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Character Profiles > Gaby Willis Rachel Blakely

Gabrielle 'Gaby' Willis 1991-1994
Lived: 28 Ramsay Street
Born: c. 1970
Parents: Doug and Pam Willis
Siblings: Adam, second child [name unknown], Brad and Cody
Children: Zac
Family Tree: Willis
Occupation: Fashion Designer, Secretary, The Robinson Corporation and Lassiter's Hotel Manager

The eldest daughter of Doug and Pam Willis, ambitious, bright and career-minded Gaby Willis went to study business in Japan after taking her HSC. When she successfully completed the course - which included art and design - Gaby returned to Erinsborough where her family was now living at No. 28 Ramsay Street. Her arrival was just in the nick of time as Gaby's parents were on the verge of bankruptcy after having to bail son Brad out of an Asian jail when he was wrongly accused of drug smuggling. Gaby managed to trick one of Doug's debtors into thinking she was the family's lawyer and he quickly handed over his outstanding debt of $10,000, which went a long way to easing the financial strain on the Willis household.

When a lot of the local residents began to ask her to make dresses for them, Gaby decided to put her business knowledge and design skills to good use and so, opened up a boutique - Gabrielle's - in the Lassiter's Arcade, with Caroline Alessi as a silent partner. The business was a huge success, especially after Glen Donnelly discovered one of Gaby's customer's names was Elizabeth Taylor and leaked the news to the Erinsborough News, letting them think that it was the Liz Taylor, as opposed to the little old lady it really was.

Romance blossomed for Gaby and Glen after she comforted him on the first anniversary of his mother's death and Glen gave Gaby a copy of The Little Prince - his favourite childhood book - to thank her for her sympathetic ear. Guy Carpenter expressed interest in Gaby around the same time, and she briefly considered going out with him, until she discovered he was also seeing Caroline and Lucy Robinson. Instead, Gaby concentrated on seeing Glen, and they fell deeply in love. They briefly split up after an argument and Gaby used Guy to make Glen jealous. In fact, Glen was so angry that Gaby was seeing Guy that he stormed over to No. 24 one night and interrupted their cosy evening together to voice his anger. Gaby followed Glen back to his place to confront him about his outburst, and was shocked when Glen ended up proposing. A thrilled Gaby accepted and the couple became engaged. But tragedy struck when Glen fell from the roof of Lassiter's Hotel while trying to fix a fallen banner and he was left paralysed from the waist down. Gaby was by his side throughout the whole terrifying experience, but Glen was convinced it was out of duty to him. Believing Gaby would never want to be tied down with a paraplegic all her life, Glen fled Erinsborough, leaving a devastated Gaby behind.

More drama followed for Gaby when her meddling aunt Faye Hudson accidentally set fire to the boutique, and the business collapsed as a result. For a while, Gaby was forced to work as a barmaid at the Waterhole and went through a rebellious phase were she dyed her hair orange and dated punk Zed. But when brother Brad was given the manager's position at the pub, Gaby woke up to herself and resolved to get her life in order and not let her business degree go to waste. She landed a job as secretary to Benito Alessi at the Robinson Corporation but was quickly promoted to 'number two' by Paul Robinson after Benito left and Philip Martin replaced him. Finally, Gaby was putting her good business head to use, and dreamed of one day making it further in the company.

When debonair Simon Hunter, a client of Lassiter's, met Gaby and invited her out, Gaby was instantly smitten by his good looks and charm. They started dating, but Gaby discovered she was dating a monster when Simon tried to rape her on a weekend away at a guest house. As soon as she got back to Erinsborough, Gaby decided to press charges and a disgusted Doug angrily hit Simon upon hearing of what he had attempted. But Simon blackmailed Gaby into dropping the charges by threatening to sue Doug for assault. Although Doug was content to take an assault conviction, Gaby wanted to put the entire matter behind her, and she agreed to drop the case.

It was a long time before Gaby dated again and when schoolteacher Wayne Duncan moved into Ramsay Street, she immediately clashed with him. It was Gaby's grandfather, Bert (who had come to stay at the Willis house and heal a long-standing rift with Doug before his death) who recognised that Gaby was actually attracted to Wayne. Bert worked hard at getting the pair together, and before he left Erinsborough, he told Gaby that it was his dying wish to see her and Wayne together. This prompted Gaby and Wayne to admit their feelings for each other and they finally started dating. It was to be a stormy relationship, however, and the fact that Wayne didn't get on with Pam failed to help matters. Gaby was also jealous of Wayne's friendship with Annalise Hartman, who was also living at the Robinson house with him, and she was also unimpressed with Wayne descending into a larrikin when he was around his brother, Troy. The final nail in the couple's relationship came when Gaby refused to stand by Wayne when he was accused of murdering biker thug, Cactus, who had mistakenly beaten Wayne up a few weeks before. When Wayne was arrested for the murder, Gaby doubted Wayne's innocence because she knew he kept a gun in the garage, but she was forced to apologise when he was cleared of any involvement. Wayne, however, was so hurt by Gaby's suspicions that he could never see a future for the two of them, and he ended the relationship.

When the Waterhole exploded after a gas leak, Gaby and Philip were faced with a financial nightmare as they worked on how to rebuild the pub. Philip favoured laying off the bar staff while the rebuilding was taking place, but Gaby fiercely objected to his idea, and called Paul in Hawaii to complain. Tired of Philip and Gaby's constant bickering in the office, Paul told them that he was sending one of his senior associates, Jack Parker, to Erinsborough to determine which of them was most suitable for the position of manager and with the power to replace either of them. Gaby threw herself into the race to impress Jack, and was determined to get the top position. She put up a progress chart in the office to record both her and Philip's successes and thus, measure which of them should run Lassiter's. Gaby pulled off the first coup with a 300-strong wedding for the Erinsborough News' gossip columnist, Veronica Baxter. Gaby further tried to impress Jack by accepting his invitation to join him for dinner in his hotel suite. And when she rejected Jack's sexual advances, Jack revealed he had actually only been testing her to see just how far she'd go for the Lassiter's job and congratulated her for not being that type. Gaby cost herself the top job, however, when she stole one of Philip's clients and her guilt led to her admitting this to Jack. When Jack called Paul with the news that Philip was to be kept on as manager, Paul wanted to sack Gaby figuring she and Philip were not suited to working together. But Philip stepped in, and insisted Gaby be allowed stay as assistant manager, and Paul agreed on condition that the pair work together as a team.

After the dust had settled and Gaby and Philip had begun to work together again at the office, Philip was shocked when his wife, Julie, overheard Gaby on the phone to Jack late one night at Lassiter's. Philip had also become suspicious of Gaby due to her recent habit of staying at the office way past close of business, and he started to think she and Jack were planning a full take-over of the company when the hotel secretary Prue Watkins handed him a fax for Gaby from Jack saying she 'would soon be ready to take control.' When Gaby left the office early for an appointment that afternoon, Philip decided to follow her and when the concierge told him she had taken a taxi to a private airport, Philip drove after her anxious to uncover what she was up to. But once Philip caught up with Gaby at the airport, he realised he had totally misread the situation and Gaby was actually taking flying lessons and her instructor's name was Jack!

During the course of her flying lessons, Gaby had also begun to fall for her smooth-talking instructor. They started dating, and shortly afterwards, Jack admitted to Gaby that he was a virgin. But Gaby assured Jack that his lack of sexual experience didn't matter to her, and she offered to sleep with him. Jack was grateful for Gaby's offer, and whisked her off to Tasmania for the occasion. When they returned from Hobart, Gaby was blissfully happy after helping Jack lose his virginity and had fallen helplessly in love with him. But she was devastated when an old student of Jack's contacted her to inform her that Jack had used the same line on her in an attempt to get her into bed years before. Gaby confronted Jack about the accusations but he managed to assure her it was just sour grapes because he had refused to sleep with the student. However, after Jack hit on Lauren Carpenter and Gaby's younger sister, Cody, Gaby dumped him, despite Jack's protestations that he was making up for lost time. To cheer herself up over the break-up, Gaby decided to go for a pre-Christmas flight up the coast. Her arch enemy Annalise joined her, after they had called a truce, but disaster struck when Gaby was forced to make a crash landing. They luckily survived the landing, but were stranded in the country bush for hours until they were eventually saved by a helicopter on patrol.

Gaby began to think about searching for a new job after news broke that the hotel was being sold. Although she was offered a lucrative contract with Lassiter's rival, Parkside Pacific, Gaby began to crave for a return to her fashion roots after meeting with Stefano, an Italian designer staying at the hotel. Stefano eventually offered Gaby a job as his personal assistant in Europe, and she jumped at the chance of moving to Milan. But two months later, Gaby was back in Erinsborough and her family was puzzled by her sudden return. Gaby insisted that she had quit her job because Stefano was using her as a glorified secretary and she didn't think it would advance her career. But when Stefano rang the Willis house and spoke to Gaby, Doug and Cody overheard her telling Stefano she was sorry for leaving so abruptly, and assuring him that it was for personal reasons she had quit rather than professional. Doug and Pam confronted Gaby about the real reason for returning suddenly, and she shocked them by revealing she was pregnant. The Willis' initially suspected Stefano of being the father, but after Gaby assured them it was nothing to do with him, they worked out it had to be Jack Flynn. Gaby confirmed their suspicions, but insisted she didn't want Jack to know. Doug, however, felt it was Jack's responsibility to support Gaby and stormed over to the airfield to tell him so. Gaby was furious with Doug for going to see Jack and refused to entertain the idea of having Jack involved in the child's upbringing. But an agreement was reached when Jack told Gaby that he understood why she didn't want him to be part of the baby's life since he knew he would be a lousy father but he insisted that she let him support her financially and Gaby agreed.

Throughout her pregnancy, Gaby also threw herself back into life at Lassiter's. New owner Cheryl Stark had given Gaby the manager's position after Philip's decision to leave, and Gaby was determined to prove that she could handle the demanding job as well as pregnancy. However, she was eventually forced to hire a personal assistant to ease her workload and was quickly smitten by the good looks and charming personality of the man she hired, Kris Hyde. But Gaby was to be let down yet again when she discovered Kris was married with kids, and had been attempting to con Lassiter's with exorbitant bills.

Gaby was rushed to hospital when she started bleeding while on a weekend retreat in the country with Doug and Pam. Convinced she was losing the baby, she was relieved when the doctors confirmed that she hadn't miscarried. The bleeding had come from the placenta and Gaby was told to rest in order for the placenta to heal. But Pam and Doug were less than impressed when Gaby began sending faxes and phoning business associates from her sick bed. She stunned all around her further by arranging for Philip to return to Lassiter's and cover for her during her maternity leave because she was only taking four weeks off.

Thinking she would never give birth, Gaby was relieved when she finally started having contractions while at home one afternoon. However, Doug was delayed getting home and Pam and Cody had to rush to the birthing centre on Pam's new motorbike, with Gaby in the sidecar after Doug was delayed getting home. A difficult labour followed for Gaby at the centre, but Pam and Cody gave her support throughout and shortly after Doug arrived, Gaby gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Zac.

Gaby's happiness was short-lived when Jack showed up at the Willis house days later announcing he now wanted to be part of his son's life. At first Gaby would not even let Jack see Zac, but after he took Zac off with him one afternoon when Doug left the child unattended for a moment, Gaby realised how much Jack wanted to be a father to his son and agreed to let him see him whenever he liked. The stress, meanwhile, of juggling motherhood and running a major company was beginning to take its toll on Gaby, so when Rosemary Daniels offered her the less stressful job of managing the new Lassiter's branch in Darwin and its affiliated Outback Artists Tours business, Gaby accepted and made plans for her and Zac to leave. When Jack learnt of Gaby's decision, he decided to make the move up north too, and Gaby - who had started to become closer to Jack again - was secretly quite pleased by Jack's decision and even organised a job for him as pilot for the Outback Artists Tours. After a naming ceremony in the Willis garden where Gaby planted a tree in Zac's honour, Gaby, Jack and Zac left for Darwin. A few months later, they got engaged, and were later married.

Trivia Notes
In 1990, Rachel Blakely married Peter Craig, who had made a Neighbours guest appearance in 1985 as Colin Adamson
Although Rachel left the regular cast in episode 2230, she made two further appearances later in 1994, in episodes 2261 and 2264, when Annalise and Mark went to Darwin for the Big Bash
In 2005, Gaby made a cameo appearance in Annalise's 20th Anniversary Documentary

Tenure
1496-2230, 2261, 2264, 4773

Magic Moments
Episode 1496: Gaby's Arrival
Episode 2230: Gaby's Departure

Biography by Moe

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