Tributes have been paid to a woman who grew up in a remote Norwegian town north of the Arctic Circle before moving to Melton to become one of the town’s leading travel agents.
Gunvor Elisabet Carrington passed away on April 21 after suffering the debilitating effects of lung fibrosis for the last 10 years of her life.
Generations of Melton people will know her from booking holidays at Melton Travel, which she founded in 1972 and went on to run for nearly 30 years.
The business, located on Sage Cross Street, continued to thrive despite being one of eight travel agencies operating in the town before the industry moved more online with the growing influence of the internet.
She ran the business with husband Joe, who she married in 1983, until her retirement in 2001.
Joe said: “Gunvor had the ability to always see the best in people and this resulted in a loyal workforce, many of whom worked for her for many years.
“She had a marvellous memory for customers, who would return year on year for repeat bookings.
“She would remember names and places going back generations and honeymoons, sometimes twice over.”
Gunvor was born in Honningsvag, the northernmost town in Norway, close to the border with Russia.
Her father was a fisherman who would often go away for two months to catch fish before returning home to sell them.
The family was evacuated towards the end of the Second World War when the occupying German army burned every building down except for the church with the Russians advancing.
They returned as the rebuilding of their community gathered pace.
Gunvor, who had two brothers and a sister, worked in the local travel office before deciding to move to England in the 1950s.
She travelled more than 2,300 miles to work as an au pair at the Brackenhurst Farm College in Nottinghamshire.
The vice-principal of the college, a Mr Martin, persuaded her to open the first ever travel agency in Melton, above the old Post Office in Sherrard Street.
Later on, Gunvor opened Martin’s Travel on the corner of Sherrard Street before returning home in 1971 to look after her mother.
She returned to Melton the following year to start up Melton Travel, which she expanded with offices in Syston and Bingham and then another two in Oakham.
Away from work she enjoyed playing golf at the Melton club and bridge.
Joe, who met his late wife in 1975 at Melton Mowbray Rugby Club while he was playing for them, added: “Gunvor was often stopped in the town to talk of the old times and she was able to recount holidays and events with complete clarity and accuracy.
“Her illness in the last 10 years finally took its toll but she never complained.
“She enjoyed her life to the full and took such an interest in other people that it made her a joy to be with.
“We have had so many lovely cards since Gunvor passed away and she will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her.”
Seventeen family members from Norway will attend Gunvor’s funeral service, which will be at St Mary’s Church in Melton.
Her sister, Liv, who has already arrived, said: “Gunvor was always so full of life when we were growing up.
“She liked skiing and gymnastics and she had a lot of friends.
“Gunvor came home every year and Norway was always in her heart but she loved England and living in Melton.”
Gunvor’s funeral, which is being organised by Richard Barnes Funeral Directors, is at St Mary’s on May 9 at 2pm.
Anyone who knew her is invited to attend with donations requested for the Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis charity.