South African heiress leaves £3.5m to the country her father loved

THE National Trust for Scotland has received one of the largest bequests in the conservation charity's history in memory of a wealthy Scottish lawyer and farmer who made his fortune in South Africa.

The 3.5 million bequest, honouring Aberdeenshire-born George Anderson, has been made by his daughter, Clovella Mutch, who died of cancer in December, aged 84.

Mrs Mutch, of Elgin, stipulated in her will that the money should be spent by the charity in the north of Scotland, if possible entirely in Moray, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire.

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The Mutch bequest is the second substantial bequest to have been made to the National Trust for Scotland in recent months.

In January, The Scotsman revealed that William R Lindsay, a secretive American millionaire who had anonymously given nearly 2.5m to the trust before his death, had bequeathed his estate, estimated to worth $4m, following his death at his home in Las Vegas, aged 79.

Kate Mavor, the chief executive of the trust, said yesterday that the Mutch bequest was one of the largest to have been made in the organisation's history.

She said: "We are absolutely overwhelmed by this incredibly kind and generous bequest. George Anderson and the Mutches were exceptional people, with a deep passion for Scotland and the heritage of the north east.

"The legacy of their enthusiasm will be the ongoing and revitalised conservation of our national treasures."

A trust spokeswoman explained that Mrs Mutch's father had been born in Aberdeenshire in 1869, while Queen Victoria was on the throne.

George Anderson was the fourth son of James Anderson and his wife Agnes, who farmed Boghead of Cobairdy in Aberdeenshire and later at Coltfield in Moray.

He was educated in Elgin and Edinburgh before emigrating to South Africa in the early 1900s.

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The spokeswoman added: "Although he had a successful dual career as a lawyer and fruit farmer in South Africa, he kept Scottish ties and frequently visited family and friends in Moray. It was on a trip to Scotland as a widower in the 1920s that he met his second wife, and Clovella was born at their home in Cape Town in 1927.

"All through her African childhood, Clovella was brought up on her father's tales of youthful escapades on family farms and these helped influence her interest in and eventual move to Scotland in the 1940s. She married James Mutch, an Elgin businessman, and settled down with him in one of the very areas her father remembered with such affection until his death in 1952."

Mr and Mrs Mutch were married at Dufftown in November 1949. Mr Mutch died in Elgin last April. They had no children.The spokeswoman added that the "much-needed funds" would go directly to the conservation of heritage in the north of Scotland, respecting Mrs Mutch's wishes by ensuring the money was used on trust properties in Aberdeenshire, Moray and elsewhere in the north.

Ms Mavor said: "In discussion with the executors, we will be giving very careful consideration as to exactly where and how the bequest can best be used."

Ann Walker, an executor of Mrs Mutch's estate, said: "Clovella loved her father and, together with her husband, they all loved Scotland. It seemed entirely fitting to her that the land that inspired George Anderson should benefit in a way that provides a lasting memorial to him."