Born in Cupar, Gertie and her younger sister Trixie were grand-daughters of the wellknown Dundee City architect and engineer, James Thomson. She was educated at Seymour Lodge. Her concern for the sick dates from when, as a young girl during the first World War, she helped her father gather sphagnum moss for binding soldiers’ wounds.

In 1938 she joined the VADs, Voluntary Aid Departments organised by the British Red Cross which were designed to provide medical aid in time of war. Then during World War II she became an ambulance driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Police and went on to spend nearly 20 years with the force; when the practice of using women drivers was discontinued Gertie found a job in CID in charge of photography and lost property.

In 1963 she was transferred to Civil Defence as Emergencies Planning Officer for Tayside, a post which involved masterminding huge exercises in emergency feeding and first aid. She held the post for about twelve years before retiring.

In all her spare time she worked with the Red Cross: 49 years in all. In 1966 she was appointed Deputy County Director, becoming County Director eight years later. In 1975 she was elected to the newly formed city health council. Her work was recognised with a Special Constabulary Service Medal in 1960 an MBE in 1977, and by being made Dundee’s Citizen of the Year four years later.

She stayed with the Red Cross until 1986, though she had retired from emergency planning (the equivalent of civil defence) ten years earlier, at which point she had said she’d buy herself a bicycle, to keep fit. It must have worked, for in 1985 she and Trixie completed a three week trek through the Himalaya, out-walking their younger companions. A friend describes her as “very enthusiastic, she kept us on our toes; she was sociable – and a champion baker for cake & candy stalls.”