The closure of Ryde Arena and the ensuing loss of skating and ice hockey was a double blow to my family as it affected both my grandchildren - my grandaughter Toni is a figure skater and my grandson Danny a Jnr. hockey player.
Toni started skating in 2009 - aged 6 - and took to it like a duck to water. In 2012 she started competing, entering 3 competitions that year and winning Gold in all 3. As her confidence and skills grew she joined synchro. skating, skating with the Wight Sparkles and Wight Crystals. She worked long and hard and the day before the rink closed she passed her NISA Level 7 test. Like many others she now travels to the mainland to train but she cannot put in enough time to practice and so her dream of competing in the British Nationals, perhaps becoming a coach herself or even one day representing Great Britain are fading.
Danny also started skating in 2009 - aged 4. He first played for Solent & Gosport - his home rink then - in the Under 10's, then in 2011 - after they moved to the Island - he joined the Tornados Under 12's. In 2014 he returned to play for Solent and Gosport and was 1 of 2 Island players at the Sheffield Ice Academy Under 10's tournament. In 2015 he was selected to play for the South West Conference Under 11's Conference team playing matches in Sheffield and even travelled to Geleen (Holland) for a tournament. Also in 2015 he was signed to play for Basingstoke's Under 13 team playing at the highest level for his age, however the travelling for training proved too much and he returned to play for Solent & Gosport and then in 2016 he returned to play for the Junior Raiders U13's and U.15's. He had hoped that one day he would wear a Great Britain hockey kit but sadly - like his sister's dreams - that dream is slowly fading.
It's so sad that my grandchildren's high hopes and dreams for a the future in a sport they love could be dashed so mercilessly. One day I hope that skating/hockey will return to the Island so our children and future generations can fulfill their dreams.