement plans include a week-long visit to Monkey World, an ape rescue centre, in Dorset – a place she has visited many times.  Monkey World assists governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild. At the Centre refugees of this illegal trade, as well as those that have suffered abuse or neglect, are rehabilitated into natural living groups. “I saw a programme on TV about the pace years ago and have visited many times – the work they do is amazing.”

Terry Waite and Daniel Day Lewis are among the well-known names that Di has met during her time at Wadham, not to mention the senior academics, including Dr Stephen Goss who for many years lived in a flat in Library Court.

“It will be hard to break the habit of getting up at 4.30am for my 6am start,” admits Di. “And I shall miss it very much - it has been my life for such a long time and I have had many happy years here.”

  • Members of the Wadham community gather to say a fond farewell to Di

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