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Volunteer Elaine keeps Ice Skating history alive and kicking

Brilliant volunteer and resident NISA Historian Elaine Hooper has been spreading the word about our sport’s fantastic and intricate history for many years.


Elaine has even appeared on a BBC Documentary, was on The One Show, and has showcased some of NISA’s stunning historical artefacts on the Antiques Roadshow.


Elaine, who is based in Southampton, started skating when she was seven years old and continued all the way into her university studies in Liverpool.


When work and family commitments took over, she would take a break from the ice, returning to a rink when she enrolled her young children in a Learn-to-Skate course in the 1980s.


It wasn’t long before Elaine was offering a helping hand as a volunteer to judges at competitions, and found herself becoming more and more involved in various committees. She started volunteering as Judges' Steward at open events.


When the Southampton Ice Rink suddenly closed Elaine began making the long trip to Bracknell with her daughter, who continued skating there with a friend.


Keen to support the sport she had come to love, Elaine wanted to help start a club at the new rink, so became a committee member and Competition Secretary.


Elaine quickly learned to calculate results and helped train others to do the same. Soon she was attending other national events, following encouragement from referee Pam Davis at the time.


She became a key part of the admin team at many big events such as the British and World Championships, and continued to help in this way for around 15 years.


As well as offering invaluable help at large competitions, Elaine also had a keen interest in the history of UK ice skating, and had often expressed it at events.


In 2007 Elaine received an invitation from NISA to become the organisation’s Historian. She would go on to help spread the word about ice skating’s fascinating history in a number of ways.


Elaine said: “I only began volunteering because I’ve always wanted to make sure I was involved with the activities my children enjoyed.


“Thanks to the encouragement of some brilliant people along the way, I began getting much more heavily involved. It has been a privilege to be part of large scale events in the UK.


“In 2007 NISA hadn’t had an Historian and Archivist for a few years, following the death of Dennis Bird. He had a tremendous reputation all over the world.


"He was also a member of various NISA committees as well as carrying out his job as a journalist for The Times.


“When I retired from my day job I received a letter from the NISA Board asking if I would be interested in taking up the vacant honorary position.


“I knew it would be a difficult task to follow in Dennis’ shoes, but I accepted and have been NISA’s Historian ever since.


“I had to start from scratch but was grateful to receive help and advice from Sandra Stevenson, the skating journalist who put me on the right track, and Richard Stevens, who has amassed a wonderful library of skating books.


“I have now collected so much in the pursuit of skating history that it takes up the whole of a spare bedroom, and has over-spilled into other rooms as well!”


Elaine has since written multiple articles on the history and heritage of ice skating in the UK, the most recent of which you can find here.


She also provided research for and appeared on a BBC Documentary called ‘The Secret Life of Ice’ in 2012.


She went on to be invited on the One Show in the same year and later appeared on Antiques Roadshow in 2016, where she brought along some of NISA’s treasured skating artefacts.


Left to right: Elaine stands with Diana Stevens and Fiona Bruce on the Antiques Road Show

She added: “I often receive requests form authors, bloggers and the media in general for help with research.


“I was pleasantly surprised when the maker of a BBC documentary called ‘The Secret Life of Ice’ contacted me. After I had carried out their requested research, they invited me to appear in the documentary.


“On the programme, I briefly mentioned the Thames Frost Fairs, and was then further surprised when I was invited to talk in more detail about the Thames freezing and the Frost Fairs on The One Show.


“I was very well looked after by the BBC and did the interview on a boat travelling along the Thames from The Tower of London.


“I have also taken some NISA artefacts to The Antiques Roadshow. Diana Stevens and I appeared with Fiona Bruce at the end of an episode with Queen Mary's Ice Skates.


“The programme was filmed at one of Queen Mary's former homes, White Lodge, in Richmond Park. Now the home of the Royal Ballet School.


“Of course, there are many people who have helped me enormously and to list them I fear I may offend someone by missing them out.


"But I would like to mention Jean Scott, Diana Stevens and Jacquie Harbord, who are such great sources of information, and the late Pam Davis, as without her encouragement and the opportunities she provided I would not be doing this today.


“I have loved every second as a volunteer. It does require a bit of commitment but it is also immensely enjoyable.


“Every little helps but we should remember that the Judges and Techs are all volunteers - without their time and commitment to our sport, tests and competitions would not be possible.”


The National Ice Skating Association is supported by a fantastic network of volunteers, including the entire judging and officials team.


We can’t say a big enough "thank you" to all the volunteers who put time and effort into supporting ice skating.


We’re always looking to welcome more on board, if you’re interested in becoming a NISA volunteer please contact kirstie.robinson@iceskating.org.uk