Obituary: Anne-Louise Mary Hamilton-Dalrymple, Lord Lieutenant’s wife who was patron and supporter of many charities

Lady Anne-Louise Mary Hamilton-Dalrymple has died at the age of 84
Lady Anne-Louise Mary Hamilton-Dalrymple has died at the age of 84
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Lady Anne-Louise Mary Hamilton-Dalrymple, altruist. Born: Eccles, Norfolk, 17 March 1932. Died, 7 January, 2017, Leuchie, East Lothian, aged 84

A strong religious faith and an idyllically happy marriage sustained Lady Anne-Louise Hamilton-Dalrymple in six decades of service to Scotland, and the raising of four talented sons.

She was well known and loved around the family’s home, Leuchie, in North Berwick, and across East Lothian, where her husband, Major Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, 10th Baronet, was from 1987-2001 Lord Lieutenant.

An energetic, dark-haired beauty, renowned for her lively, sparkling eyes and an ability to include the shyest person in a conversation, she was either patron, or a supporter, of many charities.

Among those causes closest to her heart were Lifeline Pregnancy Counselling and Care in Edinburgh, of which she was a founder member, and for which she raised funds and gave practical help; and Cruse Bereavement Care East Lothian, of which she was patron. In the 1970s she was Chair of Martin House, the pioneering refuge for battered women that was established by Sir Hew’s brother, Father Jock Dalrymple, in Edinburgh in the 1960s.

She also sat on the board of two grant-giving charitable trusts, the Columba Trust and the Carmont Trust.

A Montessori teacher in her youth, she sprang from a background of bravery and public service. Her father, Walter Keppel, 9th Earl of Albemarle, had won a Military Cross in the First World War; and her mother, the former Diana Grove, an Edinburgh doctor’s daughter – from 1942 Countess of Albemarle – organised the Women’s Voluntary Service in Norfolk during the Second World War; chaired the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in the 1940s; was chairman of the Development Commission for many years from 1948; was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1956 for her work including supporting the Arts Council; and in 1960 chaired the Albemarle Report on Youth and Development in the Community.

It was from her mother that the young Anne-Louise acquired her Roman Catholicism: Diana Keppel, originally an agnostic, had been in Austria during the 1938 Anschluss, and had turned for succour to the faith, having admired its adherents’ steadfastness in troubled times.

The formidable Countess, it is thought, may not have entirely approved when her only child fell in love with a young Captain in the Grenadier Guards whose prospects were no more than to be, in the Countess’s view, a mere Scottish baronet.

The pair met on a mutual friend’s doorstep in London on 1 April, 1954,when both had been invited to supper as godparents of the same child. It was love at first sight: within three and a half weeks they were engaged. They married, close to the ancestral Albemarle possessions, at the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Woodbridge, Suffolk, on 25 September the same year.

Sir Hew, who with their sons survives her, inherited the baronetcy in 1959; retired from the army in the rank of Major in 1962; and would become Captain General of the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.

In North Berwick, the couple, strong supporters of local charities and community groups, turned their hands to maintaining the beauty of their local church, Our Lady Star of the Sea, she organising the cleaning, and he overseeing the arrangement of the flowers; and are each remembered doing their own shopping in the supermarket, always greeting a wide local acquaintance. Friends recall her charm and kindness.

She was unfailingly at Sir Hew’s side at his engagements as Lord Lieutenant, and served for many years as President of the East Lothian Girl Guides’ Association. She opened the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fair at Gullane in 1977, and for 40 years presented the prizes for the North Berwick Horticultural Society show, as well as annually crowning the North Berwick Lifeboat Queen, chosen from among the town’s schoolchildren.

A private, rather than a public person, she valiantly found ways round the problem, common to many people, of an occasional difficulty in recognizing faces. She also happened to be left-handed.

The Hamilton-Dalrymples had, on the initiative of Sir Hew’s parents, moved out of Leuchie House, which remains, after a recent campaign supported by the Princess Royal, a respite home for people with MS or other debilitating neurological conditions, and is supported by an independent charitable trust.

Bringing up her family in their more modest home near by, Lady Anne-Louise is remembered by her sons as a magnificent cook. She attended a cordon bleu course in Paris in 1953-4, and favourite dishes included her chicken fricassee and many delicious puddings.

Despite her claim that the only prize she won at school – Rye St Antony, Oxford – was for posture, she was possessed of a curious and interested, inquiring mind. Hers was a house full of books, and the couple shared their love of history with their sons. Hew, the eldest, became an economist and worked in Africa; John, the second, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest; Robert became a printer and designer; and the youngest, William, is known the world over as the author and historian William Dalrymple, reporter extraordinary on the glories and fascinations, past and present, of India.

Anne Keleny