Yvonne, Lady Cochrane

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Yvonne, Lady Cochrane
Yvonne Sursock

18 May 1922
Died31 August 2020 (aged 98)
Beirut, Lebanon
OccupationPhilanthropist, social figure, activist
Spouse(s)Sir Desmond Cochrane, 3rd Baronet

Yvonne, Lady Cochrane (née Sursock; 18 May 1922 – 31 August 2020) was a Lebanese philanthropist, social figure, advocate of the arts, and a member of the prominent Sursock family. She died on 31 August 2020, from injuries sustained in the Beirut explosion on 4 August 2020.[1]

Personal life[]

She was born on 18 May 1922, in Naples, Italy.[2] She was the only daughter of Alfred Bey Sursock, a Lebanese aristocrat, and Donna Maria Theresa Serra di Casino, the daughter of Francesco Serra, 7th Duke of Casino.[3] Her father owned thousands of tracts of land which included much of Jezreel Valley, the Western Galilee, Haifa, and Jaffa.[2]

She studied at Les Oiseaux, in southern England and was fluent in Italian, French, and Lebanese Arabic.[3] In 1946, she married Sir Desmond Cochrane, 3rd Baronet.[4] When her husband's father died, the couple inherited the Woodbrook estate outside of Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, and moved into the home in 1952. They had three sons and a daughter. The couple separated in the 1960s, and Sir Desmond Cochrane moved to Cyprus and died in 1979.[3]

After her family sold much of the land to the newly formed Israel, she retained some properties and land in the territory and embarked on a long legal battle to have her assets released from Israel after the declaration of state. She was repeatedly turned down under the Absentee's Property Law of 1950, but with added support from the then President of Lebanon, Camille Chamoun, the court ruled in her favor and financial compensation was agreed upon.[2]

She died in 2020 after sustaining injuries from the explosion in the Beirut port on August 4, 2020. Her children and grandchildren accepted a wreath and a posthumous National Order of the Cedar medal from a representative of the Lebanese president.[3]


Sursock Museum in Beirut

She was president of the committee and general manager of the Sursock Museum in Beirut from 1960 until 1966. She founded the Association for the Protection of the Natural Sites and Ancient Buildings (French: Association pour la protection des sites et anciennes demeures; APSAD) in Lebanon and was its president from 1960 until 2002.[4]

Her work focused on projects that seek to reduce Lebanese emigration and to support people in their villages of origin, by creating jobs for them in the fields of agriculture, textiles and handcrafts.[4] She was also involved in the protection of the natural environment in Lebanon and in the preservation of the country's unique architectural and cultural heritage.[4]

She was the owner of Sursock House, plus a broad swath of property along Rue Sursock, up to the trendy Rue Gouraud.[5]


  1. ^ Lady Cochrane, disparition d’une icône (in French)
  2. ^ a b c Frazer, Jenni (15 September 2020). "The Beirut blast victim, 98, who was a long-standing supporter of Zionism". jewishnews.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Lady Cochrane obituary: Glamorous jet-setter who joined the Anglo-Irish elite". The Irish Times. 12 September 2020. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Lady Cochrane Sursock: Information and Much More from Answers.com
  5. ^ (in French) Gemmayzeh : is the quarter becoming 'less and less convivial'?

Further reading[]

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