Diana Eve Gould
Enthusiastic centenarian torch-bearer for a life far less ordinary
AT THE age of 100 Diana Eve Gold was the oldest participant in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, carrying the torch on her old home turf in Hendon, NW London. As everyone who met her testified – from the manager of her local Sainsbury’s to the Duchess of Cambridge, from Boris Johnson to Joan Bakewell – Diana Gould, who has died aged 106, was far from ordinary. She had a passionate enthusiasm for life and for people.
Her charm and her wisdom became apparent when she was selected to take part in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Turning 100 shortly before the Games began, she was interviewed for countless media pieces from the Evening Standard, Guardian and Telegraph to a BBC2 educational programme and a Japanese TV documentary.
She turned down an invitation from Jeremy Paxman to appear on BBC Newsnight on the grounds that she didn’t like him! She was photographed for the Olympic Road to 2012 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery by renowned Israeli-born photographer Nadav Kander. And in the same year she was a guest at the Woman of the Year lunch.
A natural interviewee, she was happy to share her observations on a healthy and positive mental outlook, as well as her memories of the city in which she had spent her life. Media interest in her continued long after the Olympic Games ended. She featured in a Channel 4 documentary about long life presented by Dr Christian Jessen in 2015 and in 2017 she was interviewed by Joan Bakewell for a Panorama special about centenarians and later on TV and in a Woman’s Hour interview on Radio 4. Her final media appearance was in January this year when she was filmed for BBC Breakfast TV.
Diana Eve Gould was born in Poland, WNK[ XM_ ]QN āX^WPN\] MK^PQ]N[ XO Mary (Manya) and Zalman Silverberg. She and her mother and siblings came to London in 1913, joining her father and two older brothers who had come the year before to seek a better life and to avoid the probability of being draft- NM RW]X ]QN ò_K[´\ K[Vā
The family lived in Bethnal Green, E London and she remained at Mansford Street Central school until she was 14.
She then worked as a seamstress for Brenner Sports, a high-fashion company in Carnaby Street that specialised in copying dresses from the latest hautecouture styles on the Paris catwalks.
In 1936 she married Ellwood (Ted) Gould, an upholsterer and later black taxi driver, and they had two sons, born either side of the Second World War, in which Ted served as a fireman in the Auxiliary Fire Service in London. They lived in Stamford Hill before moving to a flat in Stoke Newington and then in 1960 to their own house in Hendon.
As a resident of the city for over 100 years, Diana was always fascinated by the history of London. Her earliest memory was seeing horse-drawn buses on Shoreditch High Street when she was two years old. She also recalled the local policeman cycling around with a whistle to warn of air raids during the First World War and a Zeppelin flying over her primary school playground.
She credited a wardrobe made by her father with saving the family’s life M^[RWP ]QN 2UR]_ 2ā YUKûRWP R] Kû[X\\ the window it protected them from the bomb blast and flying glass when the next-door building took a direct hit.
Last year she contributed to the PhD project of Rabbi Miri Lawrence on Judaism in the Suburban Home in the post-war period. A filmed interview with Diana, which formed part of the research, was shown at the Geffrye Museum (close to her childhood home) where it will be on permanent display when it reopens in 2020.
Diana was a keep-fit enthusiast throughout her life, taking exercise classes at the Women’s League of Health and Beauty. She started playing badminton in her 70s and continued until she was 89, when she moved into a retirement flat in Kenton. There she ran weekly fitness classes until she was over 102.
Diana was a very keen reader, devouring many novels, especially thrillers,each week. She was never ÿR]QX^] K Y^__UN LXXT Lā QN[ K[VûQKR[ and loved to play Scrabble. She is survived by her sons Brian and Stuart, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Ted predeceased her in 1978. ALEX ANTSCHERL
Diana Eve Gould: born May 12, 1912. Died June 25, 2018