Tue, 09 Jul 2019
GET your skates on down to Thatcham as a new Ice Sports Centre has opened in town.
The centre will provide skating, figure skating and ice hockey training and coaching to people in the area who may not have the opportunity to do so otherwise.
Business owner David Rawlings said that one of the biggest reasons for opening in the area was to benefit the local community.
He said: “I grew up in an ice rink so I understand... I want to push this out to kids who don’t have that opportunity.
“We could have that hidden talent out there. You will never find if they’re not given the opportunity.”
Mr Rawlings said that the centre would be working with schools and youth groups to encourage children to take up ice sports.
He said: “Ice hockey and figure skating are quite restricted, very costly sports.
“We are working with schools, going into assemblies and inviting them here.
“They can have a go at playing ice hockey or figure skating in a structured way.”
Mr Rawlings’ business partner Annie Smith said: “I definitely think there’s a demand.
“Everything in Thatcham is oversubscribed for children.
“It’s giving them an opportunity to do something that they wouldn’t normally be able to do.”
The centre, based in Unit 2, Pipers Court, off Berkshire Drive, features an ice rink, synthetic ice rink, interactive training and video room, and a physio room and nutrition suite.
The facility can host no more than 30 people at a time, with Mr Rawling saying that the coaching ratio would be around 1:8 to offer quality training.
The centre is looking to work with local companies to provide scholarship funding so that it can support people wanting to take up ice sports.
Among the staff employed at the new centre is professional figure skater Lucy Ann Walker, from Thatcham.
Mr Rawlings said that there were a lot of professionals in the area, but they currently needed to travel elsewhere to train.
As part of its application to build the centre, the company said that there were limited facilities for ice sports training in UK, adding that the closest public rinks are in Swindon and Basingstoke.
Although the centre is not a public rink, Mr Rawlings said that people would have the option to go in five times as a non-member.
If they want to continue and develop their skills, they can become a member, which costs £63.95 a year for over-17s and £56.95 for under-17s.
Registration is free for under fives.
The centre had originally looked at opening at New Greenham Park, but missed out.
The Ice Sports Centre was officially opened by Thatcham mayor Mike Cole on Saturday, June 22.