Olympic gold medalist Robin Cousins will launch the £30million Lee Valley Ice Centre on Wednesday to an exclusive group of skaters, school children and other stakeholders.
The elegant world class centre, which will open to the general public on Saturday June 17 is one of only three in the country, and the first in the South East, to have two Olympic-sized rinks.
It also has a gym, dance studios, community spaces and café, and will be a new community hub for East London alongside the award winning open spaces in Lee Valley Regional Park.
A welcome addition to sport and leisure facilities in the region it is expected to boost the local economy by as much as £1.5m annually and attract half a million visitors a year, double that of the old Lee Valley Ice Centre which, after 37 years, could not cope with demand.
It has been completed within budget and features extensive environmental, landscaping and biodiversity improvements. It is the culmination of a £30m investment by venue owner Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, with support from the London Borough of Waltham Forest, to create a world leading ice venue on the site of the old Lee Valley Ice Centre on Lea Bridge Road, Leyton.
“I skated at the opening gala of the old Lee Valley Ice Centre in 1984. It’s fantastic to see that journey continue with this stunning new state of the art space – the perfect place to launch Skate UK, our new national learn to skate programme,” said Cousins, President of British Ice Skating.
“Having these two Olympic-sized rinks in London is a game changer and I’m sure they will attract thousands of people of all ages and abilities, from world level competitors, community groups and families, to the first timers, who will experience the joy of ice skating and all it has to offer.”
The June 14 launch will feature a range of skaters, including Adie Caston who Robin coaches, the Lee Valley Lions ice hockey teams, coaches, some of the first people who skated at the old centre and schoolchildren – all getting onto the pristine ice for the first time.
The centre will attract customers from a range of communities from across the region giving them the chance to use elite level facilities and enjoy public skating sessions where anyone can come and try skating. It provide future stars with a much-needed place to train, as some currently travel up to four hours for on-the-ice coaching sessions and it will be home to ice hockey and synchronised skating clubs.
Shaun Dawson, chief executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, added: “The stunning new Lee Valley Ice Centre replaces our much loved old venue which had, for 37 years, provided a wonderful place for people of all ages, especially young people, to meet, socialise and stay active.
“At a time when many sport and leisure facilities across the country are at risk of closure, I’m so proud we have gone beyond simply protecting the old centre, to have instead more than doubled the capacity and created a truly inspirational venue that is at the cutting edge of leisure with world class facilities that will support physical and mental wellbeing for generations to come.”
British Ice Skating – the sport’s National Governing Body – is launching its new Skate UK course at Lee Valley Ice Centre which is designed for all ages and is delivered by British Ice Skating-qualified coaches, teaching everything from basic ice skating skills, speed skating, ice dancing and synchro and is expected to further extend the reach and appeal of ice skating which has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years thanks to popular shows like Dancing on Ice.
A range of programmes including a Targeted Crime Prevention Programme, Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme, Biodiversity Awareness Education Programme and an Employment and Apprenticeship Scheme, will run for 10 years with the support of £1m funding from the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
In addition Lee Valley Regional Park Authority will deliver a £250,000 Community Engagement Programme over the next 10 years too. The fund will support access to the venue for community groups and schools across Waltham Forest and Hackney and will give 68,000 people the opportunity to participate different activities and take part in biodiversity learning programmes at the new venue free of charge.
Lee Valley Ice Centre will be the most sustainable ice venue in the UK, combining innovative architectural features and £1.5million-worth of landscaping, planting and environmental improvements. It uses solar panels, wastewater recycling and has fully electric operations. It is constructed using gabion baskets, which have built in nesting and bat boxes and is surrounded by meadows and new trees to attract and support wildlife and local biodiversity.
It will be open seven days a week from 6am-10pm and operated by GLL, with skating costing £10 for an adult and £8 for under-18s, while skate hire is £3.
Bookings, and full information, including gym and exercise classes can be found at www.better.org.uk/ice-centre and more information on British Ice Skating’s Learn to Skate programme is at: www.iceskating.org.uk/learn-to-skate