23 October 2017

“We would not have made it as far as we have without her”; staff pay tribute to patron Princess Marina Sturdza 

Princess Marina Sturdza, Patron, Hope and Homes for Children

Princess Marina Sturdza, Patron, Hope and Homes for Children

Hope and Homes for Children’s staff and supporters have been sharing their sadness and remembering the contribution of Princess Marina Sturdza, who died on Sunday.

“Marina’s on-going commitment, very often quietly and always with great dignity behind the scenes, has enabled us to transform the lives of thousands of children who are now enjoying the love and protection of a family”, said CEO, Mark Waddington. “And this is not only in Romania and Moldova, but in many more countries around the world,” he added.

Fellow patron, Lady Gail Jopling wrote, “Marina is truly irreplaceable and will be much missed.  We are privileged to have been colleagues and friends of hers.”

Princess Marina, who was descended from Romanian royalty, grew up in exile in Canada. She had a successful career as a fashion journalist and business leader before devoting her time to supporting charities that help children and the terminally ill.

She returned to Romania in the early 1990s, after the fall of Communism, and became actively involved in the early days of Hope and Homes for Children’s work to close orphanages and find families for children.

Stefan Darabus, our Regional Director, Central & Southern Europe, remembered how Princess Marina helped to overcome fierce opposition to our pioneering programmes in Romania.

“Princess Marina came with Mark and Caroline Cook and said she would do whatever was in her powers to make the authorities understand that children in state care needed to grow up in a family. Not institutions. She talked to them and through her kindness, her candour and authenticity she won their hearts and minds” he said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that we would not have made it as far as we have without her,” added Mark Waddington.

Patron Claire Wright wrote to remember Princess Marina’s warmth and humour.

“One of my fondest memories was the first day we met”, Claire said. “It was at a Hope and Homes for Children event, in the loos with Caroline Cook, putting my lippy on and, in my inimitable diplomatic style, I said to Caroline, laughing, “So where’s this ‘ere princess then? Do I need to curtsy or what?” And a voice came out of one of the loos, “She’s in here and a handshake will do fine!” Before I could die of embarrassment, Marina came out with a great beaming smile on her face and warmly greeted me. I was smitten!”

“Marina was always so modest, unassuming, fun and kind. She will be sorely missed”, Claire added.

Stefan Darabus summed up the feeling of all those at Hope and Homes for Children who knew Princess Marina.

“She had so much to offer to the world, and especially to her home country, Romania”, he said. “She offered us her mind, her heart, her ideas, presence and support. If you want a definition of a life lived to the benefit of others, then Princess Marina’s would be exactly that,” Stefan concluded.