SCHOOL teacher, long-distance runner, unofficial guidance counsellor, sports coach, community worker – Minnie Trimalley, 64, packs a lot into her little frame.
Although she was born in Queenstown, Trimalley grew up in Schauderville where she attended Paterson High and completed her teacher training at Dower College in Uitenhage.
She has been a teacher at Hillcrest Primary for 44 years and is the longest serving teacher. She is the head of department in the junior phase.
At school Trimalley, who never married, excelled in netball and hockey. In the ’80s her interest changed to gym and it was the owner of the gym in Gelvandale, Moegmat Agherdien, who introduced her to roadrunning, and she has never looked back.
Comrades, Two Oceans, Settlers Ultra (60km form Port Alfred to Grahamstown) and numerous other races followed.
She regards the Marina Salt 50km Ultra as the most gruelling race as it is run during the summer months.
Trimalley has represented the province in cross-country events in her age category on several occasions. One of the highlights of her long career was representing South Africa in the 1500m at the World Veterans and Masters championships in Durban in the ’90s.
Trimalley is more than just a teacher in Helenvale, which is one of the most impoverished areas in the city. “I am very involved with the community in and around the school,” Trimalley said.
“I assist parents and pupils with social problems like referrals for child abuse, including negligence and sexual abuse.
“I also help parents with applications for grants, child support and pensions.”
She tells the story of an incident while she was on a training run early one morning.
“I came across five children between six and 12 scratching in dirt bags for food – none of them had been to school.”
She immediately went into action and had the children enrolled at her school.
“Sadly due to challenging domestic circumstances only three managed to complete primary school,” Trimalley said.
“However I can look back with pride, knowing that all of them can at least read and write.”
While the environment at the school is challenging because of the socio-economic conditions, Trimalley says she will not trade it for the world.
“My passion for my work and commitment towards a better future for our kids, carries me through day after day.”