June was born Jean Regina Ball on April 16th 1937, as the eldest of three daughters to Evelyn Rosina Ball and Reginald Alexander Ingleby Ball. She was born in Shilong, India. Reginald, my grandfather, was an Irishman a tea planting engineer and an expert marksman and exterminator of rogue man eating animals – be it lions, tigers or bears. June’s two sisters Nola and Diana were born shortly after, and the three girls were sent to Dr Graham’s Homes School in Kalimpong in 1945.
This school that rested on the hillside with a Himalayan backdrop provided June with some fond and other not-so-fond memories, but certainly several lifelong friendships. The annual Kalimpong reunion was often a highlight of the year for June.
June’s friend Barbara writes:
“I first met June when we were in the same Kindergarten Class in Dr. Graham’s Homes, Kalimpong. We were the best of friends and I remember waiting for June every morning before the start of the school day. Her face lit up when she saw me and we always sat next to each other. We shared confidences, laughter and sometimes sadness too but I was always happy in June’s company. When we were 7 years old we were in a Play called THE SNOW QUEEN and June was chosen as the Snow Queen as she was the prettiest girl in the class. She wore a shimmering white dress and had a silver crown and I was so proud of her as she sang and danced on the stage and her beauty shone through. We have kept in touch ever since and I shall remember June’s beautiful smile and her laughter. She was totally unselfish and believed that there was good in everyone. I feel privileged to have known June and having her as my friend has greatly enriched my life”. (Barbara Burgess nee Castley)
In 1951, aged just 14, June came to England by boat sponsored by her paternal grandmother whom she called Aunty. She lived in London in the fashionable area of Kensington. June was know as Little Miss Sunshine by the staff in Harrods and was often given gifts as she went around running errands for Aunty.
June first came to Brighton shortly afterwards, where she attended a pre-nursing school in Stanmer, and moved in to 5 Wellington Road with Aunty. She was a strong swimmer and would often swim the distance between the Palace and West Piers on Brighton Beach – just for fun. After school, in 1955, she went to Worthing General hospital where she trained to be a state registered nurse for three years.
Shortly after her twentieth birthday, she moved back to Brighton where she did some private nursing. But she never forgot her Indian roots, and in 1961, she went to India by boat from Southampton to work in Victoria hospital, Calcutta.
A year later she moved to Chichester to live with her sister Nola who had now married Barry Beacher. June was again doing private nursing work, and it was during this she was involved in a motorbike accident that left her in pain for the rest of her life.
She moved back to Wellington Road to nurse Aunty until she died, leaving June the house at 5 Wellington Road that became her much loved family home for the next 40 years. June lived there herself and rented out the other rooms to students at the university.
One of these students was a Sri Lankan lad named Mal, who kept in touch with Mum. He writes:
“I very clearly remember the day I met June for the first time. It was in October 1967 when I responded to an advert she had placed in the Evening Argus advertising her upstairs flat. She asked me basically two questions … one was which college I was attending and the other was my nationality. Based on the two answers she decided immediately to rent the flat to me for £7.00 per week with electricity. She did look a little like my eldest sister then. She was also like a mother to us for the 2 year period we stayed with her as a student. Whenever we fell ill she used to come up and check on us and also give necessary medical advice and provide us with medication too. This was a great strength to us. At the same time she was very strict if we were making any noise after 10.00 pm on weekdays. Two remedies she gave me are still with me and I keep using them from time to time. The funny part is just two days ago one of my labourers in the estate came to me and said he had a carbuncle. Immediately my mind went back to No. 5, Wellington Road days and I told him to apply the same medicine that June asked me to apply. I believe that was the day she passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Love Mal & Sue”
June was a gregarious young woman, and was always surrounded by friends. At the local dance halls she always had a different partner for each dance! She really was the life and soul of the party – and parties there were many. Pots of rice and curry would be cooked up and the crowds would come to chat, eat and dance. It was at one of these parties in the 1965 that June met an international student who had come from Malaysia to gain a degree in Electrical Engineering. His name was Bala.
Mum had plenty of suitors, and even emigrated to marry one of them (the then All England Champion Badminton player) leaving her new friend Bala to house-sit. The match was not to be though, and when she returned in 1968, June Ball found herself bowled over by the slim, sophisticated, spin bowling cricketer house-sitter, who would later become my dad.
June and Bala married in August of 1970, against the wishes of certain family members on both sides. But their love overcame all those challenges- and plenty others in their forty year marriage. Krish was born in 1971, and Sara in 1974 and the family was complete. At this time, Bala was working as an engineer with GEC and June continued to nurse.
“My childhood memories are of a happy, stable home environment, with the strong support of my aunties and uncles in both the UK and Malaysia. My adventurous mum encouraged me to try new things and gave me strategies for coping with the ups and downs of school life, whilst my dad instilled in me a love of education and travel. Mum was always there with a clever new idea when the kids at school were calling me racist names. She was the one who laboured through the night so that I won the best Easter Garden competition at school or ensured that Sara and I had badges sewn on our uniforms. I remember sitting with Mum scooping out the flesh of an enormous pumpkin so I could put it on my head on Haloween. The following year, I persuaded Mum to strap her hoover on my back so I could be a ghost buster. When my sister got a paper round delivering the Brighton and Hove leader – it was Dad that drove them and Mum that walked round lugging thousands of papers –but it was Sara that got all the money! It was also Mum who encouraged me to follow the marching band that came past our house one morning, and that was the time we discovered the Salvation Army, that was to be a spiritual home for both of us. It was mum that taught us both to pray, (Sara is now the prayer co-ordinator for a major Christian relief and development charity) and it was mum who read the bible with us (teaching the Bible is what I most enjoy about my job these days.)”
June was always making friends, whether it was through her work as a nurse where she met Elizabeth and Theresa, or on the maternity ward where she met another new mum and neighbour Chris Armstrong. She had a fantastic reputation in her community for her neighbourliness – she was always offering practical help, or food, or running errands- always with a story to share and an ear to listen. Her long-standing friendships with Mrs Oglive, Miss Pazel, Aunty Kate and most recently with Gorinder and Callum are a testimony to how hospitable she was. Krish and Sara were always encouraged to bring friends round, and they were all introduced to tasty spicy cuisine. Probably many of the curry houses in Brighton are in business today because of the crowds who developed a taste for spicy food at 5 wellington road.
June had many other social outlets – her work as a warden at Viaduct Court, her work with Help the Aged and her volunteering at the Salvation Army coffee shop with Phyllis. This was work she enjoyed, and she was faithful and friendly.
Her arthritis slowed her down more than she liked, but this did not stop June from tending the garden that she loved, or travelling all over the world from Albania to Alaska, from Sri Lanka to Spain, or pursuing her talents for letter-writing, drawing and card-making. She loved spending time with her four grandchildren Joel, Luke, Anna and Elly and two great-nephews Joshua and Jaeyen, encouraging them to be creative, laughing with them and playing Rummikub, Guitar Hero and Settlers as though she would never tire of it.
During the last three and half years, June battled bravely with her cancer. However much it took its toll on her body, she continued to look radiant, and engage in lively discussion. June was overwhelmed by the love and support she had through these difficult days from her husband Bala and daughter Sara. In the week since she passed away, tributes have flooded in from all around the world. June is consistently described as a lovely, vibrant, generous lady and faithful friend who was much loved, and will be much missed.