Inside Merchants House – with May Storrie CBE, Vice Dean


May Storrie CBE is a successful entrepreneur, here she tells us about her connections with the Merchants House

When did you first become involved with Merchants House?
In 2012 my good friend Margaret Seymour invited me to become a member, she was a director at that time. Initially I was skeptical as I viewed the Merchants House as an “old boys club”. However, I was prepared to keep an open mind and felt, since Margaret was an engineer who ran her own swimming pool company, the organisation may afford me the opportunity to network within the business community in Glasgow and beyond. And I was right! Very quickly I met many professionals and business leaders within Scotland and have enjoyed building both business relationships and friendships over the years.

You’ve had a very successful career. What was your motivation and your career highlights?
I left school at 16 to help my mother in the family business following the untimely death of my father. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a Secretarial College for three years and to be seconded to the Procurator Fiscal’s office as a junior secretary. I realised that through hard work and continuing my studies at evening classes, I was able to achieve promotion and I never looked back.

My career highlights included starting my own business and expanding throughout Scotland, eventually selling the business to Nationwide Building Society, taking up a senior position with them, being elected as the 3rd female President of the National Association of Estate Agents. I had the great honour of being awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to business and philanthropy.

How does it feel to be the first female Vice Dean in 400 years?
I was obviously greatly honoured to be asked to take up this position in such a well-respected charitable organisation. The Lord Dean, Alasdair Ronald and I work tremendously well together – he’s a forward-thinking leader and a great team player, and I have him to thank for inviting me to take on the role. Yes, 400 years is a long time to wait to have a woman in this role but I’m here now and there’s such a strong Board of Directors that I’m confident we will continue to lead the Merchants House one step further to be a more modern and relevant charity, whilst respecting our history and tradition.


If you could tell people just one thing about The Merchants House, what would it be?
Some people do not know that The Merchants House is a charity. In the past 5 years, it has donated over £2.5 million to local charities to support those in real need, and it has been helping the people of Glasgow, and further afield for 400 years. Recently grants have been awarded to food banks, mental health charities and youth and community groups. I have always believed that those of us who have been fortunate in our life and work should ‘give something back’ and our members, and those who hire our venue for weddings and events, enable the House’s charitable giving to continue.


What has been your favourite event at the House so far?
In recent years, my favourite would be the afternoon teas, Christmas mulled wine events, and I particularly enjoyed a talk from Donald Finlay QC on the topic of the trial of Madeleine Smith. It was very insightful. The House is a very sociable place and now we have online booking it’s even easier for members to get involved and support the charity.

What was the best career advice you ever received?
I was always taught to believe in myself and employ a first-rate solicitor and accountant.


Discover more about the work of The Merchants House by visiting our website, in particular our membership and grants pages.

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