Antonella (Tony) Kerr

(Marchioness of Lothian)

1922 - 2007

Journalist and broadcaster, who founded the Woman of the Year lunches. Born Antonella Newland in Yorkshire, into a military family, Lothian's mother was an Italian aristocrat. She was also shaped by completing her education amongst the growing horrors of Nazi Germany. In 1943, she married Peter Kerr, the 12th Marquess of Lothian (1992 - 2004), in London.

Lothian was a columnist for the Scottish Daily Express (1960-75), and also worked in television, producing and presenting various programmes. In 1955 she founded the annual Women of the Year lunches at the Savoy Hotel, which supported the Greater London Fund for the Blind and attracted a succession of notable speakers. In 1986, she published a biography of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, who had spoken at one of her lunches three years previously.

In 1970, she lost an eye to cancer, causing her to wear a black eye-patch which, with her jet-black hair, gave her a somewhat piratical appearance. Despite this illness, she continued as Vice-President of the Royal College of Nursing (1960-80), as Patron of the National Council of Women of Great Britain and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Convenor of the Health Festival Association and President of Christian Unity. In the latter role she spoke publicly against the 1971 Abortion Bill and founded the Valiant for Truth Media Award in 1974, which recognises truthful reporting in the media. She also worked tirelessly for Scottish charities. Lothian was a Fellow of the Institute of Journalists and won the UK Templeton Award in 1992. She was honoured with an OBE in 1997 and appointed a Dame of St. Gregory (2002) for her work to promote inter-faith understanding.

During most of their married life, the Lothians lived at Monteviot in the Scottish Borders, but latterly moved to nearby Ferniehirst Castle, where she died. They had six children; their eldest son is the politician Michael Ancram (b. 1945).

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