Heartbroken relatives of a north-east mum who was the “heart of the family” today paid tribute and vowed to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Shirley Findlay, 37, from Peterhead, took her own life after struggling with depression.
Shirley’s husband, Ivan McCombie, said her “soul shined” and described her as “the best mum” to their two children Olivia, 13, and Matthew, 11.
Shirley, who was also a sister to Derek, Ewan and Margo and daughter to Ben and Phyllis, worked as a nursery teacher in Ellon.
Ivan, 39, said: “She was so passionate about taking care of yourself. Shirley was a very determined person and very proactive. She was the best mum and was so devoted to Olivia and Matthew. Her soul shined. She was the heart of the family.”
Ewan added: “She took amazing care of Olivia and Matthew – they were the two healthiest children in the world. I always remember every time we saw the children, they always had a smile on their face. Shirley had a radiance about her – she would just glow.”
He added: “She was a doer – if someone said you can’t do something, then she would find a way for it to be done.
“She was one of those people who would always follow through on an idea and was very good for the togetherness of the whole family.”
The family moved to Perth, Australia, five years ago, where Shirley developed a passion for healthy living and environmentalism, before returning home to the north-east last month.
Ivan said: “We went over to Australia five years ago to go and see a bit more of the world.
“We set out on this big adventure and took it on together. We had a few friends over there and thought we weren’t getting any younger so let’s see some of the world.
“We did it all with our two children Matthew and Olivia.
“One year turned into two years and then turned into four and five years.
“We saw so much over there – beaches and beautiful scenery.
“She was a huge fan of going into coffee shops in Australia and every day began or ended in one.
“Going over there really inspired her with the healthy living lifestyle – taking care of yourself and the planet.
“She was so inspired by going over there and seeing something else.
“We came back home for a few reasons.
“Shirley was not as well – things were getting to her. It also felt like the right time to come back.”
Following her death last Wednesday, Shirley’s family are looking to set up a fund in her memory to raise awareness and money for mental health.
Ewan said: “We’re going to set up a memorial fund for Shirley.
“When it comes to mental health, the conversation is so much better but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“I’ve been ignorant – and I don’t know how many other people have been ignorant towards mental health.
“I never truly understood what it was. It doesn’t work to just tell someone to feel better.
“If we can raise a fund and continue to set up events like football matches or walks, it could create something bigger to help raise awareness of this and keep her memory alive.”
Ivan added: “This is something that we want to carry on for the future – to have a fund in her memory.
“If we can help people and continue to raise funds and awareness, then that’s a very worthwhile thing.
“She was the least selfish person – everybody else came first.
“Whether it was me or the kids or her parents, they always came before her.
“She had a lot of love around her and she had a lot of love to give.”
The family have asked for donations to the new fund being set up in Shirley’s name in lieu of flowers at her funeral tomorrow.
The service will be held at The Almanythie Hall, Grange Road, Peterhead at 2.30pm and all friends are invited.
A service for Shirley will also be held at Secret Harbor Beach in Western Australia on Sunday.
Samaritans is a helpline available around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whatever you are going through.
It’s free to phone them on 116 123 and anyone with concerns for themselves or a family member can get in touch.