Skip to main content

Fellow-Commoner Lorna Williamson reflects on her journey and ongoing commitment to Lucy Cavendish College.

"I was immediately hooked," said Lorna Williamson OBE, describing her first visit as a Fellow to Lucy Cavendish College in the mid-1990s. "This was a place where I felt at home...". Drawn to the College's atmosphere and mission, Lorna has been a supporter ever since.

From her childhood in manufacturing-focused Central Scotland, the first in her family to pursue higher education, Lorna set her sights on the medical field. "I had known from the age of 12 that I wanted to be a doctor..." she recalls.

A place at the prestigious University of Edinburgh led to a career in haematology. It was her specialisation in transfusion medicine – a world of donors, bio-manufacturing, and a staggeringly diverse patient population – that truly sparked her passion.

Lorna's academic contributions accompanied a move to Cambridge, where she became a University Lecturer in Transfusion Medicine – a groundbreaking venture combining university research with vital NHS work. Alongside navigating motherhood in the 1990s, her research focus became twofold: improving transfusion practice and the safety of transfusions themselves in an era of emerging infections.

Her expertise ultimately led her to become national Medical and Research Director for NHS Blood and Transplant. Though this meant giving up her direct Fellowship, she happily returned to Lucy Cavendish as a Fellow-Commoner upon retirement in 2016.

“I am passionate about equality of opportunity, so am delighted that Lucy Cavendish remains committed to levelling the playing field for people of exceptional talent from whatever background. I have given talks to STEMM students on organ transplantation, and hope to meet more students and Fellows in the coming months.”

Outside of academia, Lorna finds joy in singing, a passion she picked up in retirement. “I have been very fortunate in having Katharina Megli, Director of the Lucy Cavendish Singers, as my teacher- she is extraordinary! I hugely enjoy choral singing, locally with the Orsino Singers, and further afield at workshops. During covid, I also joined a global on-line choir, Choir of the Earth, a great community of singers.” 

Lorna also enjoys the countryside, walking, and bird-watching.

We're delighted to have such a remarkable individual as Lorna back within the Lucy Cavendish community. Her contributions to medicine, her passion for equality, and her diverse interests make her a true inspiration for us all.