Diana Wilkinson (nee Kennett)

  College: Trevelyan College
  Subject: Geography
  Class of: 1977
  Location: Hitchen

Your Durham Inspiration

Do you remember why you first chose to study at Durham?

I was recommended by someone at our school in Belfast who went to Durham. He was a couple of years older and also studied geography. He raved about the wonderful time he was having….

Tell us about any sports, societies or clubs you were involved in at Durham.

I captained the University women’s tennis team and drove the team to Aberystwyth when we reached the final rounds of the UAE championships. Unfortunately, we lost in the semi-finals.
I also played table tennis for the University, travelling to other universities to play in events and tournaments. Again, as a young driver (in those days very few students had driving licenses!) I drove the players up to St Andrews and down to York!

What work or moment were you were most proud of at Durham?

Hard to pinpoint one moment or one piece of work. I was proud to be there and to have had such a wonderful time. Perhaps my vibrant social life was the highlight of my time there. I never missed a party, an event or a ball.

What are your fondest memories from your time here?

The amazing friends and connections I made. To be able to meet so many smart and interesting people every day in both work and social environment is a unique experience.

How has Durham inspired you to get to where you are today?

My time at Durham gave me confidence and belief that anything was possible. To have been part of such a prestigious establishment was indeed an honour.


What have you been up to since you left Durham?

It took a long time to decide what career path to follow. After a period working in London as a PA in banks and financial institutions, I spent a short while teaching geography in a girls’ private boarding school. Although I really enjoyed teaching, I finally went into the business of tennis development. Having played tennis for Ireland, the sport has always been a great passion. I eventually bought up three tennis clubs in North London and ran them as coaching schools for over 20 years. I also set up the first ever Junior Tennis Club in the country.

What are you doing that is most meaningful to you now?

When I finally stepped off the tennis court a few years ago, I took up writing. I am now a full-time published author with 3 best-selling crime thrillers under my belt, with the fourth one due out on 1st July 2021.

Is there anything from Durham that has stayed with you and still inspires you now?

My memories of my three years there are always with me. Interestingly my son went there a few years ago and was also at Trevelyan College on the same landing where I lived in my first term! Regular visits up to see him brought back many nostalgic memories.

Tell us about your latest news or developments.

Being a best-selling author has come as a surprise, as I had no formal training in writing but just sat down at the computer one day and gave it a go. The inspiration for much of my work has come from the hundreds of ladies I coached tennis to over the years and the confidences we shared over coffee. My novels are psychological thrillers dealing with obsession and relationships.

Personal interests

Tennis, reading, playing the piano and violin (both of which I used to teach), cooking, fine wines and keeping up with friends.

Pass It On

What would be your top piece of advice for current students and/or recent graduates?

Follow your dreams. Anything is possible. Don’t rush to settle into a career that you’re not sure about. Take your time, enjoy yourself until you find work that inspires you. We work for too many years to settle into something that doesn’t make us happy.

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d known when graduating?

I wish I had had more confidence. Having achieved so much, I doubted myself for a long time. Graduates from Durham University should be brimming with confidence and self-belief. They have already achieved more than most people could ever dream of.

Related Links

Any published work?
Any published work?
My published novels are:
4 Riverside Close
You Are Mine
The Girl Who Turned A Blind Eye
The Six Guests (out in July)

Website or blog link?

Twitter: @DiWilkinson2020
Instagram: @dianakennett37

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