The Isle of Wight has over 40 years history of supporting talented young islanders to become national and international competition winning skaters. Although, the Ryde Arena ice rink closed in 2016, Wight Ice Leisure, the charity established to reopen a rink, has provided financial support to enable young ice skaters and ice hockey players to train on the mainland and compete successfully. This support is continuing and young island skaters are still travelling weekly to Gosport (and other rinks across the mainland).
Wight Ice Leisure is now rebranding as Ryde Community Development Trust to support the wider community of Ryde. The Trust is working closely with Ryde Town Council on a range of projects such as a new skate park on the Esplanade, accessibility on the Ryde beaches and a community garden.
The Trust, however, will always at its core support the historic success story of ice skating and hockey on the Island. Wight Aid has awarded a grant to the Trust to develop an ice skating programme. This will not only support existing skaters to travel to the mainland to train and compete but provide travel assistance opportunities for non-skaters to have taster skating sessions at Gosport Ice Rink.
Cllr Michael Lilley, Chair of Ryde Community Development Trust says:
“Ice skating and hockey are part of the DNA of Ryde, and it was a very sad day when the ice rink closed. Wight Ice Leisure (now RCDT) has tried hard to get a new rink back but importantly it has made sure our talented young skaters and ice hockey players are supported to realise their dreams. Wight Aid’s grant enables us to continue this.”
Although, it has been announced that Isle of Wight Distillery is now purchasing the Arena Lease, RCDT still hopes one day a new ice rink will come back to the Island.
Robbie Jones, a trustee and a former ice hockey player says:
“This grant keeps alive ice skating and hockey as an available sport for young islanders. We welcome the news of Mermaid bringing back the empty Arena into productive and job creating use. However, the trust still has a long-term objective of one day a new multi-purpose sports facility with an ice rink is opened in Ryde. Without the Ryde Arena, I would not have gone onto university and gained employment, it was life changing for me and I don’t want to see other young people’s dreams and opportunities dashed.”
The grant is already supporting a group of young women regularly travelling to train at Gosport Ice Rink.
Nichola Roe, local business woman and trustee says:
“Wight Aid’s grant is very important as the Island really has talented young skaters and could in the future. The cost of travel is such a barrier and this financial help goes a long way. The grant will also enable young islanders who don’t have the opportunity to skate gain that experience.”
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The Picture above is Young Island Skaters training at Gosport Ice Rink. Skaters left to right are: – Jess Curtis, Jess Gruber, Eloise Hayward, Tegan Evans, Carmen Menzies – all members of Solent Skating Club.