Everything about June Comins evokes Yass.
From her birth at ‘Blackburn’ homestead and life on a sheep property, to the baking she does for many stalls on Comur Street.
Over a cup of tea and what were surely award-winning, home-made biscuits, June shared her story.
A smile grew on her face as she talked about her family, which continues to expand, with her sixth great-grandchild arriving just this week.
She said there was just one group who wouldn’t be able to make it for Christmas this year.
“The rest are all coming to me for Christmas Day. And various friends,” she said.
It’s a family tradition to “pick up the ones who aren’t going home or haven’t got families here”.
Her mother began collecting people who were floating around town and inviting them to Christmas dinner many years ago.
That fondness for charity was passed onto June, who has been involved in one community group or another her entire life.
In particular, the Yass branch of the Red Cross has benefited greatly from the great-grandmother’s handiwork over the past 70 years.
June joined the group straight out of school during the Second World War. At the time she also worked on the family farm.
“During the war I just worked with dad on the place because you couldn’t get men… I started working with the blokes in the shed.”
The Land heard about it and did a story about June.
“That was unheard of. A lot of sheds wouldn’t allow women. They used to say ‘ducks on the pond’ and ‘no language’,” when a woman entered the shed.
“I loved it,” she said. “I loved my horses and I loved mustering.”
It was then that she put her mind to helping raise money for Red Cross. She’s known for getting involved with everything and anything that would help the charity to help others.
Not keen to talk about her own accomplishments though, June focussed humbly on the work the Red Cross has done in the community.
She was proud of initiatives like the Telecross service, where someone calls an elderly person in the community every day to check if they’re OK.
Recently, thanks to the service, an elderly woman was able to get help after a fall overnight.
“That was a plus because she might’ve lain there all day,” June said. “It is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
“You hear these terrible stories about these people in Sydney who’ve been dead for days.”
Aside from the daily calls and ever present fundraising, the Red Cross team has helped out with emergencies.
“One of the jobs we were sent off to do was the Thredbo disaster.”
The Yass branch was called at three in the morning and they had to be ready to leave a few hours later.
Not knowing what to expect, June packed her gumboots and threw in a shovel, thinking it might come in handy.
“When we got up there we were doing registration. It was tea and sympathy really.
“It was pretty awful trying to talk to the parents… What can you say?” she asked.
The gumboots and shovel weren’t necessary.
June has toned down her activities but is hoping to get back into aerobics classes soon and will keep making the important daily Telecross calls.