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Sonia, Madam Hunter of Hunterston

Wife of 29th Laird of Hunterston

An appreciation

In the more than 40 years that I knew Sonia, we never exchanged a cross word, never parted on a bad note and we both could always call each other in the full knowledge there would be comfort at the end of the call. She was also joyful; I used to tease her by calling her my Entertainments Officer.

She must be the only person I know who would have reunions with people she had been at school with while in her 80s.

She kept close to everyone she met. I have been among that privileged group and I thank God for letting me benefit from the kindness and wisdom of knowing her.

We had the great privilege that we spent a lot of time holidaying and just having fun. Among it all we drew on each other's strengths and wisdom and I shall miss her dreadfully.

Sonia, who was the daughter of Brigadier Dennis Furlong, married Neil Aylmer Cochran-Patrick in 1952 and when the guardianship of the Hunterston estate was handed over to Neil in 1968, he and Sonia moved in with their seven children. Their family name changed to Hunter when he became the 29th Laird of Hunterston in 1972.

Two years later, their land was industrialised to accommodate the Hunterston B power station and they were forced out, leaving Scotland to live in Andorra. But Sonia was a grown-up; she dealt with many blows and rode above them.

She once described to me how when she and Neil left Hunterston, after they had fought and lost two public inquiries and the resulting compulsory purchase drove them away, it was as though they were going on holiday, except they were having to walk away from everyone and everything that mattered to them.

It had a devastating effect on both of them and of course on all the family. Sonia had to deal with that and she did, generously and with persistent love. She also bore the loss of Neil who died in Andorra in 1994.

Sonia, who took ill and died while passing through Paris, exuded warmth, generosity and grace and was the proud mother of Pauline, currently 30th Laird of Hunterston, Charles, Robert, Nigel, John, Angus and Richard. She was also beloved grandmother to James, Azia, Ruaraidh, Tara, Ella, Andrew, Rollo, Arthur, Christopher, Primrose and Grace.

Memorial services for Sonia will be held in Andorra, London and Largs in the spring.

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