Obituary: Rene Grant, 89

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RENE Grant, one of Scotland’s first female sanitary inspectors who worked to improve living conditions among Edinburgh’s most deprived, has died, aged 89.

Rene Grant stepped into the breach left by the men who went to fight in the Second World War to become a qualified inspector.

Had she bowed to her ­father’s wishes, Rene would have followed the family tradition of working on the railways.

The daughter of a signalman and sister of a railwayman, it seemed like a job on the railways was the natural path for her to go down. But the headstrong young woman had other ideas and when the opportunity came to train as one of the country’s first qualified ­female sanitary inspectors, she rose to the challenge.

She threw herself at the opportunity to forge a pioneering career in public health and to help make a difference to those enduring appalling living conditions in Edinburgh, during a time when overcrowding, disease and unsanitary living conditions were commonplace.

After studying at night school to gain her qualifications, she was awarded her sanitary inspectorate certificate in 1946.

Her achievement was so unheard of that there was a write-up about her in the local paper. Her working life in Edinburgh proved to be a sociable one and it was through her work that she met her future husband, Bill Grant, who ran the payroll at her offices.

Following her marriage in 1951 she went on to live the “good life” in rural West Lothian, overseeing 500 chickens, an assortment of geese, ducks, a goat and pony plus several hives of bees, before changing course once more to work with children with severe disabilities.

This new role saw her travelling around the countryside picking up the pupils of Beatlie School, Winchburgh, in a minibus. This proved to be a demanding role, however Mrs Grant saw it through with compassion and dedication.

After her retirement, Mrs Grant and her husband moved to a cottage in Linlithgow where she was an avid member of the 50-plus walking group and the film society.

After the death of her husband in 1995 she sought great comfort in her friend and sister Evelyn.

She is survived by sons Ian and Donald, daughter Alison, sister Evelyn, grandchildren and extended family.