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Family’s tribute to former Fraserburgh and New Deer landlady, 99-year-old Gina Gove

The retired Woodend nurse also operated an Aberdeen B&B and was a founding member of cancer charity CLAN.

Mother-of-three Gina Gove whose hard work and passion for life continued into her 100th year.
Mother-of-three Gina Gove whose hard work and passion for life continued into her 100th year.

Former Broch pub landlady, Aberdeen bed and breakfast owner and retired Woodend auxiliary nurse Georgina Gove has died aged 99.

One of the founding members of Cancer Link Aberdeen North (CLAN), Gina was known for her zest for life and love of walking into her 90s.

Old Torry born

Georgina – always known as Gina – was born on December 12, 1923, in Old Torry. Daughter of trawler fisherman George Bruce and his wife Margaret (née Innes), Gina was the fourth of six children for the couple who raised their young family on Ferry Road.

Gina attended Victoria Road School and then Walker Road Primary when the family moved.  From there she progressed to Torry Intermediate School but left at 14.

For five shillings a week, Gina found work stitching the holes between the fingers of hand gloves. A few other jobs followed including working in a fish box factory.

In 1940 Gina’s oldest brother John was killed in action while on a ship on the Atlantic. Gina left work to remain home to look after her mother. Her father also gave up sea work for a time to be nearer home.

Love and marriage

Living in a tight-knit community meant friendships formed across garden fences.

Shortly after losing her brother, Gina met fish filleter, Doug Gove.

His back yard connected with hers and they got to know one another as part of a large group of friends.

Young love: Gina and Doug Gove in the early days of their relationship.

It would be another few years before a romance would blossom, however, because in 1941 Gina was called up to help with the war effort.

It meant a move away from home. Sharing digs with three other young women she began work as a grinder in a Fraserburgh’s munitions factory known as “the Toolies”, making small parts for aeroplanes.

On August 14, 1944, Doug and Gina tied the knot in St Fittick’s Church.

The Goves on their wedding day in 1944.

For three years they lived in her mother’s front room but when their first child, Douglas, was born in 1947 they rented a flat in Huntly Street.

House moves

A year later the young family uprooted in what would be the first of many moves, to set up home in Thurso. Doug had found work as a manager of a seafood factory and after a couple of years, they returned to their flat in Aberdeen, which they had sublet.

Their next house move took them to the prefabs in Hayton and Doug started his own business selling fish from a horse and cart. In 1951 daughter Patricia was born.

“From the shared house with her parents, to the tiny flat… they were in seventh heaven when they moved to Gordon’s Mills Road in Hayton. They had a kitchen and proper bathroom there at last,” said Jane Dewar, Gina’s daughter.

By the mid 1950s Doug’s job meant another move for the family, this time to Inverbervie. While he worked for St Clair Fisheries, Gina and the children lived next door to the factory in “Linty Mill”, by the river.

In 1957 when their second daughter Jane came along they moved to Townhead. Doug was employed by the seafood factory until 1960, after which they returned to Aberdeen and he started a country fish round, this time by van.

Gina the landlady

With a three-year-old, a nine-year-old and a young teenager at home, Gina made the most of their granite villa on Stonehaven Road by opening a bed and breakfast. Popular with returning holidaymakers year after year, Eldoran, was a thriving business.

After seven years the couple opted for a change of pace and purchased the Earl of Aberdeen Arms – known as The Howe in New Deer.

Living and working in the busy premises resulted in a relentless workload for the couple.

After three years they sold up and bought the Mariner’s Bar in Fraserburgh. Less cooking and an opportunity to run her own cocktail bar made it a more appealing proposition. It would only be a couple of years for change to come calling again, however.

Purpose from pain

In 1972 they moved to Aberdeen’s Murray Terrace and shortly after Gina started working as an auxiliary nurse in Woodend Hospital.

“Mum really loved nursing, she loved working with the older people on ward four but it was very heavy work,” said Jane. “I think in another life she would have been a fully qualified nurse, and she would have been very, very good at it.”

Gina Gove pictured during her auxiliary nursing days.

Gina continued at Woodend until she retired in 1982 age 59.

Finding a new lease of life she made the most of her free time joining a ramblers club and joining a Swedish exercise class.

When tragedy struck in 1985 Gina used it as an opportunity to help others.

“My sister Trish passed away in her 30s leaving behind two little boys. Trish asked mum to find out about and help others with cancer. As a result, mum was one of the founding members of Clan – Cancer Link Aberdeen North,” said Jane.

“She regularly worked in the charity’s shop on Justice Mill Lane.”

Latter years

In 1989 Gina and Doug moved to Redmoss Park in Nigg. She enjoyed walking and going on holiday with the Kaimhill Strollers, and she and Doug liked walking in the Gramps with their rescue dog Kieran.

Happy memories of Doug and Gina Gove with their dog Kieran.

On August 8 2004, just four days before their diamond wedding anniversary Doug died following a cardiac infraction.

Although a huge adjustment, Gina was determined to live independently for as long as possible. She did so until the age of 97. However, in 2021 she moved into Jane’s home in Bieldside.

Asked the secret to her long and healthy life for a magazine article in 2017 Gina remarked that she cooked everything from scratch and avoided processed food.

Final farewell

Gina passed away at Jane’s home on April 19.

“She would have been 100 in December,” added Jane.

“We have such lovely memories of mum. When dad died she kind of picked up where he left off, telling stories and entertaining us all. Always the one to look after all of us, even if she asked us to come and help her with something, she would have the kettle on to make us tea.

Gina Gove celebrating her 95th birthday.

“She was a kind and remarkable woman, still exercising into her 90s; still enjoying looking out the window at the birds and squirrels. She came a long way from that young woman making parts for aeroplanes.”

Gina is survived by Jane and Doug, and their families. She was a grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of eight.

A celebration of her life took place on Friday, April 28 at Aberdeen Crematorium’s East Chapel.

You can read the family’s announcement here.