A HIGHLY-RESPECTED consultant and former director at a leading firm of solicitors is
retiring after 35 years serving her community.
Diana Armstrong, who joined Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors at its Haltwhistle office in
1985, retires at the end of the month.
Clients and colleagues are due to mark Diana’s milestone with an afternoon tea party
and an early evening social in Haltwhistle on Monday.
Diana, who lives near Chollerford with her husband Kester, has enjoyed working in an
area where community spirit is so strong.
Diana, who joined Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors after gaining a first class honours
degree at Oxford University and finishing her training at Dickinson Dees in Newcastle,
said: “I can remember I was really pleased to come to a firm and a community where
you met your clients face to face, then got to know their families, and I have always
continued to enjoy that.
“When you work in a close-knit, friendly town like Haltwhistle you are always seeing
your clients. You could be going down the Main Street at lunchtime for a sandwich and
someone will ask you about their will or power of attorney. It makes you feel very much
part of local people’s lives, which I appreciate.
“Haltwhistle is a bit different from some of the other communities in Northumberland
because of its mining heritage. The mines closed over the decades after the 1920s, but
the town still has two working men’s clubs and a very strong sense of community.
“The job is made by clients and their personalities. I have acted for three generations of
families on estates, conveyancing and wills, and done the same for their children and
“I love nothing more than handing over the keys to a young couple excited about buying
their first house.
“But by the same token I might get a call from the hospital to see someone with only a
little time left in life. And although that’s sad, I hope it gives comfort to know that
everything has been put in place for their loved ones.”
Diana, who has three children, Roly, 31, and twins Genny and Naomi, 27, has seen big
changes in Haltwhistle in the last 35 years, not least the A69 bypass which meant the
traffic between Carlisle and Newcastle no longer needed to drive through town.
Technology has also benefited the job, with wills and long leases no longer needing to
be “laboriously typed up”, with Tipp-Ex at the ready for any amendments. “In my early
days the post was the most important moment of the day. Secretaries could take
shorthand dictation and deeds were still sewn up by hand, never stapled!” said Diana.
Diana has also seen Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors’ presence and expertise in
Haltwhistle grow considerably over the years.
“When I started it was me and two secretaries. I dealt with everything which came
through the door. It is very satisfying to see it grow to where it is today with seven
members of staff and three secretaries.”
As part of Cartmell Shepherd’s continuing commitment to the area the firm has also
recently invested in a major refurbishment of the Haltwhistle offices.
Diana said: “I think the branch offices are a real strength of Cartmell Shepherd. With
offices in Haltwhistle, Brampton, two in Carlisle, Penrith and Dovenby we are able to be
at the heart of those communities and cover a wide geographical area. The network of
branches means we are still able to offer that trusted face to face service and expertise
which clients really value.”
Diana has been helping local families with the important decisions in their lives for
decades. Now she’s faced with how she should spend her own retirement.
“When it comes to later in the year I plan to do some voluntary work for charities who
write wills for people on benefits and others who need help in that way.
“But first I am going to have the summer off. I am going to enjoy walking sections of the
Pennine Way with a group of my friends and former colleagues. I am also going to get
some hens and take advantage of having time to enjoy freshly laid eggs in the morning!”
Peter Stafford, managing director of Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, said: “Diana has
been an inspiring mentor and hugely respected solicitor throughout her career. Her
clients love her, and her colleagues love working with her.
“It is testament to Diana that she has built-up and developed such a strong team in
Haltwhistle with an exceptional level of expertise to serve clients throughout the area.
"We all wish Diana every health and happiness in her well-deserved retirement.”