Alan Rae, whose health food shop was a fixture on Holburn Street, Aberdeen, for 39 years, has died aged 72.
He opened Nature’s Larder with wife Marlene in 1977 after learning to successfully control his Crohn’s disease by eating whole foods.
The couple’s mission to increase the availability of whole foods in the city led them to provide advice to, and get to know, generations of families across the north-east.
Alan had had to give up his job as a panel beater when he was 19 because of Crohn’s but by monitoring on his diet, he was able to launch his business career.
He was born in Aberdeen in January 1951 to John Rae, a foreman with the harbour board, and his wife, Elizabeth (Dalton), a chambermaid.
A lifelong Dons fan, Alan enjoyed playing football at St Peter’s School, King Street. When he completed his education, he trained as a panel beater only for his career to be halted by the onset of Crohn’s.
It was then he began to focus on his diet and research and source whole foods.
Such was his success he was able to return to work, this time as a delivery driver for a group of laundrettes.
Alan had met Marlene when he was 18 and she was 16 at the Royal Hotel, just off Bridge Street, Aberdeen. They married in August 1974 and went on to have two of a family; Debra, now 48, and Richard, who is 39.
Marlene said her husband learnt so much about whole foods and diet that they decided to go into business on their own account.
“Alan was 26 when we decided to open Nature’s Larder and the decision was based around his experiences of buying whole foods to control his diet,” said Marlene.
” I worked in the shop myself for the first six months and Alan kept on his delivery job. Alan then came to work in the shop as we got busier.
“We had the shop for 39 years, employing different staff over time and also our own children in their teenage years.
” It was a wonderful experience getting to know different generations over the years. Alan had such a passion and was able to give so many people help and information.”
The couple gave up the shop in 2016 to begin retirement in a new home in the Countesswells area.
In 2019, Alan and Marlene had a holiday to Seville but during lockdown, Alan’s illness returned.
“He became ill again in 2022. He had an operation but was never the same again so it was not much of a retirement for Alan after a very hard working life.”
Although Alan had to give up going to Pittodrie when he opened Nature’s Larder, his shop was busy on a Saturday when customers dropped by to join him in listening to matches on the radio.
A keen chess player, Alan was also grandfather to Lara, Zack, Demi and Naomi.
You can read the family’s announcement here.