Trip Down Memory Lane

Reporter: Pat Ashworth

The Club trip to Sauze was 40 years on from the first coach-load sized Club holiday, which was to Sauze. On that occasion, we stayed at the Hotel Derby, and had to get out of the coach on the way uphill as the coach was struggling. Bill Matthews and I were on both holidays. One of the main memories of Sauze is the trauma of the Lago Nero lift which was a T bar - very long with a narrow track up through the woods. We were scared stiff of falling off as there wasn't enough room to ski back down.

The Manchester Club had been formed a few years previously, growing out of the SCGB exercise classes at John Dalton College, organised by local SCGB Rep Gerald Wilmer, who had amassed the princely sum of about £90 from the takings. Mike and Marianne Tann (remember their barbecues in Rainow?) and Barbara and Harvey Scholes were instrumental in developing the idea of a local club affiliated to the SCGB. We used the takings to buy 6 pairs of grass skis, broom poles to use as ski sticks and a portable wire tow, and started skiing at Werneth Low, trying to avoid the hazards of cow pats and thistles.

The people who attended the exercise classes tended to be SCGB members, many of whom also belonged to the Inter-Varsity Club (IVC), ice skaters from Altrincham, and people who used to go to Scotland by minibus with Small Group Travel or Brighams. We would meet at the cathedral after work, and travel up to the Cairngorms, arriving with the dawn chorus.

We had had a few holidays with smaller numbers, mainly the intrepid minibus skiers, before Ursula and Peter Whitehead organised the big trip. Following the Sauze holiday, Harry and I organised the non-child holidays until about 1990. The end of season party at our house was the time when we all met to agree on the following season. A bit different now, with decisions being made a whole year or more in advance. We often arranged two-centre holidays, giving people a choice between two resorts or both. Barry and Jonquil moved back to the area when Jonquil was expecting Gavin, and they became the mainstay of a school holiday trip for families and teachers, using coach travel and self-catering facilities. As families have grown up, we seem to have lost the opportunity to grow our own skiers, as no one else has come forward to arrange anything in school holidays.

It was lovely to see how, despite the fact that many of us are of pensionable age, the club is still thriving, clarifying its purpose and looking at ways to help others enjoy the experience of skiing. In Sauze there were a couple of competitive elements: who could go fastest or find the best off-piste, and who would soon be reaching an age to get a reduced price lift-pass. It was good to have Roy Formby with us. I enjoyed hearing his stories of early SCGB holidays, and to reminisce about the times he had skied with us. We had a holiday in Val just after Roy had met Whitney and he was making nightly phone calls to the new love in his life.