Gail was a well-known character and personality within the Antipodean and South African community. As a registered nurse, she set up a Travel Clinic alongside the ex-Travel Deals Travel Agency in Acton in the 1990’s. The travel agency used to advertise heavily in the young traveller magazines and used to be a favourite port-of-call for clients wanting to go on European and Worldwide Tours through the likes of Contiki, On The Go and Busabout. Gail’s clinic grew fast with the flow of clients through the agency’s doors.
In 2000, when the 1st Contact Group bought the Travel Agency, Gail decided to join the expanded company. At its height in 2007 – when the 2 Year Working Holiday Visa was still available to South Africans – the Travel Clinic was seeing around 7,000 clients a year. Because Gail was such an integral part of the Clinic, she insisted on taking phone bookings, giving advice over the phone, and administering the injection – often doing all three at once! It was not out the ordinary for Gail to see over 50 people in a day, given that people often arrived with young children in tow.
Gail’s health started deteriorating in late 2012, but she remained dedicated – one could say wedded – to her business and she continued to consult with clients up until early December. In total, she was a member of the 1st Contact Group for over 14 years and the company has since inaugurated a Memorial Shield in her memory. All those employees whose tenure exceeds 10 years at the company will have their name added to the Shield. It is a fitting way to remember a lovely, colourful person who made such a deep impact on the company and the community.
Gail Graham passed away on 20 January 2013, and leaves a long-term partner and a sister.