Obituary: Mary Frances Love OBE, relationship consultant

Appropriately named director of Scottish Marriage Guidance and charity campaigner. Picture: Contributed
Appropriately named director of Scottish Marriage Guidance and charity campaigner. Picture: Contributed
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BORN: 2 July, 1938, in Edinburgh. Died: 3 March, 2015, in Edinburgh, aged 76.

Frances Love’s influence on Scotland’s pre-school playgroup and marriage guidance movements evolved rapidly from her enthusiastic support at grassroots level to key roles in shaping their future.

What began as part-time work, after devoting herself to raising her daughter in her early years, became a passion, culminating in an OBE and significant contributions across a wide network of charitable organisations.

As a teenager, fresh out of the capital’s Broughton High School, she had worked briefly with The Scotsman as a proof- reader before moving on to work as a librarian, first for a private library, then for Edinburgh City Libraries. After marrying her husband Jim in 1957 she gave up work and dedicated herself to home and family life, becoming a full-time mother to their young daughter.

It wasn’t until the late 1960s that she returned to work outside the home, taking a part-time job with a playgroup in the city’s Gifford Park. She quickly realised she had an affinity with the Scottish Pre-School Playgroups Association, agreeing with its ethos and principles, and went on to become its general secretary.

Her skills included the ability to link up a variety of organisations: a joined-up approach to issues, bringing together different initiatives in the pre-school field, such as Mothers and Toddlers groups and Stepping Stones. a project to introduce playgroups into deprived areas – that would support child development across Scotland, encompassing families in all social strata.

In addition to her work relating to children and the importance of play for healthy development, she was also involved in myriad other organisations all linked with human relationships, giving talks and lectures and running courses up and down the country.

In the summer of 1987 she was appointed director of Scottish Marriage Guidance – the coincidence of her surname and the raison d’être of the organisation earning her a mention on Derek Jameson’s Radio 2 chat show. Under her guidance and aided by her profound understanding of relationships, it later became Couple Counselling.

With her expertise and contacts, she also became influential in a number of other charitable organisations, becoming a director of Step Family Scotland, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations and the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, now known as Human Development Scotland, where she was a tutor and consultant.

One of her proudest achievements came in 1996 with the publication of the book Marriage Now: Asking Questions, which she co-authored with psychiatrist Douglas Haldane MBE, who had also been involved in the pre-school playgroup and marriage guidance movements.

Latterly, she was involved as a director of Edinburgh and Lothian Council on Alcohol and in December 2001 she was honoured with an OBE for services to marriage guidance. The award was presented by Prince Charles during a ceremony at Holyrood House which happened to fall on her birthday. She was astonished when, as he pinned the OBE on her lapel with a smile, the Prince announced: “And a happy birthday to you, Frances.”

Despite a growing prominence in her field and increasing demands on her time, she remained deeply devoted to her own family. She and her husband often enjoyed holidays together in Spain, France and Italy, and she took delight in supporting and seeing her grandson flourish. She also passed on her passion for children and families to her daughter and, through her unstinting work, leaves a powerful legacy as a role model to countless others advising in the vital field of human relationships.