Our Founder

Diana Ramsay AO (1926-2017)

Diana May Ramsay AO was a member of the well-known South Australian Hamilton wine-making family. Diana studied social science at the University of Adelaide and enjoyed a career in social work, she moved to Sydney in 1955 working in various hospitals. She settled in Adelaide again in 1963 with her husband James whom she married in 1960 and continued her career as a social worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Her occupation as a social worker further instilled a passion for helping people.

Diana loved playing hockey and was a member of the South Australian State Women’s Hockey team from 1945-47. Later she become a very keen golfer and was an active member of the Royal Sydney and Royal Adelaide golf clubs.

Diana was extremely proud to be the Founder of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation which was launched in December 2009. Diana passed away peacefully in August 2017.

James Ramsay AO (1923-1996)

James Stewart Ramsay AO grew up in Launceston, Tasmania, son of pioneering surgeon Sir John Ramsay CBE and Lady Ramsay. The Ramsay name is also synonymous with the famous KIWI boot polish company which was founded by James’ uncle William Ramsay, James is also the nephew of the famous artist Hugh Ramsay.

James attended Scotch College in Launceston and later Geelong College in Melbourne. James applied to become a soldier in the Australian Military forces during World War II. Whilst ill health prevented him from serving on the frontline, he was a well-respected finance officer within the Military forces. After a very happy and accomplished life, James lost his battle with cancer in 1996.

The Ramsay Legacy

It is well known that James and Diana were great admirers and benefactors to the performing and visual arts, and were also very generous in providing funds for medical scholarships, funding medical work in rural regions as well as supporting young people at risk. James and Diana made the most of their 35 years together and enjoyed travelling around the world to experience other cultures, especially to see the arts in other environments. James and Diana Ramsay were both appointed as Officers of The Order of Australia (AO) in 1992 for their extraordinary philanthropy and service to the arts and the community.

One of the most extraordinary Australian cultural gifts ever made was announced in November 2019. A $38 million bequest to the Art Gallery of South Australia from the estates of James and Diana Ramsay. The Felton Bequest was James and Diana’s inspiration for their philanthropic journey; however they would not have known at the time of pledging their gifts that their own legacy would rival the famous Felton Bequest that has been so integral to the development of the National Gallery of Victoria. The vision and foresight of James and Diana is inspiring, and such legacies made an exceptional impact on collections, careers and communities.