DIANE Hawkins gives out cards simply bearing her name and phone number – she is involved in so many different organisations one card simply would not fit all.

Her life took its route into helping others almost by chance but today she is high profile in areas varying from the Family Court and the Scouts to charitable trusts and Bolton’s refuge for women and children escaping domestic abuse.

Diane was born into a comfortable family life in Sale, Cheshire. Her father was an engineer who came from Yorkshire to work for Metropilitan Vickers. So, from an early age, Diane wanted to be an engineer — an ambition discouraged by her father.

However, as a man from a poor home — he was one of six — who went to university, he valued education and both Diane and her brother went to good schools. Diane went to Withington Girls School in Manchester where the can-do culture was rife.

Diane’s mother was a committed charity worker and a hard-working member of the WRVS so, from an early age, Diane was surrounded by a strong social conscience “and I think some of that just rubbed off,” she recalled.

When friends talked about studying law, she liked the idea so went to the University of Sheffield to take a law degree followed by the College of Law in Chester.

She joined Whittles’ Solicitors in Manchester in 1980, served articles there, and spent her life as a solicitor with this company. “It was a Trades Union practice,” she explained, “and my speciality was in asbestos diseases, dealing mainly with mesothelioma among members of the Boilermakers’ Union employed in the shipyards at Barrow in Furness.”

From an admittedly happy and sheltered home life, Diane was seeing first-hand the poverty of others and helping them fight their cases. “I saw a lot and learned a lot,” she added.

By then, she had met her future husband, Stephen, also a solicitor. The two young lawyers had looked at commutable areas into Manchester city centre and found an affordable house in Little Lever, moving to Bolton where they have made their life with their two sons, Jonathan and Timothy.

In 2002, Diane left Whittles’ for family reasons and, after a career break, became the part-time parish administrator for Christ Church, Heaton until 2010. In 2005, however, she became a JP on the Bolton Bench and in 2014 elected to sit only in the Family Court in which she was particularly interested.

In 2004, she had become a trustee of the Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust which considers applications from charitable organisations around Greater Manchester. This is chaired by the Lord Lieutenant which led to Diane becoming one of Greater Manchester’s Deputy Lord Lieutenants in 2008 with all the public duties that entailed. She is also chair of the Bolton District Committee of the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy and takes every opportunity to promote the borough and its wide rage of voluntary organisations.

In 2007, she was asked to become a trustee of Bolton’s refuge, Fortalice, first as its secretary and then as chairman in 2011. In this hands-on role, Diane, although not involved in the day-to-day running of the refuge and its support centre, consults regularly with Fortalice’s director of services, Gill Smallwood, and sits on both the HR and Finance sub-groups.

“It’s strange, really, how I have moved to various organisations as it all just seems to have happened naturally,” said Diane. “There have been links between the various areas and I’ve gone from one thing to the next.” When her children were young, Diane became involved through them in leading a local cub pack, preparing activities for 24 boys plus the annual camp. When she stepped down from this role, she was asked to chair Bolton West District Appointments Committee for the Scouts and received the Chief Scouts’ Commendation for Good Service for her work.

She is now the chairman of Bolton Scout Trust, which owns and runs Bibby’s Farm Scout Camp at Heath Charnock where 10,000 children a year enjoy activities and camps. Diane is currently involved in chairing a group to raise £750,000 to improve its facilities.

Her busy itinerary means that Diane, at 60, never contemplates retirement – “I look forward every day to what is happening”, she said.

She believes that Bolton has not only a very rich seam of voluntary groups but also a population keen to help, if people are told exactly what’s needed.

“I just don’t understand people who don’t feel the urge to help in some way. It’s so natural to me, and it gives so much back, I can’t imagine others not feeling the same way.”