There’s definitely something odd about chasing after a 77-year-old woman. Especially when said pensioner is at top speed on a scooter.
Luckily Sandra Coombs, almost exclusively known around Kingston as Scooter Granny, doesn’t think I’m a mugger and stops for a (breathless on my part) chat and even a bit of a sing-song in Latin.
Even more luckily, she agrees to meet again to tell the story behind the handlebars.
A week later she wheels up to Penrhyn Road through fierce wind and rain, politely refraining from scooting on the reception carpets.
Asked if she’s ever been blown off her scooter, the hardy woman replies: “I’ve seen worse than this. It’s been a year of rain, rain, rain, but I’m used to it.”
What’s with the scooter?
What’s with the Micro scooter? “It gives me exercise and I can also get my shopping with it. I love the open air and the breeze,” she said.
Sandra, who won an award for sustainable travel in 2008, looks proudly at her trusty steed.
“I saw this one in John Lewis, it has a lovely wide wheel, so much better than the other ones, so I bought it. It’s lovely, I’m thrilled to bits,” she explains.
‘Kingston University Memes’ Facebook page
Sandra hasn’t seen the Facebook page, Kingston University Memes that shot her to fame, but is more than aware of her title.
Sandra says the name and fame don’t bother her: “If it amuses people and people enjoy looking at it, then that’s up to them.”
Most Kingston students only know Sandra for her scooter. However, she’s had an incredible life, taking her from the 1966 World Cup final to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, until most recently graduating from Kingston University at the turn of the Millennium in her late sixties.
Scooter granny and Knights Park
“One day I was in the Market Place and someone handed me a piece of paper, and on it was all the subjects that I wanted: art, architecture, design history and Spanish. So I did them all. I was at Knights Park.”
Kingston University also helped Sandra study in Spain through the Erasmus scheme at Complutense University in Madrid.
She also helps out as much as she can with the Catholic Society at Kingston, even fronting the desk at Freshers’ Week in the past.
Scooting at night “is far too dangerous” so, after an hour long chat, Sandra rises to her feet, straps on her coat hood, grabs her beloved wheels, and rides off into the Penrhyn Road sunset. Until next time Scooter Granny, farewell.
See the full story in Friday’s issue of The River.