“ Address: Romford Ice Arena, Rom Valley Way, Romford, Essex, RM7 OAE / Tel: 01708 724731 „
I believe ice skating is a lovely pastime for both adults and children. Unfortunately it's something I cannot do owing to foot problems. I did try when I was just in my teens, and with ankle supports provided, managed to skate a little. I didn't try again for years and, sadly for me, it is one of those things that proves impossible for me. Still, I'm happy to be a spectator and always enjoy watching others have fun. I can even have a giggle at the show offs who land on their backsides on the ice. Not that I have a warped sense of humour or anything. I have been to Romford Ice Arena many times. My children have attended parties here, and have also enjoyed some of their own ice skating parties at the rink. It's a popular place and, as there aren't very many ice skating rinks in this country, the few that exist will attract people from a considerable distance. LOCATION Romford's Ice Arena is conveniently situated on Rom Valley Way, Romford, in Essex. It is nearby to the recently built Queen's Hospital and the Brewery Shopping and entertainment Centre. It is close to Romford Rail station and several bus routes. Romford is close to London and to neighbouring Essex (greater London) boroughs. If driving here then you will be pleased to know that the arena has a large car park. EXTERIOR AS one drives in to the large car park you will see a large building resembling a warehouse. Not all that inviting but built for the purpose. INSIDE Don't expect anything posh. Remember to bring warm clothes, even if not skating. In fact you will probably be colder if spectating as the temperature in the building is understandably cool. Around the rink is tiered seating. The last time I was here, there was quite a lot of graffiti around. Although all ages use the facilities, I have found it predominantly used by teenagers and older children on weekends, during the general skating sessions. Lockers are available for personal possessions such as shoes, bags etc. DISABLED FACILITIES Apart from the seating the building is on one level therefore wheelchair access is quite good. Apparently, wheelchair users, those with disabilities and their cares are welcomed during some of the 'family Fit' sessions, held on two separate weekdays and Sunday mornings (price £4.50). For further information please see: http://www.romfordicearena.co.uk/ OPENING TIMES The arena seems to me to have good opening times but some of the times may be special events and activities so it is always worth checking on these either on the website or by phone. PRICES It is also advisable to check prices as they vary from session to session. There are offers and family rates are available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6.30pm to 8pm. The prices include the hire of the skates. This will cost about £24.00 for a family of four, being two adults and two children. Different rates apply for differing family sizes. I have been here of an evening and if the children are old enough to be u skating at this time it is a pleasant time to go, probably preferable to a Saturday or Sunday as there are usually m a higher number of adults rather than unattended youths. ICE HOCKEY Romford's Ice Hockey Team, the Romford Raiders use this as their home rink. For details on the Raiders please see: http://www.romfordraiders.co.uk/ As well as following the Romford Raiders children can learn the sport here. Currently the teams are as follows: Romford Rascals (Under 10's) Romford Raptors (Under 12's) Romford Hurricanes (Under 14's) Romford Hornets (Under 16's) Romford Fury (ED2) English National League Senior Development team Romford Tornadoes (Recreation Team) I can't say that I am that interested in this sport but do think it probably is a good one to try. A Scandinavian friend has been to the Romford Ice Arena to watch the team. Apparently it's a popular sport in Sweden so staves off the feeling of homesickness. As well as playing in a team there are short courses available. THE NOVICE SKATER My children have in fact picked up the technique themselves by attending events here, but it must be a good and enjoyable activity to learn. I have seen some lessons taking place and the children seemed to be having great fun. Children can be taught from the age of four upwards. It costs £45 for children and a little more for adults, for a course which lasts for six weeks. Details are to be found on the website. PARTY ANIMALS? As Romford isn't too far by car from our area, I found when my children were younger that the skating parties were very popular. The parties have to be booked a little in advance as they are in demand. At the moment it costs £15 per c person which includes the hire of skates, two course meal and drink. It is a few years since my children were involved in a party here but the format used to be all children meet in the foyer and then a party organiser will sort out their skate, ask what they want to eat from a suitable menu (typical fast food fare). Once sorted, they will have a go on the ice. The rink will be open to the public at this time but an area will be sectioned off and an ice skating marshal will help all guests and often a sledge will be bought onto the ice to provide even more fun. After a reasonable amount of time on the ice they will be taken over to their reserved table in the café area and served the food which they had ordered. I used to take along a birthday cake. There is also a dedicated room available but I would think this probably costs extra to hire. The success of the party can depend somewhat on the host in charge. If you have enthusiastic one, then the party can really go with a swing. We've usually been lucky; they will put the candles on the cake bring it out with candles lit and after everyone sings 'Happy birthday,' take it away to cut for the guest's party bags. There is usually time to go back on the ice. Invitations are provided by the rink and so are party bags. I don't think party bags used to be included. TEENAGE FUN Not sure if this is just for teenagers. My son used to have a great time going along to the Friday evening foam party held here, on the ice. It was a fun event, where he and his friends could get together without alcohol being involved, and enjoy some harmless fun. He had to remember to take a change of clothes as this foam party can make the participants rather wet and cold for the bus journey home. CAFÉ The café is a typical fast food type of outlet serving sausages, burger and chips and so on. There is a vegetarian option of nuggets, and pizza is also available. I've never found the food to be wonderful but the children seem to get stuck in. It is nice to be able to offer those parents who stayed to give ahand, a cup of tea or coffee. OTHER FACILITIES I haven't seen these but have been told that the ice arena lets out room for parties/functions and clubs. There is even a licensed bar for hire. FURTHER DETAILS Website: http://www.romfordicearena.co.uk/ Address: Romford Ice Arena Rom Valley Way Romford Essex RM7 OAE Telephone: 01708 724731 SUMMARY Although I have only been a very interested spectator on the ice at the Romford Ice Arena, I have been here many times and consider it to be wonderful facility for those living in the borough of Havering and beyond. In this day and age it is necessary to encourage our youngsters to be active and to move away from the computer or television. Ice skating is a good exercise which is fun to learn all year round whatever the weather. However, I would have found it too expensive an activity to allow my children to participate in on a very regular basis.