Lady Dufferin has died aged 79
One of Northern Ireland's best known charity figures has died after a short illness.
The death of the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, known as Lady Duffering, at the age of 79 was announced yesterday.
Lady Dufferin ran Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor in Co Down, which is one of Ireland's oldest and largest estates.
The estate paid tribute on Facebook yesterday.
“She was a friend to so many and was beloved by all,” it said.
“Painting and Clandeboye were her twin passions and we can take some solace that her last months with us allowed her to indulge both and brought her peace and happiness doing the things she enjoyed most.
“She had a fantastically full life.”
Born Serena Belinda Rosemary Guinness in Scotland, she grew up in Belvoir Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Rutland, in Leicestershire.
Her parents divorced when she was nine and both later remarried.
In 1964, she married Sheridan, Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, at Westminster Abbey in London.
Lady Dufferin, who is also known as Lindy Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, was a keen artist and shared her love with the canvass with her husband, who owned a gallery in London.
She took control of the 2,000 acre Clandeboye estate after her husband's death in 1988.
She was well known in charity circles and was active in conservation issues, which she saw a way to bring people together.
She was responsible for setting up the Conservation Volunteers, now TCV, at the estate.
With a keen eye to business, in 2009, she launched her own brand of yoghurt, the only producer in the north, at Clandleboy Estate.
She opened an art gallery and operates other businesses at the estate, which is also a wedding venue.
Alliance North Down MP Stephen Farry paid tribute last night.
“The on-going success of Clandeboye Estate, involving so many thriving enterprises such as Clandeboye Yoghurt and the popular courtyard is a great testament to Lady Dufferin's contribution to North Down, coupled with a passionate commitment to the arts and conservation,” he said.
“Encouraging the Conservation Volunteers to set-up within Clandeboye Estate in 1975 was a great initiative and forever remembered as one of many initiatives championed by Lady Dufferin.”
DUP MLA Gordon Dunne described news of her death as "very sad".
"She made a significant contribution to the local economy through her lifetime of work in agriculture, the environment and the arts, and will be greatly missed," he tweeted.
Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions there will be a private funeral at Clandeboye in accordance with Lady Dufferin's wishes.
Memorials will also be held later in both Clandeboye and London.