Hundreds of youngsters will pay tribute to their head teacher this week while raising money for charity.
Caroline Thomson, the head at Cornhill Primary School in Aberdeen, died last month after an “inspirational” 18-month battle with cancer. She was just 38.
Now pupils, teachers and parents at the school are preparing to do a sponsored walk in her memory on Friday to raise money for Clan.
Today Caroline was described as “good to the core” by her husband David.
The mother-of-two, from Portlethen, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2014, but was determined to keep life as normal as possible and continued to work – and volunteer for ChildLine – right through her chemotherapy.
It was only when doctors insisted she take time off to recover from her mastectomy that Caroline stayed away from the school – which her husband described as her “third child” – but was back last January, as soon as her radiotherapy had finished.
Hopeful that she had beaten the disease, Caroline and her husband took sons Callum, 12, and Robbie, nine, to Florida in Easter to enjoy some quality time together.
David said: “It was carefree because we thought she was a survivor – we thought she had beaten it.
“It was not just a holiday of a lifetime – it was the holiday of a new lifetime. It was just the best.”
But on the first day of the summer holidays, Caroline got a sore head, which gradually became worse. She convinced herself that the cancer was back, and tragically, she was proved right when a scan showed there was a mass on her brain.
She underwent surgery to remove the tumour in August 2015, but doctors gave her the heartbreaking news that she only had a year to live. More gruelling radiotherapy followed, but in October, Caroline became seriously ill and her family – including parents Ian and Lorraine and siblings Shona and Alastair – were told to prepare for the worst as the tumour was back and inoperable.
She fought back however, and after doctors indicated it would only be a matter of months, Caroline threw herself into making memories with her boys and set herself the target of seeing in Christmas.
“We knew then it was just a matter of time,” David added.
“But Caroline’s favourite saying was ‘it is what it is’.
“She was very philosophical and it was all about making the most of the time with the boys while still letting them live their lives and go to their football or outside to play.”
Caroline was devoted to her two boys, and loved organising day trips during the holidays – or taking them to Dons games or wrestling – or hiding cryptic advent clues around the house.
Shortly before she got ill, the former Peterhead Academy pupil and her husband had considered expanding their family through adoption or fostering, and had been in the process of investigating respite care for youngsters.
David – who met his wife 18 years ago – said: “She loved Cornhill, it was her life – there’s no doubt about it. The school was her third child, she never stopped thinking about that place.
“But I think she wanted to do more and be there for kids outwith school as well as in school – if she had her way there would have been 15 kids coming home with her.
“The more I think about her and speak about her, you see she was just good to the core.”
David thanked Portlethen Medical Centre, Clan and the various departments at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who looked after his wife, including oncology, neurology and the breast clinic.
He added: “She was just my rock. It’s not just going to be us that miss her – I’ve had parents of Robbie’s pals saying they look for her at Asda or at football training, she touched a whole lot of people.”