Remembering Dr Catherine Wills

It’s with great sadness that we must share the news that Dr Catherine Wills, a Sandford St Martin Trustee, a valued friend and colleague passed away aged 71, on 29 July 2022.

As the daughter of SSMT’s founder and a life-trustee, Catherine played a vital role in the development of the Trust and guiding our charity towards its current remit as an advocate for religious literacy and a better understanding of belief via broadcasting.

Catherine Wills with the historian and journalist Maggie Brown.

She was the epitome of a ‘renaissance woman’. An art historian, an accomplished horsewoman and breeder and a generous, energetic and enthusiastic philanthropist, despite the whirl of her many interests, Catherine was also hugely open-minded, interested in and attentive to other people. In my experience, she didn’t miss much – in fact, it’s possible she missed nothing but was too considerate to brag. She had an astonishing attention for detail and whether it was a crowded reception or a busy meeting, she seemed to pinpoint and draw out individuals or the most pertinent facts.


Catherine Wills with the broadcaster Roger Bolton.

She was hugely good company and exceedingly kind to me. I discovered belatedly that her health, which I knew had not been good, took a turn for the worse the week of our most recent annual awards ceremony. Still, she contacted me the morning after the event to congratulate me and the Trust’s Awards team, to apologise for not having been able to come and then to have a lively chat about a newly discovered link between our families. She was always pleased to make connections. Generous, supportive and inquisitive as ever, she brushed off queries about her own health and shifted the focus instead to me, the Trust and our new projects. The exchange was pure ‘Catherine’. I’ll miss her greatly as I’m sure will everyone associated with the Trust.

Anna McNamee, Executive Director


Catherine Wills with the Sandford St Martin Trustees, at Lambeth Palace in 2016.

Catherine Wills, Sandford St Martin Trustee 1992-2022.