Molly Forbes obituary

·3-min read

Molly Forbes, who has died aged 96, will be remembered by many as the Scottish woman who stood up to Donald Trump.

When Trump tried to buy the Forbes’ farm for his Aberdeenshire golfing resort, the family resisted. He attempted to have compulsory purchase orders taken out, saying at a press conference in 2010 that the farm was “a pigsty”, “slumlike” and “disgusting”. Molly responded with a banner across her hen shed reading: “TRUMP THE GREATEST LIAR”. Trump did not succeed in buying the farm. The golf course was opened on 10 July 2012 but the luxury hotel was never built.

I first met Molly in 2009 when I started work on You’ve Been Trumped, the first of three documentaries I made about Trump in Scotland. She appeared in all three films and I got to know her well. She was not afraid to take on the billionaire.

Born Mary Lamb in Whitecairns, Aberdeenshire, she was the daughter of James Lamb, a crofter and lorry driver, and his wife, Annie (nee Mowat). Molly grew up on the family farm speaking the local Doric dialect.

After attending Craigie school, she served as a Land Girl during the second world war, tending dairy cows.

In 1948 she married Wattie (Walter) Forbes, a sailor and salmon fisherman. They had seven children. After the war, Molly worked as a cleaner at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, then as a waitress for a company in Aberdeen. In the early 1970s, she went to Grampian Television, where she served meals to executives, celebrities and dignitaries. She worked there until 1998, when she left work to care for Wattie, who had become ill. He died the following year.

It was in 2006 that Trump purchased the 1400-acre Menie estate, which had the Forbes’ farm nestled within it, in order to build his luxury resort.

He threatened the family and other residents with compulsory purchase orders in an attempt to force them out. Despite legal challenges to the planning permissions, in which Molly was also involved, Trump was able to go ahead with constructing the golf course. Purchase orders were never made on the homes.

In 2010 I discovered while filming that Trump’s workers had cut off the water supply to the Forbes’ farm. Molly was without water in her home. I reported this to the offices of Trump International Golf Links and interviewed the chief greenkeeper about it who admitted (on camera) they had fractured a pipe to the farm. Later that afternoon, I was arrested and charged with breach of the peace by Grampian Police. The charges were later thrown out. The water pipe was eventually fixed by Molly’s son Michael.

Donald Trump later told me in an interview in New York that Molly reminded him of his own mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, who hailed from the Isle of Lewis. Molly’s own response to this was: “That just shows you. If he says I remind him of his mother, he didn’t treat her very well then.”

Molly was dignified and courageous, and wise. Drawing on her own experiences of Trump ahead of the US election in 2016 she candidly warned: “I pity America if he’s president.”

Molly continued to tend her chickens on the farm until 2019.

She is survived by her children Walter, Evelyn, Lorna, Michael, Sylvia and Shireen. Another daughter, Noreen, predeceased her.