A RETIRED Greenock GP has drawn on her four decades in medicine to tackle hard-hitting issues head on in her new life as a novelist.

Greenock Telegraph: Anne Pettigrew

Author Anne Pettigrew, who now lives in Skelmorlie, features in our latest People of Inverclyde profile this week as we take a look at her own story.

Her debut thriller Not the life Imagined followed heroine medical student Beth as she faced sexism and misogyny while trying to uncover truth.

READ MORE: Former Gourock school to be turned into community space

In her writing Anne has channelled much of her own experiences as one of the few working class women studying medicine at Glasgow University in the 1960s.

The daughter of a war hero, William Smith, MBE, a merchant navy sea man who was awarded the Lloyd's War Medal for exceptional gallantry during the Second World War, Anne has broken down barriers her whole life.

The 73-year-old said: "I was the first in my family to go to university. My dad was in the merchant navy and my mum's family were in the woollen mills. I spent my childhood reading and loved school, especially English and science.

"I was actually torn between studying English literature or medicine. But my dad said that if I had what it takes I should do medicine.

"He was a wonderful man, so funny with a great sense of humour.  He was badly injured in the Second World War. He led convoys in the most dangerous waters. After the war he worked for a shipping company and he used to take me down to Greenock. I remember once being in the Sugar Sheds - in fact it put me off sugar for life. On one visit the man told me that the rats loved the sugar. I never had another cup of tea with sugar again!"

Years later Anne would find herself back in Inverclyde with husband Norman, a pharmacist, where they brought up her two children Susanna and David.

But before that she took all the opportunities that opened up as she made her way through uni, a period of her life she came back to later as a writer.

Anne grew up in the south side of Glasgow in a loving family with dad William, mum Nancy and older brother William, attending Queen's Park Secondary where she excelled in science and English.

After graduating and getting married to Norman in 1974, Anne worked first in hospital but found her true calling in general practice.

She added: "I started off working hospitals but it wasn't for me. Patients in hospital come in, your treat them and they leave. I wanted to get to know my patients, to be part of a community.

"I ended up in Greenock in Dr Lyon's practice in Union Street and then eventually it came the Ardgowan Practice. I absolutely loved it. I loved being a GP in Greenock.

"General practice has changed a lot and that was starting when I retired. But it is a privilege to be part of your patients lives."

In her time as a GP Anne was not afraid to take on health bosses to defend local services and supported the campaign against cuts to Inverclyde Royal. She also became a firm favourite with the media and broadcasters, writing her own column on medical matters.

Anne retired just before her 60th birthday to nurse her mum Nancy who was unwell.

But she then rediscovered her love of writing, studying creative writing and joining the Greenock Writers Club.

In 2018 she released Not the Life Imagined, followed by Not the Deaths Imagined, and then a slight departure with the Carnelian Tree, which drew on her inspiration when she went to Oxford Uni to study.

She said: "My books are not autobiographical but they cover issues that all young female medical students and young doctors experienced and are still going on in medicine today.

"Through my books I have talked to many young women studying medicine. They say to write about something you know, and I wanted to shine a light on issues but I also wanted to write a really good story too."

Anne transfers her humour and storytelling into her novels, which have won many fans and critical acclaim.

In her spare time Anne, who is now a gran, loves spending time with her grown up children and their families, and travelling.

And through her writing she continues to support women, with royalties from her titles raising money for Plan UK, a charity which promotes education in developing countries.