Alice Elaine Donnelly

Remembering Elaine — A tribute from her skiing friends

Helen says — Thank you, Everyone, for your many memories of times shared with Elaine. Here is a snapshot of Elaine, captured by the heartfelt phrases in how you have said you will remember her:

  • A lovely person, always happy, and cheery, will be sadly missed; always cheerful, helped me enormously!
  • Remembered with great fondness, will miss her company!
  • Lover of vin chaud, hot chocolate, and dancing at the Folie Douce!
  • Teaching children to ski, teaching children to sail!
  • Sharing her time with the children for evening events!
  • Loved (moving at) speed, ‘need for speed’!
  • Left a great legacy and one to be proud of!
  • Calm, easy going, considerate, outgoing, positive!
  • Great kindness, understanding, and generosity!
  • Guaranteed always to put a smile on your face!
  • Always ready to take on new challenges!
  • ’81 years young’!
  • Skills in so many strenuous activities - skiing, dancing, windsurfing, sailing… just amazing! So full of life!
  • Elaine brightened up the ski slopes on the greyest day!

‘Dancing at the Folie Douce’, and ‘boots on the wrong feet’ and her love of moving at speed were mentioned several times:

For example, Elizabeth writes: “One of the funny stories I remember (and witnessed) was the time she turned up to ski with her ski boots on the wrong feet!!! I can’t quite imagine how she managed that, but it was hilarious, and I think it happened because she couldn’t sleep the night before and had taken sleeping pills, so she was somewhat ‘groggy’ the next morning. It was very funny, but that was Elaine, — you could always guarantee she would put a smile on your face.”

Ernie Metcalfe recalls: Another memory is that I once came up behind her at traffic lights on the way to Chill Factore. As soon as the lights changed, she was off like a greyhound out of the starting gate. I could hardly keep up with her. She drove like she skied! She was always lovely to follow.

Chris Fildes — Combining some memories in the recent ski club newsletter, Chris writes: “It was quite a challenge to keep up with her on steep black runs, she was known for her need for speed. She will be remembered for her love of life, sense of humour and her laughter. I’ll treasure the memory of dancing on the tables with her at Le Folie Douce!”

…More from Chris: I remember Elaine, Ernie and I skiing the notorious ‘Tortin Wall’ in Verbier. When running out of piste, I sat on a large mogul, flipped my skis over to turn (hoping they hadn’t noticed), and when I caught up with them Elaine said ”definitely a case of downhill leg on that run.”
Oh, and Elaine loved Blue Himalayan Poppies, so I brought her some back from Perthshire.
… Sometime later, a little dismayed but giggling nonetheless, she said to me “Kevin’s been gardening again; he thought the poppies were weeds and he’s hoed them all up!”

Nigel Koenan recalls: Me, Elaine and Ray windsurfing in Aberdovey, Elaine gets into trouble, floats down estuary on tide. I tell Ray… he says "think I can manage two more runs before wind dies…" whilst I float down the Dovey with Elaine three miles to rock island, walk back to car and return to pick her and two boards up to arrive back to find Ray coming ashore… what a mouthful he got!!!!

Here follow some more of your individual thoughts, memories and anecdotes:

Brenda Smith recalls her memories of working with Elaine — with a strong emphasis on time outside the domestic science classroom!

Elaine joined me at what was Cheadle County Grammar School as Head of the Domestic Science Department in about 1974. She was soon a valued member of my ski team and for the next 15 yrs plus helped run the annual or sometimes bi-annual ski trips. It was great having her as she added her vast knowledge of skiing to our team and obviously showed us all what we should look like on a pair of skis.

We joined up with the boys’ school on these trips, and between us, took 80 children away each year. Brian Richards was a member of the boys’ team, which was led by David Turner. Each Tuesday we would pack up the mini-buses, and head to Rossendale where we set to, to make sure that all our children could get on a drag lift and do snowplough.

In the resorts we each had a group for instruction throughout the day. Unfortunately, we had to pick the children carefully when it came to tee-bars, as Elaine was smaller than a lot of the children, but by and large she overcame this with her usual cheerful efficiency.

Having left teaching in the early nineties, I met up with Elaine again by joining the Ski club and spent many happy years sharing rooms and skiing with her once again.

In Sauze she fell over and had slight concussion but came to with an expletive as she felt it had robbed her of a trip down the ladies downhill at Sansicario. Nothing daunted, after a quick cup of hot chocolate, not Vin Chaud, her usual tipple, she was raring to go again. I had to persuade everyone she was perhaps not in great shape for this escapade and as she fell asleep in the bath later, I felt my caution was justified.

In La Daille, Elaine one day arrived on the hotel front steps ready for the off with her boots on the wrong feet. Quite a feat in itself! Nothing daunted she rectified her mistake, got someone to carry her skis to the lift and skied for the rest of the day in the only way Elaine knew which was at full tilt. (several of you recounted this tale in your recollections)

Elaine and I were good friends for many years. I will miss her company. She was always cheerful and helped me enormously on the ski trips. She will also be remembered with great fondness by all the children she taught to ski. That is a great legacy and one to be very proud of.

Lindsay Harford: We knew Elaine from our earliest days as SCOM members. She was very friendly to us as new members and I recall how she helped me on our very first club holiday at Sauz D’Oulz. She and I both worked in Further Education and we enjoyed comparing experiences, usually over a glass of red wine!

You can’t think of Elaine without thinking sartorial elegance! From her gold, shiny ski jacket to her penchant for decorative shoes she was a statement dresser par excellence and brightened up the ski slopes on the greyest day!

Graham Wood… ‘A tribute from the past’

I met Elaine only briefly in latter years at the occasional SCOM events, but I had first met Elaine in the early 1990s, when she supported my Stockport schools Greek sailing trip.

She came as supervising teacher for Cheadle MD, and as crew. This involved giving up a week of Easter hols to help with 6/8 teenagers on a sailing yacht for this time of year.

I know on both occasions her Skipper appreciated her help onboard, and she showed her outgoing and positive qualities sharing time with all in the evenings, and contributing to these evening events.

Jacky Kay — I worked with Elaine for many years after she joined the staff of Cheadle Girls Grammar School. Always ready to take on new challenges Elaine moved from Head of Domestic Science to embrace new roles in Food Technology and take on sixth form pastoral support. Well organised and energetic, she was an effective and well respected member of staff. Colleagues were always amazed that alongside the demands of a week’s teaching, she also fitted in commuting to The Lakes each weekend to sail, walk and wind-surf returning refreshed for the start of the week, which included several nights of dancing classes. She joined several school skiing parties where her sporting skills were evident on the slopes and her good people skills and sense of humour a great contribution to the team. She will be a former colleague and friend whom I knew for over 40 years and I will remember fondly.

Sue Cleary: My personal experience of Elaine was relatively short. I only knew her from the time I started going on ski trips with the ski club in 2013. I shared a room with her about three times and certainly skied in the same group with her. Sharing a room with her was a pleasure because it was calm and easy as she was such a considerate person to share with. I think above all I remember her for her great kindness, understanding, and generosity. She had a great attitude to life — seize the day — that it was for enjoying as well as sharing happiness with others. Several times, I accompanied her to the Folie Douce above Meribel where she enjoyed the music, danced and shopped for her onesy and her Folie Douce T-Shirt.

Wendy Barlow: I have lots of memories of our lovely Elaine, videos of us dancing on tables at Folie Douce and many more. The last ski holiday with Elaine was when she decided to disappear in front of me and ended up off piste down from the edge of the slope — which was very scary for her and also for us, as there was no movement from Elaine. Brenda and David tried to get down to her, but couldn’t, so they sent me off to ski down to get help, not taking in to account that I had not got a clue where I was going! Eventually help arrived, and as I waited frantically at a lift station, I saw a little figure perched on the back of a skidoo hanging on to a very nice young man, so I ran across to find it was Elaine. I said “Where are you taking her?”, thinking he would have said “to the clinic to have her checked out” but a voice said “He is taking me down to get me a gluhwein!” — with the usual giggle Elaine always gave us!

Trudy Lymer writes: Years ago at fitness classes I think (George Carnall) or it may have been monthly meeting at the Unicorn. I'd just joined SCOM as my now husband was a member and I was looking to change my allegiance from a now defunct ski club. We clicked into a friendship straight away, although we didn't see each other so often because we lived on opposite sides of Manchester. But when we did, we enjoyed it. My last memory of her is all in daffodil yellow. I think it was at jonquil and Barry's, she told me that she was improving! It was good news to hear. Apart from ski club activities together, we have been on little walks and to cafes, simple but nice memories. Rest well Elaine you'll be missed.

Ernie Metcalfe recalls: A few happy memories of Elaine: I met Elaine on my first holiday with the ski club to La Tania in 2005. As new boys she took my son Michael and I under her wing, and we spent much of the week skiing with her. Thus was formed a very comfortable skiing friendship that lasted until we both stopped skiing at about the same time. We often skied in the same group on club holidays.

I will always think of her as “Miss Van Chaud” — her favourite drink on the slopes, accompanied by tarteflet at lunch time. At one pit stop we had I went and bought her usual van chaud without thinking. On giving it to her she gave me that lovely wistful smile of hers and said “I’ll have a hot chocolate”. She had both! Another time I asked her how to make a good, thick gravy. Knowing that she had been a domestic science teacher I thought there would be some good advice. It was “don’t fiddle around with flour and all the roasting juices, just go to Tesco’s and buy gravy granules, it’s much easier”.

Elaine was a very competent and stylish skier. She was not big in stature but big in spirit — really a little bombshell on the slopes. She had great stamina and would often ski by herself down the edge of the piste and then wait for us to catch up. It was a pleasure to ski with her and I am very glad I had the chance to share a sport we both loved.

Sue Donnelly, one of Elaine’s family who herself doesn’t ski, reading these ski memories of others, writes: “sounds like lots of happiness and fun was had. Elaine was never one to sit back and let life pass her by.”

Helen Richardson writes: My own enduring image of Elaine will always be of her skiing at speed down the side of the piste. So long as I could see her gold coloured ‘bum bag’, readily identifying her, however far she was ahead, I knew I was still on the right piste! So, for me, Elaine will always be skiing, into the distance…

The Funeral Service was held in line with current government restrictions

It was a simple funeral attended by close relatives only, and was videoed for the benefit of family and friends who were unable to attend. The memories shared in this newsletter were read out by an independent celebrant and these memories brought warmth and even touch of humour to the service which Elaine would have wanted.

Along with your memories and anecdotes, he explained that Elaine and Kevin had met through their mutual involvement in ballroom dancing. They had been married for 20 years, and on their marriage Elaine became step mother to Kevin’s three children and also a step grandmother!

The Music chosen was perfect: ‘The Power of Love’, ‘Halfway to Paradise’ and Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’ would be especially meaningful for husband Kevin.

There will be a memorial service for Elaine later this year.