By Stanley Lee Leader of Ballymoney Independent Gateway Club and Causeway Prospects on behalf of all those helpers and members who will miss Junior
11th February 2011 was a day when I lost 1 of my best friends. Just after 1 o’clock Junior McComb left his family and friends to go to be with his Saviour. It was a pleasure to have met and worked with Junior.
On the Saturday someone was sympathising with me on hearing about Junior. They said they always thought of the 2 of us together like Laurel and Hardy. I hope they think of me as Laurel and Junior as Hardy and not the other way around.
When I moved back to Ballymoney in 1975 to teach in Rasharkin I was quite often out at the McComb’s Steel business and up at the house. I met Junior and before long was heading off on Saturday afternoons with James and Junior on their jaunts around the antique trade in Cloughmills, Ballymena and Ahoghill. Junior particularly liked Sammy Gaston’s in Mill Street because Sammy had a confectionery shop as well as keeping antiques. Junior soon got to know me and I recall him sitting on my knee as a 15 year old. He said, “Taniel you’re my friend?” I replied that I was and he said” It’s my bufday the morrow. You buy me a pesent.”
Over the years as we went to Gateway Junior always kept me right. As 1 event passed he was ready to organise the next 1. “What about a bus? What about the Easter party? What about DJ Barry?” and at Christmas time “What about John Knox? What about letters?” He was my bus conductor each Gateway night and we had some great banter in the bus as we picked up our load. As we stopped at traffic lights Junior used to shout,”Change!” to change the lights to green. I would wait until I saw the lights for coming across us change to amber and then say, “I’m going to have to do it myself,” shouted change and of course the lights changed. Sometimes if Junior hadn’t tried to change the lights I would tell him to shout, “Change,” when I saw the other lights change to amber. Junior was well pleased when our lights changed for him.
Junior had a great love for motorbike racing and we used to call over with the late Joey Dunlop and ask Linda if Joey was busy. Joey was never too busy to see Junior, have a chat and then we would leave him to preparing his bikes. Robert Dunlop later came on the scene and he too was a favourite. We visited Cookstown 100. Tandragee, the Killinchy, the Ulster Grand Prix and the North West 200. All the riders knew Junior and had time to speak to him. Philip McCallen stopped in the paddock 1 year and asked if we were looking forward to a good days racing. He then surprised me when he asked why we had missed the Grand Prix the previous year. He had missed us. Junior’s birthday was on 1st May and before the NW each year on the 1st Sunday in May it was a standing order that I would take Junior round to inspect the course to see the lines were done properly. We always stopped for an ice-cream after doing a few laps of the course. I’m going to miss him this year because he always bought me a programme. Last year the programmes were quite expensive and Isa or James just bought his programme. He wasn’t going to let me down and tapped David his brother for another programme for me. During the racing he listened to the commentary and everyone within 100 yards knew who Junior was supporting. I remember Big D at Dundrod excitedly saying Joey was leading at Wheelers. Junior let out a cheer and everyone around enjoyed his pleasure. This was a common occurrence as he waved his hands the way he used to do when excited.
Sometimes I would tease him when he asked me to do something for him. I asked him once why I should do whatever it was he wanted me to do for him and his reply was “Because you’re my friend.”
He used to ask about going over to my house and was fond of a fry on a Saturday morning. Dec last when he was able to eat well he had potato bread, soda, pancake 2 rashers of bacon and a sausage washed down with 2 mugs of tea. Later as we watched Tom and Jerry he said “What about an ice-cream?” It was nice that he was able to be at Gateway Christmas Dinner and eat well.
At Causeway Prospects we meet in Trinity Church in 1 of the minor halls. Junior enjoyed the accordion music and the stories, especially the drama where Trevor Purden might have been 1 of the pigs in the story of the Prodigal Son or Peter McGrath might have been the donkey in the story of the Good Samaritan. At our Christmas carol service Junior announced that he wanted to be Joseph. Perhaps it was because Sylvia Patrick was Mary. During the play he reached out and grabbed Sylvia’s hand. Junior asked the Lord Jesus to save him after hearing the gospel message. When I asked him if he was saved he replied, “Aye.” I asked him how he knew and he said, “I asked Jesus into my heart. “ Isn’t the gospel simple? We only need simple faith like Junior. At Prospects Junior used to enjoy singing “He that believeth hath everlasting life.” He enjoyed the part,”When I get to Heaven gonna walk all around.“ Heaven will be rejoicing with Junior today. He won’t have any learning disability or any more pain.
I thank God and James and Isa McComb for allowing me to be a friend to James Cameron McComb better known as JUNIOR L.B.A. Loved By All.
Stanley Lee Leader of Ballymoney Independent Gateway Club and Causeway Prospects on behalf of all those helpers and members who will miss Junior I want to express my sympathy to James, Isa and the family.