Leading figure in the Ayr Amateur Opera Company

Born: January 15, 1925

Died: December 1, 2019

PAULINE Gould, who has died aged 94, was a veteran of the Second World War known for her charity work. During the war, she was part of a group that entertained injured military personnel in the burns unit at Ballochmyle Hospital in Ayrshire which was pioneering techniques to help badly burned and scarred victims of the war. Later in life, she volunteered for many charity shops in the area.

She was born in Ayr the fourth of five children to children’s tailor Thomas Edward Sherrington and his wife Susie (Boyle) of Sherrington’s Outfitters in Ayr, famed for children’s handmade Harris Tweed coats.

Her early years were spent at a small convent school in Ayr. She then boarded at St Joseph's Convent school in Girvan. She excelled in English but as staff from the family business were called up for service in the Second World War, Pauline never got to sit her Leavers Certificate.

She left school to help in her parents' shop. At 18, she was called up to Ardeer Munitions Factory where she worked in the cordite section. When she came off the night shift, she just had time to go home, get changed and go into the shop to help her parents. She also fire watched along the River Ayr.

Her elder brothers Thomas and Jimmy joined the RAF. Tom was a Spitfire pilot and Jimmy drove lorries in Egypt and Italy delivering fuel and munitions. Her sister Jean was a driver at the American Base in Prestwick. Her younger brother Ian, followed Pauline everywhere round Ayr in his childhood, much to her chagrin. Her siblings all predeceased her.

As a singer, Pauline was trained first by her father and then studied under the late Clifford Westcott. As a playing member of the Ayr Amateur Opera Company (AAOC), she appeared in The Gypsy Princess and No No Nanette. After her children were born, she served as a programme seller for decades at the 14-night run of the annual show at the Gaiety Theatre. Husband Kerr and her daughter Alison were past presidents. AAOC was a family affair with all six daughters involved in some way at some time. In 2012, Pauline was made an honorary life member of the company.

An offshoot of the company was the ‘Good Companions’ where Pauline and other AAOC members entertained women’s’ guilds in churches in Ayr, Prestwick and the surrounding area.

She married William Kerr Gould, a master tailor and director of former well known family business, James Gould and Sons. They lived in Ayr and had six daughters. Barbara, Elizabeth, Dorothy, Alison, Carolyn and Frances. At one stage, she had four children under six years old and she constantly reminded them of it. A year after her mother died, her father came to live with the family until his death in 1970.

In 1974, Pauline was suddenly widowed, aged 48, with five of her daughters still at home. At that time, she owned 'Pauline's' in the Main St, Ayr, retailing babywear for a further 12 years before retiring.

After relocating to Prestwick in 1979, Pauline joined St Quivox R C Church and was a regular choir member and soloist into her mid eighties. she also helped out at the church’s fundraising events and took her turn in the church shop.

She was an avid reader and regularly completed The Herald crossword. Her general knowledge was outstanding, which helped. she excelled in cryptic crosswords.

She had a wicked sense of humour, a great sense of fun and a twinkle in her eye. She came out with some terrific one-liners, often mixing English and French, such as when raining, “Il pleut the noo as they say sur le continent.” Some of her compliments had a sting in their tale, such as “oh, you’ll go far….and the further the better.”

From 2002 until 2013, Pauline holidayed annually in Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire, at the home of her eldest granddaughter Kirstine and her partner Dave. She loved it and their rural life. She revelled in the company of the locals at their local hostelry and was loved by many, particularly barmen Willie and Alan of the Ben Leva Hotel.

In her later years, Pauline was a regular street collector for Guide Dogs for the Blind and RNLI. She volunteered for WRVS in the Biggart Rehabilitation Hospital, Prestwick. Known as 'the Dolly with the Trolley' she went round the wards with library books for patients. She volunteered for many years in charity shops; Oxfam followed by Barnardo’s in Ayr, and latterly at Marie Curie in Prestwick.

In her seventies and early eighties, Pauline would walk two or three times a week from her home in Prestwick into Ayr town centre. She attended a weekly keep fit class for many years and used to entertain the ladies with her songs. She would meet up with a group of friends in Ayr for coffee every week without fail.

Pauline is survived by her six daughters, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews from both sides of the family in Scotland, England, USA, Canada and Australia.