(Photo Courtesy of the Isle of Wight County Press)
Ryde Arena is an important asset to the community on the Isle of Wight. It gives kids a chance to learn a skill that can take them on an amazing journey. I consider myself an example of this.
I started to learn to skate at the age of 5, going to the Galaxy Gliders group lessons with my Father and sister. It was a family outing every week as my mum too would be right there watching us. Growing up I spent most of my early mornings on the ice with my couch Terri Smith, working hard in order to achieve my dream of going to the British Championships. In the evenings I would be there skating again or playing the sport that I also loved. Ice Hockey. I was lucky enough to spend my whole childhood doing both sports at a good competitive level.
I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my family. My parents would be up early taking me to my lessons or coming on road trips for both hockey games and competitions
all over the country. My father even opened a store at the arena so that I could continue to do both and get the equipment needed so I could be competitive and have the right protection.
When I became older I picked up a few shifts at the arena as a steward at the Wightlink Raiders games before getting a few more shifts working on the ice, reception and cafe. I really spent most of my life there.
After my final year of sixth form my intentions were to continue working and to train hard and try to get into the British championships. However this is when I received a great opportunity from Feld Entertainment that produce Disney On Ice. I was sitting in the office at the arena at the time and I was in two minds about it. If it wasn't for the staff and my parents I would have missed out on what has become a great adventure. Since joining Disney On Ice I have had the opportunity to perform in some amazing countries: America, Dubai, Brazil, Argentina to list a few. Now that the rink has closed I fear that kids that could have had an opportunity like mine will not be able to take it because there is nowhere for them to train.
Figure skating and ice hockey have been two of the most successful sports the Isle of Wight has produced for a long time. If you ever read the Isle of Wight County Press you would have seen on the back pages how good the island is at both sports. The island has very little too offer young kids. Without an ice rink there is one less place fort kids to take part in healthy physical activity and make new friends doing so. I met some of my best friends at the ice rink.
I stress that Ryde Arena is an important asset to the community and one that urgently needs to be reinstated.
(Photo courtesy of the Isle of Wight County Press, Archie at 11)