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June McCombie: Much loved Torry lollipop lady dies age 74

Torry lollipop lady June McCombie who has died aged 74.

Where June McCombie stood each day for almost 30 years, flowers in the shape of her red and yellow lollipop are piled high.

Cards and balloons pay tribute to her kindness, and tributes from Walker Road Primary pupils adorn the school’s railings.

More than someone who simply helped children safely cross the street – for nearly three decades the 74-year-old was the heart and soul of Torry itself.

Torry lollipop lady June McCombie
Floral tributes to much-loved lollipop lady June McCombie.

Now plans are in place to make sure June – and her ability to make everyone feel special – will never be forgotten.

Torry at heart

Born on March 19, 1947, June was one of two daughters for George and Isabel Clubb.

Raised in Insch with her younger sister Anne she’d become a self-appointed Torry quine as the years progressed.

She attended Insch School before going onto Inverurie Academy.

Walker Road School Lollipop lady June McCombie.</p> <p>

And took a job in Alcock’s chemist shop soon after.

A fan of the pictures, youth club and dancing she also sang in Insch Parish Church choir.

Family life

In 1967 June met and married Ashley McCombie.

The couple started their family with daughter Paula, and in 1970 Scott was born.

They lived in Gaddie Dale, Premnay and then at Tyrie Gardens in Insch before moving to Menzies Road in Torry in 1973.

June and Ashley divorced but June remained in Grampian Road, Torry for the rest of her life.

In 1998 June’s only grandson Conor Bruce was born – and the pair formed a close bond.

Great with children

Working with children has always been June’s passion.

With a big heart and deep pockets she was always there for whoever needed her.

Her career began at a nursery on Summer Street  before launching her own, sadly short lived, nursery business.

Always happiest when she was the children of her school: June McCombie.

After a period where she was out of work June discovered her true vocation.

She accepted the role of lollipop lady in February 1994 for Walker Road School – just across the street from her house.

She was still working in the job she loved until five weeks ago when she became ill.

Always going the extra mile

Out in all weathers, she would often have to change he clothes three times in a day when it rained.

Anyone in the area could come to expect a wave if they went by.

One ‘toot’ after another was commonplace at school crossing times as drivers responded to her beaming smile.

At Christmas June’s home became like Santa’s Grotto.

Surrounded by get well cards when she suffered a heart attack is Walker Road lollipop lady June McCombie.

Gifts and cards from all the children she’d help to cross the road each day took pride of place.

Wanting to reciprocate June started buying lollipops for the children – but it became so popular pupils from other schools diverted their walking route to catch a treat from June.

Loved the banter

Always one to join in the fun, June loved to banter with the children.

Sharing songs and jokes, you’d often hear her or one of the pupils screaming ‘chicken nuggets’ at the top of their lungs.

It was a long-standing game to see who’d say it first.

Lollipop lady at Walker Road Primary School June McCombie when she was nominated for Crossing Patroller of the Year in 2012.

Her affinity with the children from Walker Road resulted in June being nominated as Queen for the school’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

And when she wasn’t doing her day job she was involved with the school’s Credit Union.

In 2016 June received a community star award for her services as a lollipop lady and for all she did for the Torry community.

Friendship

Working at the school also allowed June to meet Shona Burnett.

She said: “June and I became friends years ago now. She was like a second mum to me.

“I work in the kitchens and June was on the gate but she was one of those people who always had time for everyone else.

“I looked forward to our weekly catch ups over one-too-many fine pieces.

“We just joked in the last few weeks that I’d grieved for her once – and I wasn’t read to do it again. We’re so sad she’s actually gone.”

Back from the dead

In December 2007 June had a heart attack.

But while she was recovering rumours started that she’d actually died.

“People were in floods of tears at the school thinking she had gone,” Shona said.

Beloved lollipop lady June McCombie  gave her schoolkids the ultimate Christmas present by coming back from the dead.

So much so that despite recuperating June had to turn up at the school to prove she was still very much alive and well.

Headlines at the time said she had come back from the dead – and she even appeared on BBC Aberdeen.

From then on she loved to quote Mark Twain ‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’

In 2018 a cancer diagnosis and ensuing treatment did take its toll on June – but she fought back to life for the sake of the kids at school.

Bingo!

When she wasn’t working June loved to watch Emmerdale, colour in on the iPad or chat to her new friend – Alexa.

But Bingo really was her favourite way to spend her free time.

A recent scarecrow competition saw June replicated as a minion scarecrow. She is pictured right with Alfie Milne, left.

Paula and her mum loved their Blackpool bingo breaks, and June enjoyed playing at the Kermit Club, Portland Club and Mecca.

June also continued with Avon, for as long as she worked at the school.

‘I’ll never leave Torry’

On September 28, June was admitted to hospital and less than 24 hours later she passed away.

Surrounded by her family, Scott, Paula and Conor were by her side.

What was originally thought to be sciatica was actually a very rare spine infection.

Tributes to June don the streets where she lived and worked.

Her sister Anne remarked that she had got her three wishes: never to leave her house,
never to stop working, and never to leave Torry.

The school and community representatives are planning to install a bench in her honour.

A poem, written by two of the children she helped keep safe each day, said this:

“The warmest of smiles, even on the coldest of days,
You made sure we crossed safely, it was your way.
From nursery to primary seven,
We are so sad you are now in heaven.
A rare diamond taken far too soon,
We will forever say, ‘Good morning, June’.

Scott added: “She was some woman. Everybody thought so. I can’t really believe I won’t see her any more.”

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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