Pioneer for women plastic surgeons leaves £2.5m in will

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A SCOTTISH woman who became one of the first female plastic surgeons has left almost £2.5 million in her will with bequests to charities including Age Concern and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Anne Sutherland, who died in March, aged 89, originally trained as a dietician because her father did not think a woman should work as a doctor. But she later became a consultant plastic surgeon and a world expert on burns.

Ms Sutherland, who was the only woman ever to be president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, worked at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and at Bangour Hospital and played a prominent role in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

She never married or had children and led a relatively frugal lifestyle, driving an eight-year old VW car. Friends were surprised at the value of her savings.

Her recently published will shows she left £2,455,418.12, most of it in a £1.7m portfolio of stocks and shares. Her Edinburgh home was worth £310,000 and she had £288,000 in various bank accounts.

Ms Sutherland left most of her wealth to family and friends, but also bequeathed gifts of £10,000 each to nine organisations including Age Concern Scotland, the RSPB, the RNLI and Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

A family friend said: “Anne was a very well thought of figure in her field of plastic surgery. She had dedicated her life to her work and had blazed a trail for female doctors. She had been something of a pioneer by breaking into surgery and consultancy work as a woman.

“I’m not surprised to learn she had been generous to a number of charities in her will, although the size of her estate is something of a shock. She had been a very keen bird watcher, but her main love in life was her work and helping others. She was a remarkable lady.”

Ms Sutherland was born at Wellford, Broxburn, the only child of David Murdoch Sutherland and Margaret Bryson, on 7 January, 1922. Her family initially discouraged her ambitions to be a doctor, but after her father’s death she began studying medicine.

Ms Sutherland, who gained international recognition in the care of burns victims, was particularly interested in the effect of diet on healing and was in great demand as a speaker at medical conferences all over the world.

In her leisure time, Ms Sutherland enjoyed travelling. She learned to ski in her 40s, gained a French degree in her 70s and worked as a volunteer guide for the National Trust for Scotland.

A spokesman for Age Scotland said: “Age Scotland is always heartened with the kindness of people remembering the charity in their wills. Every donation we receive, from individual contributions to legacy bequests, goes towards the charity’s work in supporting Scotland’s older people.”