We would like to thank the roller derby community for all of the kind words, gestures and support you have given to us and Louise’s family over the past few weeks. Here are the words spoken by our captain, The Atkins Riot, at Louise’s funeral:
I’ve been asked to speak on behalf of Nottingham Roller Girls, as we’ve had the privilege of skating with Louise, or Louisey Rider as she was known, since she joined in 2011. Right from the start, when those around her flailed around uncontrollably like Bambi on roller skates, she somehow managed to make it look so effortlessly easy and quickly established herself as a star in our A Team.
That’s not to say that her success came about by chance. Whilst undoubtedly naturally talented, Lou was relentless in her pursuit of perfection and would often insist on practising something just one more time even though everyone around her would clearly be exhausted. In her spare time, she constantly sought new ways to improve her fitness and inspired those around her to do the same. She became the standard to which we all aspired and made me and others want to be better.
Her prowess was recognised in the form of regular awards. We can’t as a team remember a bout where she didn’t either win the “best jammer” or “most valuable player” award. With typical humility, Louise was convinced that she was only winning the awards because people voted for the girl with outlandish face paint and sparkly clothes, to the point she stopped wearing anything that would mark her out, to see if the awards kept coming. They did. Partly because she was so talented, and partly because she didn’t need face paint and sparkly hot pants to shine.
Her passion for the team extended as passion for the sport. She travelled to America to learn more about Roller Derby and was a regular at the major public events like the Men’s World Cup. Most people attending this had the forethought to take food and drink for the day, but not Louise. Our one woman portable party had a back pack filled with fancy dress and a contraband bottle of amaretto. It was also at this event that disappointed by the lack of an organised after party, Louise took it upon herself to single-handedly talk a bar manager into not only staying open late but to also call more staff in to help.
This was the power of Louise’s infectious enthusiasm for everything. She could talk with such passion that you couldn’t help but be swept up by it, and be persuaded to do some truly ridiculous things like the Insanity workout challenge or not washing your hair. She was proud of how she had not washed her hair for about 3 months and she could wax lyrical about how empowered and liberated she felt as a result. Naturally, many of her friends were talked into following her example although I suspect that we’re probably single-handedly keeping the dry shampoo industry afloat.
The first time I spent a prolonged period of time with Louise was when Ruth, her and I travelled to a London boot camp. She spent the entire four hour journey discussing how to publicise the team. The after party at this event was to be themed around rock stars and naturally, Lou’s fancy dress box travelled down with us. Whilst Ruth and I opted for daft looking wigs, Lou emerged from her room (late, as usual) dressed as rock-princess, Courtney Love. Unfortunately upon arrival, we soon realised that no-one else had got the message about it being fancy dress. Suffice to say, Ruth and I stood at the door mortified. It was dreadful. By the time we finished cringing, we looked round and found Lou gone. When we found her, she was in the thick of it, already surrounded by new fans, laughing it off.
Skaters from around the world have contacted us to pay tribute to her, all commenting about how friendly and smiley she was regardless of whether you were playing alongside or against her. When I asked people on the team for stories about Louise, everyone had something wonderful to share. She really was a truly remarkable friend, who as someone pointed out, really did make you feel like you were the only other person in a room when she came to talk to you, yet at the same time managing to ensure everyone was included. She was an incredible listener who when you told her a story, she would immerse herself into it and feel it with you. Many people recalled how a kind word or a compliment from Lou inspired them and how much those words meant from someone they admired immensely.
We are all poorer for losing Louisey Rider. But we were enriched as a team for her presence and her friendship.
Take care my lovely, wherever you now roll.