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Distinguished GP's daughter dies

PUBLISHED: 10:20 28 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:58 16 September 2010

THE daughter of a distinguished Gorleston GP has died at her Florida home aged 82.

Gilda Grace had moved to the United States with her American husband James more than 20 years ago.

THE daughter of a distinguished Gorleston GP has died at her Florida home aged 82.

Gilda Grace had moved to the United States with her American husband James more than 20 years ago.

She had suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for several years.

The only daughter of Dr Kenneth Hamilton-Deane and his wife Elsie, Gilda attended Great Yarmouth High School for Girls.

A talented swimmer, she won a Norfolk Ladies championship title aged nine, breaking the county record by over 16 seconds.

Her success at such a young age was hailed in the national newspapers. Gilda was considered likely to be selected for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics, where she would have been the youngest ever Olympian had not war intervened.

Gilda was asked in 1939 by her brother William to give a swimming display at the opening of Gorleston swimming pool, at the rear of at the Floral Hall, now the Ocean Room.

At the outbreak of war many children in Great Yarmouth were evacuated and Gilda was sent to live with relatives in Ireland.

Although she returned to England within the year, Gilda became the youngest ever Irish national swimming champion at all distances and in record times.

After qualifying as a chiropodist, Gilda practised in Gorleston at the suggestion of her father.

She married Philip Armstrong-Storey and had two children, Anne Margaret and Robert William. While teaching her children to swim, Gilda was persuaded to enter the Suffolk County Championship and won two titles in record times without training.

After Mr Armstrong-Storey died, Gilda married James Grace, who also predeceased her.

Her brother Dr William Hamilton-Deane said: “Although my brother Tony and I were perhaps better known for our success in the water, Gilda was the natural born swimmer of the family.

“We both had to train continuously, while Gilda would just plunge in and succeed. With facilities locally for proper training I have no doubt she would have won Olympic honours.

“She is sorely missed by her all her family.”

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