Come rain or shine on Banchory High Street, when you’re in a bad mood one man will always do his best to make you smile.
His name is Bob Gee or, as his occupation has led him to be dubbed, Big Issue Bob.
A 10-year veteran of the socially conscious publication which strives to give “some of the most excluded people in the country a unique opening to take some control of their lives and earn a legitimate income,” Bob has only one thing on his mind - meeting face to face the son and daughters that he hasn’t seen for over 30 years.
Bob (69) has been a ‘well -kent’ face ever since first arriving in Banchory, has a unique sense of humour and is a keen conversationalist for anyone willing to chat.
Bob said: “When I first got off the bus in Banchory, I knew there was something special about the place and the people are lovely, so friendly.”
Like many Big Issue vendors, Bob’s past has sadness in it.
Born in Aberdeen, by the age of 15 he was no longer happy in the city and, although a teenager, he moved to London.
He said: “It’s just one of these things that people do.
‘‘I heard I could make money down there. I heard that the streets were paved with gold. I didn’t find gold but I found a wife and a decent job as a corrugater at Bowaters.
‘‘Then my children were born. My son, Robbie - we were expecting a girl, I couldn’t believe it when he arrived - and two girls, Cheryl and Aimee.’’
However, over the years arguments grew in the household, Bob was made redundant in Thatcher’s Britain, divorce followed and then estrangment with his departure and move back to Aberdeen.
Now, after tracking down his eldest daughter, Cheryl, Bob is determined to see his children and make up for lost time.
He said: “I’m almost 70, and want to see them before it’s too late.
‘‘I don’t even know if I’ll recognise them or if they’ll recognise me, but I’m flying to Luton on the cheap in February.
‘I need to sell a lot of Big Issues.’’