Diana super-fan with mass of memorabilia for show mourns 'greatest ambassador'

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A Diana, Princess of Wales super-fan whose collection of memorabilia dedicated to the late Princess is to go on show in a special exhibition has said: "There'll never be another Diana".

Jo Dobson, 78, has amassed hundreds of plates, portraits, trinkets and pictures of Diana, filling her home in Hucclecote, Gloucester.

To mark the milestone 20th anniversary of the Princess's death, Mrs Dobson has lent some of her collection to the Gloucester Life Museum.

Mrs Dobson told the Press Association: "Princess Diana meant the world to me and my husband. I think she was the greatest ambassador we've ever had.

"She did so much in her short life, more than anyone would do in a lifetime."

The royal devotee and her beloved husband Ken, who died two years ago, started their extensive collection in 1999 and began the Diana Circle fan group to help keep the Princess's memory alive.

Among the items going on show from Saturday August 26 are a commemorative plate depicting the sea of flowers at Kensington Palace, a heart-shaped Diana themed clock, a plate celebrating the birth of Prince William in 1982 and photographs of Mr and Mrs Dobson.

Mrs Dobson, who proudly wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of Diana and the words "Jo Dobson Founder Member Diana Circle UK", and a gold locket bearing Diana's photo, is also fond of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and writes to them regularly.

The exhibition includes thank-you photos and cards she has been sent by the couple.

"What I like about Kate is when there's children she'll get down to them, but there'll never be another Diana," she said.

She added: "Di was Di - as much as we like Kate. Someone said to me she might turn up at the exhibition, I said she won't. They're too busy.

"But Earl Spencer knows about the exhibition. The boys know. They've said congratulations. They hope it goes very well."

Mrs Dobson showed letters from William and Harry's office thanking her for "generous gesture" in donating items to the museum, but expressing their regret they are not able to visit it.

On display is a note from Diana's brother Earl Spencer, whom Mrs Dobson has met many times.

The handwritten letter remarks how it was good to see Mr and Mrs Dobson at Althorp and thanks them for a floral tribute they took to mark what would have been the Princess's 50th birthday in 2011.

"On my late sister's behalf, thank you for the beautiful flowers arranged in a '50' pattern". You are both very generous indeed," it said.

Earl Spencer made the pair Friends of Althorp for their devotion.

"He said to us, 'Hundreds and thousands of people love my sister but you're fanatical'. We said 'We know, but we'll never change'," she said.

Mrs Dobson is also friendly with Diana's ex-butler Paul Burrell, and her home features many photos of herself with the former palace servant.

She said more needed to be done to remember Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death and beyond, and called for a Diana Day to honour her.

"With a lot of people, she's out of sight, out of mind, and it's wrong. She should never be forgotten," she said.

"She was an icon and I say, like her two sons are being, she was human."

She added: "As soon as she appeared on the television, that girl just drew you to her."

Mrs Dobson said she had written to her local MP to call for a Diana Day each year.

"I say we should have a Diana Day and preferably on her birthday," she said.

She has long campaigned for a Diana statue, and welcomed William and Harry's decision to erect one at Kensington Palace.

Recalling Diana's death in a car crash in 1997, she said: "It only seems like yesterday. To me, time stopped still that day. No, we'll never forget her."

Mrs Dobson revealed she is no longer adding to her collection.

"We had to stop. There comes a time when you've run out of room on the wall."

She added: "We've spent thousands but she was worth it."

Curator Sarah Orton said Mr and Mrs Dobson were celebrated in the exhibition, staged in the museum's new collections gallery which showcases local people who have made collecting their hobby and their passion.

"The exhibition is less about the collection and more about the collectors," she said.

She added: "Without such people in the past many museums including our own would not have been established.

"Through the different exhibitions in this gallery we hope to explore not only the things that different people collect, but also what drives people to start and establish collections, and what those collections mean to them."

:: The exhibition opens at the Gloucester Life Museum on Saturday August 26 and runs until December 16. The museum is open 10am - 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays.