2023 A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures Honoring Judy Murray
Tartan-clad philanthropists assembled at the Metropolitan Club on April 20 to celebrate Scottish heritage, raising more than $350,000 to support the work of Scotland’s largest conservation charity. The National Trust for Scotland cares for more than 100 iconic places, including Culloden Battlefield, the islands of St Kilda and Iona, and Robert Burns’s birthplace.
The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA hosts the A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures gala each April. With members across all fifty states, NTSUSA encourages Americans to protect Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage now and for generations to come.
The evening featured a cocktail hour with whisky tastings by The Macallan and traditional Scottish folk music. Alasdair Nichol, chairman of Freeman’s auction house and a frequent appraiser on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, charmed 200 guests with his recitation of Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” before dinner and auctioned eight live lots, including a cruise aboard the Hebridean Princess, after dessert.
The highlight of the gala was the presentation of the 2023 Great Scot award to tennis icon and philanthropist Judy Murray OBE. Murray is a highly accomplished athlete and coach. As Scottish National Coach and Captain of the British Federation Cup, Murray grew the profile, numbers, and standard of female players, coaches, and sports scientists across Great Britain. Murray is also known by many as the mother of Grand Slam champions Sir Andy Murray and Jamie Murray.
In presenting Murray with the Great Scot award, Helen Sayles CBE, chair of NTSUSA’s Board of Trustees, remarked, “Judy is a powerful champion of sport and changing the lives of young people.”
Murray inspired the crowd with her personal story of hard work and dedication. Despite son Andy Murray’s advice of “Don’t be funny,” Murray shared her path to success through perseverance with humor and humility, motivating gala attendees in a way only a world-class coach could accomplish.
Murray continues to advocate for improving opportunities for tennis across Scotland, fostering inclusivity and community engagement. Her final project is the building of The Murray Tennis and Golf Centre near Dunblane which will provide Scotland with a facility of national significance from which to showcase and grow both sports.
Murray generously donated a stay at Cromlix, her family’s five-star country house hotel in Dunblane, including the opportunity to play golf at Gleneagles and tennis on Falkland Palace’s 16th-century tennis court with her, to the evening’s live auction.
Following Murray’s acceptance speech, Nichol encouraged the audience to “raise a racket” in support of Scottish wildcats, a species on the brink of extinction. Since 2018 a program of captive breeding has been underway, and this year wildcats will be released into the wild, including in the Cairngorms, home of the Trust’s majestic Mar Lodge Estate. Guests pledged support that would allow enable the Trust to purchase a GPS collar to track a wildcat; feed a cat for a year; or provide vaccinations against disease.
Kirstin Bridier, executive director of NTSUSA, noted, ”It’s wonderful to hear Judy Murray talk about community, because everyone in this room tonight is part of this wonderful community that we’ve created, of people who love Scotland and are passionate about protecting its heritage and natural beauty today and on behalf of future generations.”
In true Scottish fashion, the evening culminated in a cèilidh led by Christopher Gow and Nan Chisolm of the New York Scottish Ball. At the end of the night, guests joined hands to sing Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne.