AN Innerleithen woman who was named in the New Year’s Honours list has died – just four days after receiving an OBE from the Queen.

Tessa Tennant, of Glen House, passed away from ovarian cancer aged 59 on Saturday, July 7.

In an “amazing show of determination” Tessa managed to travel to Holyrood that week, along with husband Bill and her family, for the prestigious ceremony to honour her services to sustainable investment.

Fiona Martynoga, a friend of Tessa’s from Traquair, paid tribute to the ‘pioneer in green growth’: “She was well known locally as a generous hostess who threw open the house doors to all her neighbours for lively estate teas. But few will have known what a significant player she was in her professional world.”


Tessa (Teresa) Tennant was one of the earliest graduates in Human Environmental Studies from King’s College, London, writes Fiona Martynoga.

Realising, even then in the early ’80s, that economic growth was depleting and polluting the world, she went directly to work for the Green Alliance, as a pioneer in ‘green growth’. From there she went on to co-found the first green investment fund, the Merlin (now called the Jupiter) Fund.

Tessa’s career developed in the new realm of Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI), a concept that she took to the far east in an enterprise she called ASRIA (Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia).

She was a lone woman in a then very male-dominated world, urging a very different way of looking at business. That took forethought and bravery, qualities she displayed in so many enterprises.

An example is in the run-up to pension reform, when she confronted the Minister for Pensions. Through her face-to-face urging, a clear policy on SRI now appears on every Pension Fund statement.

Another initiative was to co-found and become the first chair of the Ice Organisation, which rewards low-carbon consumerism. Her service as a board member of many other not-for-profit organisations, included being Non-executive Director of The Green Investment Bank (now the Green Investment Group).

She achieved all this with flair and bouncy enthusiasm, which made her stand out in a formal world and earned her the immense respect of her colleagues.

She has recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from them, an accolade that will bear her name when awarded in the future.

Tessa was concerned that all forces should be mobilised in the run-up to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. She saw that faith groups were not sufficiently active and so initiated the advocacy group Our Voices, which embraced every major faith world-wide.

As well as making a direct appeal to the Pope, she got groups of people all over the world to make a special pilgrimage to bring climate change into everyone’s consciousness.

One band of pilgrims walked from Traquair Kirk to Traquair House over the hills. Tessa’s son Euan Tennant and grandchildren, William and Ruby, were part of it but she herself was in St Peter’s Square, where the Pope thanked Our Voices for their role.

Tessa was sad to have missed that walk. She loved the Border Hills and the lush beauty of the Glen.

She had first come there after 1983 when she married Henry Tennant, son of Lord Glenconner and their son Euan, was born. The couple did not stay together for very long but they never divorced.

When Henry died in 1991, Tessa, with her mother, Jean Cormack, came to live at Glen. Unknown to most, the house hosted many a high-powered green think-tank – often round the kitchen table, as was Tessa’s style.

In 2007 Tessa married Bill Staempfli, an American architect with a well-developed interest in sustainable building.

He helped her to turn more attention to Glen, improving cottages and welcoming people annually through the Gardens Open scheme.

The bravery which had characterised her professional life extended into Tessa’s encounter with cancer.

Six years ago she was laid low after two operations to remove tumours. She quickly rallied and resumed full commitments.

When the cancer returned last year she stalwartly accepted it and threw herself into enjoying the people and the place around her.

In a last, amazing, show of determination, and with the help of Bill and her family, she got to Holyrood on July 3 to receive her OBE from the Queen.

She died on July 7, leaving a big hole in the social fabric of Glen.