Hello Geelong, prepare yourselves for the story of the well-known and everlasting character of Dame Edna Average.
Behind the costumes, jewellery, glasses and hats, which are a trademark, is a real true down to earth person, Elaine Valentine. She has been giving this character many entertaining outings for fundraising events for the past twenty years. Believe it or not, Elaine generously provided Dame Edna Average with something like over 200 performances.
Although Elaine is now 76, she would still dress up to the nines and be Dame Edna Average if invited. She would also arrive with loads of gifts to give away and play the part well, as she does. Any opportunity to decorate for Deb balls, fundraising events for rotary, commemorative events, and Australia Day, Elaine is there. She has had a long association of 60 years with Karingal., fundraising for them, even before they were an organisation. She was known for raising big money for the Karingal ‘Dress to Impress Balls’ for years. They were dazzling, happy times. Elaine gave tirelessly of her time, showered people and children with gifts, and had a creative flair for decorating spirit for any theme.
A highlight for Dame Edna Average in the Geelong Calendar, since 1940, was Gala Day. This was a well-remembered fun day for everyone, especially school children, because it was a declared a holiday. Gala Day involved much more than a day and the evening parade, crowds waited in anticipation. All the firemen with torches were a highlight of the evening parade, something so simple but the effect was extraordinary. Gala Day consisted of bands, dance groups and schools marching. Shops entered floats. It was a big time and an unforgettable occasion. Sideshow Alley, games, rides, wholesome fun, yummy goodies to eat, toys, magic balloons and dressing up in costumes was the way to go. Fairy floss was one of the top selling items. And who could forget the famous chocolate spinning wheel? Most importantly, it was all about fundraising for Geelong Hospital.
At the start of the Gala Day procession, it was always a tradition for nurses to carry their old-fashioned bedpans to collect money for the hospital. The year of 2001 Elaine was challenged into entering the parade as Dame Edna Average as there were prizes. She won the prize for Novelty. How exciting, and she donated the money back to the hospital.
Acting the Dame Edna Average character has been Elaine’s way of repaying Geelong Hospital for the four years of lifesaving medical total care treatment given for her recovery after a major accident. The funny side of winning the prize, was that no-one connected with the organization knew who Dame Edna Average really was. The following year she was discovered and presented with a beautiful trophy.
From that day on, Elaine always participated as Dame Edna Average. She has a very impressive collection of photos. Elaine was gorgeous, combined with her nature of giving in so many ways. A magical unforgettable task arrived for Elaine, year 2000. She was nominated for her constant charity work to carry the Olympic Torch.
Fundraising was her strength; when she made a decision to start a project, one would step aside and let her go. She was noted for these successful functions.
Australia Day January 26th, the location was always Rippleside or Geelong Waterfront from 1901 to 2001. All free to the public. Dame Edna Average was a Parade Winner again.
For many years she was a regular feature of the Wandana Heights Playgroup Christmas Party because Jacqui Bennett (Humans in Geelong Founder) had met her at the Gala Day Parade and just had to have her attending. This friendship grew and blossomed. That’s why Dame Edna Average stars at every Humans in Geelong Expo that have been held at Deakin Waterfront Campus. We love you Elaine, aka Dame Edna Average.
Simply sensational. Well done Dame Edna Average, Geelong salutes you. You are a hit.
Story: Elaine Janes. Photos: Supplied