Sue and Diana named in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list

Sue Brett and Diana Hasting have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Jo Duckles reports. 

DIANA has been awarded an MBE for her services to the family charity PACT. Diana, who visits Church House Oxford to proof read the Door every month, has been a trustee of PACT for 17 years. PACT was set up in 1911 as the Oxford Diocesan Council of Social Work to help the destitute.

Diana Hasting

Diana Hasting

Diana’s first job after leaving school was at 10 Downing Street as a Garden Room Girl. “It was an extremely grand typing pool that looked out over the gardens of the PM’s house. She left number 10 to marry a young barrister called, if you can believe it, Harold Wilson.

She was later the secretary to a charity called the Society for Computers and Law. “I used to visit solicitors’ officers and tell them that eventually every lawyer would have a computer on their desk and they fell off their chairs laughing, but it was just at the beginning.” Diana’s role was freelance and she also offered typing services and worked as a conference organiser.

She had three sons and a daughter to her first husband who was later a judge but they divorced in 1972. She married the late Peter Hasting in 1978 and says her MBE is a tribute to him. “He gave me the confidence to do things on my own and then encouraged me to go out and do them,” says Diana.
Her experience of family life inspired her to help with PACT when she discovered the charity at an Oxford Diocesan Synod meeting. “When I first joined it was very much a voluntary adoption agency,” she says. “Since then it has diversified very much into community work. For many years they ran Oxfordshire County Council’s children’s centres and they now run two big community projects – Alana House, a one-stop shop for disadvantaged women. We gave five girls from Alana disposable cameras and got them to take lots of pictures and talk about what it had meant to them to attend a conference in Brussels discussing the treatment of offenders in various countries.”

PACT’s other big project is Bounce Back 4 Kids – therapy for children who have witnessed domestic violence. “Sometimes they might have had to give evidence against one of their parents. The parent who has been the victim of domestic violence does a parallel course,” she says.

Diana is also a Poppy Appeal organiser for about 100 collectors and also offices and shops on Milton Park. “Peter and I did it and I continued after he died. She was a trustee of the Mothers’ Union Oxford Diocese for about 12 years and feels her MBE is in silent tribute to her MU work with families. She is a member of her Deanery Synod and Diocesan Synod and the PCC Secretary for All Saints Sutton Courtenay. She is also a member of the Oxfordshire fundraising committee for PACT. Diana says: “While the gong is in my name, I treat the honour as public recognition of PACT’s wonderful work in the Oxford Diocese.”

MOTHER-of-four Sue gave up her paid work to set up voluntary ventures to tackle food poverty in Maidenhead. She has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Sue Brett

Sue Brett

Sue, from St Luke’s, Maidenhead, set up Open Kitchen in 2010 — providing nutritious meals for the homeless and vulnerable every day. “Anyone who wants to come along can have a free meal and break bread with us. We all sit down together. For the first couple of years I was involved every night, but thankfully we now have a lot of volunteers. It’s interfaith and during Ramadan the Muslims join us for that one particular meal and then at Eid we have a big celebration. It brings everyone together regardless of who they are or what they are, it shows that we are all one. For me this is my calling.”

Sue praised the volunteers who help make the kitchen possible. “I couldn’t do a quarter of what I do on my own,” she says. In 2014 Sue set up the Brett Foundation, providing housing essentials for people who can’t afford them, and school uniforms to around 100 poorer families.

Before starting her charity work, Sue had worked as a paralegal and as the administrator at St Luke’s Church. The letter informing Sue she had been awarded the medal came as a surprise. “You see all of the high flyers but I don’t think of myself as anything special, I’m just a mum,” she said. “I hope that the publicity it’s brought will help us to help more people.

Sue is married to John and has four children aged 27, 25, 21 and 20.