Ellie Soutter: British snowboarder’s mother on losing her daughter

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By Katie Falkingham
BBC Sport
About Lorraine Denmans left forearm is a tattoo.
Ellie Soutter stands with her arms the waters of a river that is French lapping around her legs – looking out into the space.
It had been one of the favourite pictures, Lorraine says. I see joy, I see liberty.
One of the most talented snowboarders of Britain, ellie, was tipped at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics for victory.
But on 25 she chose her own life. It had been her birthday.
Life is totally vacant, Lorraine says. Ive a enormous void in my life.
It is like having the battery taken out of me. There is nothing and I am only running on empty
Ellie taken the flag in the closing ceremony and won bronze at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival. But, as her father Tony has told the BBC,financing played massively in her thoughts and that pressure took its toll.
In the days leading up to her death, Ellie – expected to attend training camp – had missed a flight, and as a result, felt shedlet down everyone.
Ellie has been another half of us, Lorraine informs BBC Breakfasts Sally Nugent. She had been very strong, very passionate about her own ideas, she was very driven and she was really articulate.
She knew exactly what she needed, even in a young age. She had her very own ambitions and her very own driveway .
Lorraine spoke to Ellie the day before her birthday, a conversation where she had been told by Ellie about the flight.
We managed to get things online, we had been speaking and I said to move home, to appreciate her evening and I would offer her a call the next day.
Alarm bells rang when neither Lorraine, nor her father, nor all of the friends of Ellie, would get hold of her.
As a mother, I knew something was not correct, Lorraine says.
A nurse in Hove, she left . As the day went , also Ellies phone remained unanswered, authorities in Les Gets – that the village – were known as and search parties deployed.
Lorraine known as Ellies daddy.
He didnt answer and he then called me back, she says.
I just said to himPerhaps you have noticed Ellie? Have you ever heard from her? , and he saidwe have discovered her.
For a split second, I believed she was alive. And then he explained:she is dead. He said:Lorraine, she is dead.
I got out of bed and I just dropped to the floor. Someone may as well have just taken out my heart.
That night, her husband and Lorraine walked on the streets for five full hours. What they watched or where they went, she has no recollection.
Fifteen weeks, she takes some time speak with her daughter daily and to maintain the ashes of Ellie. The tattoo on her arm allows her to feel near her child.
Sometimes, Ive heard tales, be it about the news Ive read it in the newspaper, of other individuals who have lost their children, and I believethose bad folks, she states.
Then all of sudden, it strikes me. Thats me. I am one of these people.
Ellie, in accordance with her mum,was a worrier.
She worried about people, she worried about money, she stressed aboutwas that I OK, was her dad OK? She stressed about if she was going to fulfill expectations.
Yet from the exterior, Ellie looked anything but a worrier. And this, for Lorraine, is what should berecognised.
She seemed like she had all, she says.
As parents, we have to take that as a responsibility as well, since it was easy for all of us to turn around and sayEllie, you have got nothing to worry about, what is going to be fine, youve got a lot to look forward to, youve got up this coming, you have got that, but actually, I think people have to listen and read between the lines
Lorraine adds:You can not wrap your kids in cotton wool, they are people and they have got minds of their own, however you may have enough the time to sit and listen to themor only take on board if theyve said something to you, dont just disregard it.
In the days following Ellies passing, her parents established the Ellie Soutter Foundation so as to assist young winter athletesreach their potential and dreams and to help end thevicious cycle around young athletes funding.
To datethe Foundation has two young snowboarders – Mia Brookes and Maisie Hill.
On a personal level, Lorraine has found the strength to tell her daughters story, in the hope it may help others. Ellies death, she says,cant be in vain.
I am a voice to get Ellie now, and I must proceed and make other people aware that she could not say how she felt for whatever motive, but that I can now encourage individuals to speak up, to discuss or to talk to their parents or their friends if they are having any problems, and I think that is what is pushing me .
Have I wished to quit? Quite honestly, yes. Whats the point in living without her? But she is me and I am her.
If Im going to represent her, then Im likely to get it done in the right way.
In case you or someone you know was affected with a mental health problem, assistance and support is available in bbc.co.uk/actionline

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