Lord Paul and Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree will receive the Westmont Medal during graduation ceremonies 10 a.m. May 3 on Russell Carr Field.
The Westmont Medal is given each year to recognize those in our community whose lives embody the very principles associated with the Christian character of the college: integrity, service, compassion, responsibility, faithfulness, discipline and generosity.
The Ridley-Trees have been deeply involved in the community and have given significant gifts over the years to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara City College, Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara Zoo, Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Dream Foundation, Santa Barbara Symphony, Girls Inc. and the Community Kitchen, just to name a few.
“Philanthropy is a very important and joyful part of my life,” Leslie Ridley-Tree told the Santa Barbara News-Press Woman Magazine in 1999. “If you get a letter from a girl who says “”I live in two rooms with my mother and 10 children, and I’m the first to go to college, and I’m graduating to be a nurse,”” “that’s what you hope for. You’ve lifted someone so that they can do better work.”
Paul Ridley-Tree added: She (Leslie) believes in sharing. She says, “”If we don’t share, then we don’t deserve to have. We’re blessed. If there’s a need there, we’ll try to do it.””
The Ridley-Trees own an aircraft parts company in Santa Monica, and have lived in Santa Barbara more than a dozen years. Art and education are their greatest passions, and the couple has established more than 120 scholarships at different educational institutions.
Few non-profits in Santa Barbara have not benefited from the Ridley-Trees? generosity. But Mrs. Ridley-Tree is known for jumping in and helping beyond writing a check.
When the Museum of Art faced a large deficit, she took over as president for more than three years and turned its fortunes around. Part of that effort included bringing the successful and stunning exhibit of China’s stone soldiers to the museum in the late 1990s.
In addition, Mrs. Ridley-Tree reads for the blind and works tirelessly on the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s Amethyst Ball each year. The Ridley-Trees’ philanthropic efforts truly reflect an exceptional selflessness and love for their community and the people who live here.
This will mark the eighth year that the Westmont Medal has been given. Past recipients are Larry Crandell, Penny Jenkins, Dr. Ramon Vidauri of Ensenada, Mexico, Anita Mackey, Stewart and Katherine Abercrombie, Betty Rosness and Peter MacDougall.
Approximately 325 students are expected to graduate from Westmont on May 3. Lisa Beamer, wife of 9-11 hero Todd Beamer and author of ‘Let?s Roll,’ the story of United Flight 93, is the commencement speaker. Commencement is open to the public, but seating is limited.