A MONARCHIST has assembled hundreds of items of Princess Diana memorabilia for a dedicated service marking the anniversary of her death.

Anita Atkinson has already this summer opened a museum in an old dairy barn championing the Windsors and their ancestors at her home on the outskirts of Fir Tree, near Crook.

Now the proud and passionate royalist has converted another farm building into a shrine to the late Princess of Wales, who died 20 years ago on this day.

Despite her long love affair with the royal family, Mrs Atkinson confessed she was not a “particular fan” of Diana but had been called upon by a friend to host a service of remembrance, led by Deacon Sue Peat, taking place today.

“It’s not that I dislike her or that I wasn’t in total shock when she was killed, just as I would be with any young mother,” she said. “A bad marriage and a tragic death is affecting the monarchy and we can’t allow that to happen.”

Nevertheless the grandmother accepted the task of holding an event to mark the anniversary and has pulled together an exhibition of 500 items.

A barn on her Blackhall Farm, at Harperley Hall, has been transformed using everything from cups, mugs, plates and ornaments to magazine cuttings, newspapers and pictures.

Bunting hangs from the ceiling while the fervent monarchist has even dug out two full recordings of Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding on July 29, 1981.

Among the items are those collected by Mrs Atkinson following the death of Diana when she took her then three children to sign a book of remembrance in the council offices in Crook.

“I got some flowers and laid them in the Market Place in Crook,” she added. “I wasn’t able to go to London and go to the funeral because I had three kids and didn’t have any money anyway but I bought the memorabilia that I could get.”

The service and display came following a request from Durham County Councillor for Crook, Anne Reed.

Diana supporter Cllr Reed said some residents approached her calling for a memorial event and she turned to Mrs Atkinson for help.

“I thought we should have some kind of celebration,” said Cllr Reed. “I’ve always liked Diana. When you think about what she did in her life, she did the things that nobody else would have done.

“She was a beautiful person and it was just sad what happened.”

  • The service takes place at 5pm followed by an optional afternoon tea which is priced at £5 per person.
  • Visitors are welcome to show up without booking and a collection will be made in aid of Heads Together, the mental health campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
  • For more information about the memorial event call Mrs Atkinson on 07798748828.