Lady Keswick, philanthropist; born January 13, 1905, died February 17, 1998

LADY KESWICK, who died peacefully at her home, Portrack, in the Dumfriesshire parish of Holywood at the age of 93, will be remembered in Scotland mainly for her involvement with two major charity ventures.

The Holywood Trust was set up by her late husband, Sir John, in 1981 to aid disadvantaged young people aged between 15 and 25 in Dumfries and Galloway, and when he died the following year she became its chairperson, a post she held for about two years.

Her other interest was Maggie's Centre, a support organisation for cancer sufferers at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. It was the brainchild of Sir John and Lady Keswick's only child, Maggie Jencks, who planned it after she was diagnosed with the disease, though she did not live to see it opened in November, 1996. She died the previous year and her mother became patron of the trust.

Everyone who knew Lady Keswick was impressed by her kindness, generosity, sense of humour, and genuine concern for others. Despite personal traumas, she never lost her zest for living or her delight in meeting new people or telling a good story.

She was born Clare Mary Alice Cynthia Catherine Celia Elwes, a string that later made her husband decree that if they had a daughter she would have only one Christian name - Margaret. Clare, as she was known to family and friends, was brought up

in Billing, Northamptonshire, the youngest of eight children in a Catholic family. Her father was the tenor Gervase Elwes, who was killed in an accident while on a singing tour in Boston when she was 16, and her mother was Lady Winefride, daughter of the 8th Earl of Denbigh.

With her sister and six brothers she enjoyed an idyllic childhood during which she developed a love of music, acting, and the countryside. She gained a reputation as a storyteller, mimic, and brilliant letter writer, a talent that, in different circumstances, could have launched her on a career as a novelist.

Her Catholic faith, nurtured during her childhood, remained strong throughout her life and helped her to cope with personal challenges and tragedies.

She was 35 when she married John Keswick in Westminster Cathedral. He was then Minister of Economic Welfare in the wartime Government and later became political liaison officer with South-east Asia Command.

After the War, Lady Keswick joined him in Shanghai where he was with Jardine Matheson and in the early 1950s moved with him to Hong Kong where he was the company's taipan for five years. It was a hectic era during which the company's fortunes were re-established and the foundations laid for the emergence of Hong Kong as the capital of Far Eastern trade, natural successor to Shanghai, by then under communist control.

Although Lady Keswick kept

in the background, her husband acknowledged her support by referring to her in private as ''The Authority''. She was at his side as he worked, as taipan and later as president of the Sino-British Trade Council, to transform Britain's role from imperial power to trading partner. She shared his delight when he was made CMG in

1950 and KCMG in 1972. She is survived by her son-in-law and two grandchildren.