History of the Lunch

The Women of Scotland Lunch was founded in 1958 by Bill and May Hamp-Hamilton – he a newspaper and shipping executive, she a teacher – the Women of Scotland Luncheon, as it was then called, was designed to draw together a cross-section of influential women in Scotland ‘to celebrate their success in many and varied endeavours’ which in those days was very often in the face of traditional disapproval.

Nowadays our guests still continue to be just that – ladies who are achievers in their own field or who have special qualities or talents. May continued to be involved in the lunch for the next 35 years until she and Bill were tragically killed in a car accident.     

We have supported a wide range of charities, often medically associated and most of them touching the lives of us all in some way. It is good to know that our support for each charity has not only been financial, but has also helped to raise awareness of their work.

Women of Scotland

Over the years our guest speakers have educated and inspired us with their vast range of life experiences. We have welcomed ladies as diverse as Ena and Audrey Baxter, Winnie Ewing, Mamie and Sally Magnusson, Jean Muir CBE, Kirsty Wark, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, The Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini QC and Muriel Gray.

Our 2014 lunch sparkled with author Val McDermid, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland the Rt Reverend Lorna Hood and Alison Johnstone MSP.

In 2015 we were joined by Louise MacDonald OBE, Miss Lorna Marson a kidney surgeon at Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, Reverend Sarah Ross and author Dame Jacqueline Wilson photographed above along with our  Honorary Chair Viv Lumsden. Our chosen charity was Kidney Research UK.

We have listened with rapt attention to experts from the worlds of academia, haute cuisine, the judiciary, cosmetics, the Salvation Army, pharmaceuticals, fashion, politics, interior design, show jumping, fine art, the armed and prison services, nursing and medical, the arts and atomic energy, to list but a few.

The themes for our speakers are often challenging and have included ‘In a man’s world’, ‘Go for It’, ‘Achieving and Living’, Responding to Responsibility’, ‘A Degree of Tension’, ‘The Challenge of Change’, and ‘Expectations of Reality’.

In 2016 the theme was Sing as if no one is listening to reflect the fact that we were supporting Music in Hospitals Scotland, a smaller charity who do so much good with their concerts across the country. Our guests were entranced by Rev Sarah Ross who sang grace for us, engaged by Elaine C Smith who entertained us (with the help of our sponsor Tunnocks!) and most interested in what Linda Urquhart OBE had to say on her business life.

The programme has changed little since it was first thought of some 60 years ago but our guests enjoy the opportunity of creating new and interesting companionships and always create a convivial atmosphere.

We would love our lunch to continue to grow in popularity and impact as a tribute to all the inspirational women who have contributed to it.

You can get in touch with us here hello@wosl.co.uk if you would like to be added to the invitation list.

Women of Scotland


Here is a list of speakers who have entertained us in the past


Isobel Fraser Guest Chair
Jackie Kay MBE FRSE
The Calendar Girls – Angela Knowles, Tricia Stewart and Christine Clancy
Laura Boyd
Viv Lumsden Guest Chair
Diane Goldberg
Prof Dame Sue Black
The Rt Hon Ruth Davidson
Viv Lumsden Guest Chair
Elaine C Smith
Linda Urquhart OBE
Dr Susan Shenkin
Viv Lumsden Guest Chair
Dame Jacqueline Wilson
Miss Lorna Marson
Louise MacDonald OBE
Viv Lumsden Guest Chair
Rt.  Reverend Lorna Hood
Val McDermid
Alison Johnstone MSP
Viv Lumsden Guest Chair
Professor Louise Richardson
Maggie McEleny MBE replaced by speaker for SIS
Jo Swinson MP
Shereen Nanjiani, Guest chair
Candia McWilliam
Christina McKelvie MSP
Professor Anne Glover
Viscountess Younger of Leckie- Jenny Younger – finance
Dame Stella Rimington – sadly had to withdraw but was replaced by Kate Adie
Vicky Featherstone
Professor Fiona Gilbert
Fiona Armstrong – Presenter
Lt Col Lynn Adam – dropped out due to election
Chief Constable Norma Graham – Police
Lesley Riddoch – journalist
Sheena McDonald – Broadcaster
Annabel Goldie MSP
Barbara Hudson – Scottish Director of the Association for Fostering and Adoption
Liz Lochhead – poet and writer
Linda Fabiani MSP (Minister Europe, External Affairs & Culture)
Dr. Sally Beamish (Composer)
Laura Kuennsberg (BBC Political correspondent)
Hannah Gordon (Guest Chair)
Shonaig Macpherson (Chairman NTS),
Barbara Dickson 
Maggie Cunningham
Donalda McKinnon (Head of BBC Scotland)
Kaye Adams Guest Chair
Dr. Mona Siddiqui (Head of Theology & Religious studies),
Muriel Gray
Kathleen Marshall (Commissioner for Children)
Bridget McConnell, (Guest Chair)
Anne Richards (Chief Investment Officer Aberdeen Asset Management)
Mary Contini (cookery expert – Valvona & Crolla),
Sheila McLean (Professor of Law & Ethics in Medicine)
Sally Magnusson, (Guest Chair)
Elish Angiolini (Solicitor General)
Belinda Robertson (cashmere designer)
Margaret Barr (Asst. Chief Constable)
Sally McNair (broadcaster), (Guest Chair)
Baroness Helena Kennedy
Chris Clyne (fashion designer)
Hilary Mackenzie (war journalist)
Kirsty Wark, (Guest Chair)
Baroness Linklater
Audrey Park (prison governor)
Colette Douglas Home


Joanna Service (Guest Chair)
Frances Cairncross (Economist)
Henrietta Dundas Bekker
Polyanna Murray International skier


Lady Macdonald of Macdonald (Guest Chair)
Jennifer Bryson  (International catering association)
Sandra Murray (Dress designer)
Christine Glover(President of the Royal Pharaceutical Society of GB)


Countess of Wemyss and March (Guest Chair)
Professor Mary Marshall (Director of Dementia Centre, Stirling University)
Ms Seona Reid (Director of Scottish Arts Council)
Mrs Elizabeth McAreavey (Businesswoman of the Year)


Dr Anne Lorne Gillies (Guest Chair)
The Honourable Lady Cosgrove
Nina Campbell
Dr. Sheila Wilson


Mrs Grant of Rothiemurcus
Maree Leslie
Mamie Baird Magnusson
Dr. Merle Friedman


Lady Edmonstone (Guest Chair)
Susannah Stone
Lesley Bale
Clare Francis


Mrs Martha Steedman (Guest Chair)
Dr. Jean Balfour
Emma Ford
Eileen Gallagher


The Countess of Strathmore (Guest Chair)
Dr. Janice Webster
Catherine Maxwell-Stuart
Mollie Jackson


Lady Marion Fraser (Guest Chair)
The Countess of Dalkeith
Dr. Morag Timbury
Mrs C Roads


The Countess of Moray (Guest Chair)
Maud Menzies
Elaine Ross
Maureen Thomison


Group Captain Elizabeth Sandison (Guest Chair)
Margaret Seymour
Su Wood
Joan Short


Bridgadier Meechie (Guest Chair)
Audrey Baxter
Isabel Robertson
Netta Martin


Lady Fraser JP (Guest Chair)
Joyce Deans
Iris Munro
Judith Livingston


Lady Strange
Maureen Tomison
Barbara Davidson
Rona Simpson


Lady Mariota Napier (Guest Chair)
Jean Muir
Mary Lindsay
Pat Duckworth


Air Commodore Helen Renton (Guest Chair)
Nicky Joyce
Aileen Taylor
Dorthy Park


Viscountess Arbuthnott (Guest Chair)
Janet Nortman
Lady Macdonald of Macdonald
Moira Meighan


Her Grace the Duchess of Buccleuch (Guest Chair)
Her Honour Judge Jean Graham Hall
Dr. Joan Macnab
Martha Crawford


Her Grace The Duchess of Argyll (Guest Chair)
Joyce Waugh
Dorothy Whamond
Margaret Rose


Her Grace the Duchess of Roxburghe (Guest Chair)
Wendy Keith
Lisbeth Thoms
Mary Meredith


Lady Moncrieff of Tullibole (Guest Chair)
Professor Elizabeth Perrot
Helen Turnbull
Dr. Mary Dawson


Commandant Vonia McBridge (Guest Chair)
Mariona Harris
Commissioner Eva Burrows
Margaret Hewit O.B.E.


Countess of Mansfield (Guest Chair)
Annette Yarrow
Dr. Sally Solomon
Garnor Winyard
Her Grace the Duchess of Roxburghe


Countess of Moray (Guest Chair)
Celia Jones
Dorothy Lawrie
Peter Howden


Lady Rotherwick (Guest Chair)
Nancy McConkey
Elizabeth Thomson
Bridget Raynes


Lady Clydesmuir (Guest Chair)
Mariona Scatcherd
Professor Anne Robertson
Maud Menzies


Lady Jean Wemyss (Guest Chair)
Dorthy Crawford
Jean Kinmond
Netta Martin


Brigadier Helen Cattanach (Guest Chair)
Kay Farquhar
Murtle Simspon
Jeanette Williamson


The Hon Mrs Jean Bruce of Glen Tanar (Guest Chair)
Francis Wolsey- Neech
Esme Murray-Speakman
Kirsteen Borland


Lady Jean Fforde (Guest Chair)
Joan Cambridge
Sheina Marshall
Janet Todd


Countess of Cromartie (Guest Chair)
Jean Balfour of Balbirnie
Ena Baxter
Sheila MacDonnell


Countess of Dalhouse (Guest Chair)
Bailie Mrs Anna S Douglas
Mrs Murray User of Cally
Winifred Shand M.B.E.


Lady Muriel Barclay- Harvey (Guest Chair)
Her Grace the Duchess of Argyll
Lady Georgina Coleridge
Brigadier Gordon


Lady Muriel Barclay- Harvey (Guest Chair)
Nancy Sanders
Elsie Lumsden
Winifred Ewing


Countess of Dundee (Guest Chair)
Marchioness of Lothian
Miss E Willis
Helen McConnochie
Countess of Haddington (Guest Chair)
Lady Brocklehurst
M.M. Reid
Lady Weipers


Countess of Elgin (Guest Chair)
Margaret Drummond O.B.E.
E.M. Rennie
Anne Gillies


The Countess of Eglinton and Winton (Guest Chair)
Wishart Campbell
M.E. Perrins


The Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon (Guest Chair)
Margaret Havinden
Mrs Eric Linklater
Gena Mackinnon


The Countess of Airlie (Guest Chair)
Dr. Camilla Hay Gillies
Muriel Smith
Mrs Donald Main
Jean Twiddy


The Countess of Minton O.B.E. (Guest Chair)
Lady Johnson-Gilbert
Lady Maclean of duart
Marian McNeill
Colonel Elspeth Hobkirk C.B.E., T.D.


The Lady Ruth Balfour of Balbirnie  C.B.E., M.B., B.S.(Guest Chair)
Helen Crerar
Anne Mitchell
Kathleen Garscadden
The Marchioness of Huntly


The Marchioness of Bute (Guest Chair)
Diana Bowes -Lyon
Roma Fairley
Margaret Gerbison M.P., M.A.
Isobel Sinclair B.L., M.A.


Kathleen Elliot C.B.E., C.C.
Eleanor Macdonald B.A., M.B.E.
Mary George M.B.E.