Almost 6 months ago I lost a major part of my skating life. I lost a place where I had grown up, learnt some amazing skills and lessons, which I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Ryde Arena was more than a rink to me. It was a place where me and my friends could go to be together and to do something we loved. I started off with individual lessons and then very quickly became involved with the synchro teams which had been achieving huge success over the years with many becoming British Champions. The day I was asked to join the Wight Jewels was an amazing day! I loved waking up at 5 or even earlier in the morning so I could go training to achieve my dreams. We became 4 times British Champions and represented Great Britain 3 times at the World Championship. Two years ago the team decided to take the transition from junior to senior level, the highest level within synchronised skating.
With competitions just around the corner the most heartbreaking day arrived. Our rink was shut down without any warning by AEW UK. Determined to carry on despite having no local ice rink, synchro teams and solo skaters travelled hours to the mainland just to get some ice practice. When it came to the British Championships in January we went out to show everyone what we were made of without a home rink. We went in as the underdogs and nobody was expecting much from us without a rink. We stepped out onto the ice for our short programme and had two unfortunate falls. But the team did not want to give up, the long programme we knew was the most difficult we've had. With injury just before our first competition it had been a stressful lead up to the competition. We wanted to show everybody what we were made of skating an amazing long programme with all lifts going well and getting our death spirals called at Level 4. By the end of the programme I looked around and everybody within the team was crying as we were so proud of what we were able to achieve. So it was very emotional; we put our hearts into the performance placing an amazing 3rd place despite no rink.
Everyone is working so hard to get the rink reopened despite so many barriers being put in our way. From going to London to protest outside AEW, holding meetings and looking at a temporary rink we are doing everything possible. We are all determined not to let this be the end of Ryde Arena and the amazing community it holds around it. Nobody is doubting that it won't be hard but with community and everyone's support we are not giving up anytime soon.
Representing the Isle of Wight and Great Britain has been an absolute honour. I have some amazing memories and times I will never forget. Next year I am fortunate enough to be able to go and skate with a senior team in Brisbane Australia. I could not have achieved this without Ryde Arena and the amazing coaches and skaters who have helped and supported me every step of the way. Skating changed my life for the better. I wouldn't be the person I am today without it and Ryde Arena.