THOUSANDS of the East Kilbride area’s senior citizens have good reason to mourn the passing of pensioners’ stalwart Anne Gibb, who died last week.
For a period stretching more than 30 years, this selfless lady dedicated her life to making sure the area’s senior citizens enjoyed themselves.
From dinner dances to summer outings, Burns suppers to Christmas treats and caravan holidays to the popular annual talent show, Anne worked tirelessly behind the scenes – until the ravages of Parkinson’s disease forced her reluctantly to quit last year.
And the void she has left will be felt by many.
Among the many people who contacted the News to express sorrow at her passing was former Provost Russell Clearie, a frequent guest at the many events Anne organised.
Expressing his condolences to her immediate family, Councillor Clearie said Anne would be “greatly missed” and that he felt “privileged” to have known and worked with her, her husband Sandy and the other members of the local branch of Age Concern.
He said: “Over the nine years we worked in partnership, I found Anne’s commitment to her local community absolutely outstanding.
“The amount of enjoyment she brought to various senior citizens groups through the summer outings, Christmas dinners, Burns suppers and other events she organised, cannot be measured.
“Nor can the work she did fundraising to make all these possible.
“Every year she packed the Village Theatre for the annual Senior Citizens’ Talent Show. She gave lots of older folk – many of them younger than she was herself – something to look forward to.
“To say she will be sadly missed is a huge understatement.
“My condolences go to Sandy, her daughter Linda, son-in-law Gordon, sister-in-law May Reid, and mum Edith.”
Anne (nee Galbraith) was born on July 28, 1935, in Maryhill in Glasgow.
On leaving school she worked as a clerkess in the Co-operative at St George’s Cross.
It was love at first sight when she met future husband Sandy at the Kenmuir Dance Hall in Bishopbriggs in 1956.
A year later they were married at Colston Milton Parish Church in Lambhill and set up home in Maryhill. Soon afterwards the delighted couple found Anne was pregnant with daughter Linda.
A couple of years later, Sandy got a job with the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride, which qualified them for a home in the new town and they moved into a house in East Mains around 1960.
When Linda started school, Anne got a job in the Willow Tearoom in the Village and was soon running it.
When the tearoom closed she got a job as senior claims clerkess with road haulage company Tibbett and Britten in College Milton.
In the 1970s, through her mum, Edith, she became involved in the Blackbraes and Brancumhall Senior Citizens’ Clubs and soon found herself helping organise various treats and outings.
And through her father-in-law, who was president, she was encouraged to join the local branch of Age Concern.
In the late 1970s she took on the role of secretary and with the help of family, friends and the workforce at Tibbett and Britten, she got down, with dogged determination, to the serious task of fundraising to make life better for local senior citizens.
Her first big projects were Easter and Christmas dances, which were a great success, followed by equally successful summer outings.
Anne then had the idea of buying a caravan so pensioners could enjoy a holiday.
That was achieved early in the 1980s and the caravan, which was on a site at Monkton, near Prestwick, was soon booked solid from April to October every year.
Anne then hit upon the idea of upgrading the caravan and went about the task of raising the money necessary, which she did by winning National Lottery funding – enabling a new caravan to be purchased every three to four years.
Around 1984 she booked the Village Theatre and launched the first Senior Citizens’ Talent Competition.
There were just 10 acts taking part that first year and to spin out the programme Anne simply got the singers to sing three songs each and invited then Provost Sam Casserly to judge it.
The capacity audience loved it and it became a very popular event on the Age Concern calendar, with senior citizens queuing up to acquire the free tickets.
She also used raffles and other events to fundraise for another cause close to her heart – the welfare of animals.
A triple by-pass operation more than 25 years ago failed to slow down Anne’s campaign to improve the lot of senior citizens.
By then Anne and husband Sandy had moved to Chapelton where she was a member of the church.
However, she continued to enjoy her membership of Strathaven Bowling club and East Kilbride Indoor Bowling Club.
She was also a gifted potter and many a friend was delighted to receive a gift from her kiln.
But it was for her work with senior citizens that most got to know and admire her.
And in the mid-1990s she was runner-up for the Scotswoman of the Year title.
She was the first person to win South Lanarkshire Council’s Community Award and was also recognised in 2010 for her community work when she was presented with Rotary International’s Outstanding Service Award by East Kilbride Kittoch Rotary Club president Jim Martin.
Sadly, the toll taken on Anne by Parkinson’s forced her to retire from her community work following last year’s Senior Citizens’ Talent Show.
Despite her long illness – about which she never complained – Anne’s death came as a shock to those close to her.
She was rushed to Hairmyres last Wednesday evening and died, with Sandy, daughter Linda, and son-in-law Gordon Reid, at her side at 4.30am on Thursday.
Anne’s funeral service will take place this Friday at 1.15pm in Chapelton Parish Church and will be conducted by the minister and former moderator of Hamilton Presbytery, the Reverend Shaw Paterson.
Thereafter there will be a service at 2pm at South Lanarkshire Crematorium.