I first met Diana Lamplugh back in college while working as an intern for a Member of Parliament in Great Britain. On arrival in London our group of 30 American undergrads each had to choose a family to live with. The staff member helping us had a 3-ring binder that listed each family on a separate page with details such as whether the family had pets. It looked like a totally random process, so as she leafed through pages I looked over her shoulder to see what might catch my eye. And I spotted a handwritten note on one page that read, “We have a summer home on the coast of Wales and our students are welcome to use it.” So I slapped my hand down on that page and said, “I’ll stay there.”
I lived with the Lamplugh family in southeast London and took an occasional wonderful trip to Wales. The Lamplughs were typical on the outside – mom, dad, four kids, two dogs, two cats. I soon learned that the mom, Diana, was anything but typical. She was a dynamo. A charismatic, insightful, charming person who could get to the core of an issue or a person in no time flat.
My first morning in the Lamplugh house started as per usual for me – I took a shower. But when I came out of the bathroom to go back to my room I found 20 British women in leotards all staring up at me from the bottom of the staircase (at least I had a towel on). That’s how I discovered that Diana led exercise classes at home; was author of a best-selling book called Slimnastics; and had launched a national fitness movement that was popular all over Britain.
For most entrepreneurs those kind of credentials are all they will ever achieve. Not Diana. She was to be tested much more thoroughly by life.
Years passed and occasionally I’d go to London, each time visiting Diana and Paul. On one visit we landed at Heathrow and I called Diana. She picked up the phone and as soon as she heard my voice she asked, “Did you see me on the BBC?” I had no idea what she was talking about. She went on, “Suzy’s gone missing, and we were interviewed by the BBC.” Thus I heard for the first time about what was to become a long odyssey for the Lamplugh family. Eldest daughter Suzy Lamplugh, a real estate agent, had gone missing, presumed murdered. Scotland Yard conducted a massive search, reportedly the biggest search ever, eventually dredging the Thames to find a clue.
Suzy has never been found and a killer never convicted; the police have named a man who they strongly suspect killed her, a man in prison for another murder, but they do not have sufficient evidence actually to secure a conviction. But Diana and Paul refused to cower, and never broke down in front of a camera. Instead they formed The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the National Charity for Personal Safety, with the mission of helping everyone to combat aggression and violence, living full but safer lives. I write this now from a distance of 25 years from the Trust’s formation and while the Trust is alive and very active, Diana is gone, having recently died.
I don’t know if I have Diana’s guts, her spirit, her resolve to do something proactive in the face of pure evil. She pressed on anyway. Especially for women who tend to get more messages from the world to just get along – take a page out of Diana Lamplugh’s positive attitude to life. Press on.