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Skating legend Robin Cousins launches £30m ice centre

Emdad Rahman

OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST and former Dancing on Ice judge Robin Cousins has launched the £30m Lee Valley Ice Centre in front of an exclusive group of skaters, school children and other stakeholders.

The elegant world class centre, which opened to the general public on Saturday 17th June, is one of only three in the country, and the first in the Southeast, to have two Olympic-sized rinks. It also has a gym, dance studios, community spaces and a café. It 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 £1.5 million 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 £30 million 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.

Olympic Gold Medallist and President of British Ice Skating, Robin Cousins said: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. Having these two Olympic size 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 launch featured a range of skaters, including Adie Caston, whom 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 provides 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, said: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 that we have gone beyond simply protecting the old centre, to having 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.”

Grace Williams, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We’re very excited about the opening of the new Lee Valley Ice Centre on Lea Bridge Road. It is going to be absolutely fantastic having such a world class venue in our borough and, as well as having these incredible facilities on our doorstep, I’m really pleased that Lee Valley Ice Centre will also play a key role in supporting the community. The venue is going to become a focal point for so many people, with the council helping fund a range of community-based programmes working with young people and a whole host of different local groups.”

British Ice Skating – the sport’s National Governing Body – is launching its new Skate UK course at Lee Valley Ice Centre. Designed for all ages, and delivered by British Ice Skating qualified coaches, Skate UK will teach 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 ten 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 ten 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 in 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 £1.5 million-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 is by GLL. Skating for an adult is £10 and for under 18s is £8. Skate hire is £3. Bookings, and full information, including gym and exercise classes, is at:

More information on British Ice Skating’s Learn to Skate programme is at:

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