Woman left penniless by war leaves £6m to charity

A WIDOW whose family were left penniless after fleeing Hong Kong at the start of World War Two has left most of a £6 million fortune to charity, it has been revealed.

Georgina Sutherland was forced to flee Hong Kong with virtually no money as World War II began. Picture: Getty/AFP

Georgina Sutherland died in May this year aged 95 and has ordered the vast majority of her wealth be put into a charitable fund bearing her name.

Mrs Sutherland, who lived her later life in Aberdeen, was originally born in Glasgow but was raised in Hong Kong where their father had a civil engineering company.

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But she and her mother escaped to Australia carrying just one suitcase before the Japanese invasion of the island. Her father later died in a Hong Kong prison.

Mrs Sutherland found work as a secretary to support her and her mother but they struggled to find money for food and clothes.

She remained in Australia throughout the war and worked for the Hong Kong government who were in exile in Sydney.

After the war she returned to Hong Kong where she worked in the civil service, eventually becoming secretary to the Governor before meeting her husband Tom Scott Sutherland in 1948.

He was a highly successful Aberdeen-based architect, cinema tycoon, house builder and philanthropist.

They married in 1950 and moved into a mansion overlooking the River Dee in Aberdeen.

They had no children and Mrs Sutherland was widowed after just twelve years of marriage and remained single for the rest of her life.

It has now emerged she has set aside a massive fortune to allow good causes to benefit from her wealth.

Her published will shows she left £346,000 to family and friends but put the rest of her £6,149,722.29 fortune into the Ina Scott Sutherland Charitable Foundation.

Documents show she asked that the trust be allowed to pick and choose charities to donate to and the size of the amounts given.

Mrs Sutherland had £324,386.50 held in a Bank of Scotland account.

She had a huge stocks and shares portfolio including 10,000 shares in drinks giant Diageo worth £187,775.00, 5000 shares in British American Tobacco worth £173,237.50 and she held 30,000 shares in telecom company BT worth a total of £112,065.

Mrs Sutherland spent most of her life supporting charities, in particular the Order of St John, which is dedicated to helping others through medical and rescue activities. She was named a Dame of St John in 1979.

After her death friends paid tribute to her, with one saying: “The charity work was her life but away from that she liked bridge, fine jewellery, art and Chinese culture and antiques.

“She was also an intrepid traveller, venturing happily to locations, including Chile, where she fearlessly ignored warnings about straying from the main roads and had to be escorted out of a tough area by a police officer worried for her safety.

“She also travelled to Antarctica aged 80 and went for a swim in the Antarctic Ocean, going out further than her other travellers.

“And at 84 she went back to Hong Kong to find her father’s grave and a poppy is now laid there every year in his honour.”