About The MacRobert Trust
Welcome to The MacRobert Trust, a modern and dynamic charity with an exceptional legacy. As a forward-thinking grant maker and landowner, with a large and vibrant estate, we take pride in managing our resources with a fresh perspective while staying true to our roots.
At the heart of our decision-making lies our benefactor, Lady MacRobert, who believed that young people can achieve great things, no matter their backgrounds. We strive to keep alive Lady MacRobert and her family’s memory and legacy by creating opportunities and supporting charitable organisations that share our vision.
Since our inception, we have donated millions of pounds to charitable organisations, created prizes, awards, traineeships, and endowments, and funded building works across the country. We believe in nurturing talent and empowering young people to achieve their full potential.
Our approach to overall estate management, grants, and training schemes is innovative, and we are committed to supporting our beneficiaries in the best way possible. You can learn more about our work and the MacRobert legacy by exploring our website.
The History of the MacRobert Family
There are few in the military or amongst those who remember the Second World War who don’t know the story of the MacRobert family. Lady Rachel Workman MacRobert (1884 – 1954) and Sir Alexander MacRobert (1854 – 1922) had three sons, Alasdair, Roderic and Iain.
The eldest, Alasdair, who inherited the baronial title on his father’s death, was killed in a civil flying accident in 1938, aged just twenty-six. On his death, the baronetcy passed to his brother, Roderic, a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Roderic was lost in action just three years later on May 22nd, 1941, also at the age of twenty-six, while leading a flight of Hurricanes in a strafing attack on a German-held airfield in Iraq. The baronetcy now passed to the youngest son, Iain, who was by then a pilot officer in the RAF having joined straight from Cambridge University.
Less than six weeks after the death of his brother, Iain was reported missing when his Blenheim aircraft failed to return from a search and rescue mission which set out from RAF Thornaby in North Yorkshire. His body was never found. He was twenty-four years old.
One can only imagine how Lady MacRobert must have felt on hearing of the loss of her sons but her immediate response gives a flavour of her character. She made a donation of £25,000 to purchase a bomber for the RAF and asked that it be named “MacRobert’s Reply”. The chosen bomber was a Stirling of XV Squadron, which was handed over in October 1941 to its first captain, Flying Officer PJS Boggis, who captained it on twelve operational missions. This was the start of a tradition that the RAF has kept alive. A succession of RAF aircraft has since carried the name.
In 1942, Lady MacRobert donated a further £20,000 to purchase four Hurricane fighters, which were sent to RAF operations in the Middle East. Three were named after her sons and the fourth after her.
These acts of fortitude and determination cemented a charitable legacy that originated with her husband’s benevolence in India and still resonates today.
Between 1943 and 1950, Lady MacRobert established a series of trusts to reflect the interests of her late husband, who through hard work and study rose from humble origins to make his fortune in India, and of her American parents who were famous mountaineers, explorers and authors. In particular, Lady MacRobert wanted to provide the means and organisation to foster in young people the best traditional ideals and spirit, which she believed had prompted so many young people, including her own sons, to fight in the Second World War.
These ideals and this spirit still inform the work we do today and underpin the ethos of The Trust.
The MacRobert Trust Coat of Arms motto translates as “Not for self but for country” and this philanthropic ethos remains central to The MacRobert Trust.
Our work is rooted in the character of Lady MacRobert and her interests and passions.
It is these interests and passions that continue to form the focus of The Trust’s work today, in particular:
- To maintain a strong and vibrant connection with the armed services.
- To advance academic and practical education and training.
- To encourage and reward excellence in the arts, science and engineering.
- Promote best practice in agriculture, horticulture, the environment, biodiversity and rural skills, through the advancement of research and learning, and in the pursuance of best practice and professional excellence.
- To promote good practice in farming and horticulture.
- To keep The Trust and its work at the heart of the Tarland area and support local charitable projects and activities.
Annual Financial Statements
Doug Fowlie DL
Group Captain William Gibson MBE, RAF (Retd)
Sarah Mackie DL
Professor Gordon Masterton OBE, DL
Jamie Montgomery DL
Dr Becky Smithson
Commodore Charles Stevenson CBE, RN
Chief Executive Officer:
Rear Admiral Chris Hockley CBE, DL
Business Manager & Douneside House Director: Gillian Currie
Charity Manager & Executive Assistant to the CEO: Alison Donaldson
Estate Manager: Simon Power
Head of Gardens: Stephen McCallum
Our Trustees have a variety of experience and backgrounds, which reflect the wide spectrum of The Trust’s interests and are carefully selected for their range of skills and knowledge.
Four organisations: the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Poppyscotland (previously the Earl Haig Fund), Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland, carry Trustee nomination rights in recognition of the links The MacRobert Trust has with the organisations concerned.