Lord Lieutenant Iona McDonald OBE – 13 August 2109

Recently-retired Sheriff and current Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire & Arran, Iona McDonald, was the very welcome guest speaker at our special meeting in the Brig o’ Doon hotel, Alloway. The also-very-welcome, warm, evening sun shone on the garden of the hotel where members and guests had gathered prior to the formalities.


Ex-Sherriff Iona was born in Irvine and educated at Cumnock Academy, before graduating from Glasgow University with her law degree. Following a junior career with law firms in both Glasgow and Ayr, attaining a partnership with the latter, she began her judicial career in 1994 and was eventually appointed Senior Sheriff at Kilmarnock in 2007.

In 2013, Iona was appointed Deputy Lieutenant, and eventually Lord Lieutenant, for Ayrshire & Arran by HM the Queen in 2017. In 2019 she was awarded an OBE for services to law.

After briefly describing her upbringing (her dad was an Ayrshire miner), Iona admitted that she had been attracted to court work because she enjoyed a good argument. She described her earlier court days with some affection despite the frequently squalid conditions and the attitudes, in these early days, to young female court lawyers. Shen then recounted a number of personal experiences in some of the provincial courts within her jurisdiction, including one where the judge insisted on referring to her as “hen”.

A lord-lieutenant is the British monarch’s personal representative in each county of the United Kingdom and is now an honorary titular position usually awarded to a retired notable person in the particular county. Originally this was likely to have been a member of the aristocracy but that is no longer the case. He or she represents the monarch at functions and ceremonies in their area. It is their foremost duty to uphold the dignity of the Crown and in so doing they seek to promote a spirit of co-operation and good atmosphere through the time they give to voluntary and benevolent organisations and through the interest they take in the business and social life of their counties. They are responsible for advising on honours nominations and Iona urged the Rotary members to consider potential candidates for nominations. She believed one of her principal duties was to encourage civic pride and community spirit and to promote all aspects of local culture and heritage.

Jimmy Begg, himself a New Cumnock boy, thanked Iona for her interesting presentation and her good company.