Hillheads celebrates 60 years at the heart of the community

Hillheads ice rink in Whitley Bay has been open to the public for more than a half a century.

To commemorate 60 years of ice sports in the town, rink owner Francis Smith has decided to put on the Best of British Skating Gala on Sunday, August 30, starting at 5pm.

Tickets are on sale at £4 each and all proceeds raised from the event are being donated to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Since 1955, thousands of youngsters and adults have spent time at the rink learning to skate, beginning to gain the necessary skills to play hockey and generally just enjoying all the benefits an ice rink can bring to the local community.

It is hoped that a good number of people will attend the gala including current and former skaters/hockey players, general sports fans and local North Tyneside residents so that everyone can come together and help celebrate 60 years of ice sports at Hillheads.

At the gala, routines will be performed by many of the rink’s current skaters as well as by former Hillheads skaters, many of whom have competed at both European and world level in the past.

One of the figure skaters taking part in the gala is the talented local lad David Richardson, who was British national champion back in 2011.

Richardson began skating in 1995 when he was only eight at Hillheads and trained at his local rink for many years before moving on to the east Midlands to train at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.

His involvement in the gala means a great deal to him personally as his family have encountered the devastating effect Alzheimer’s can have at first hand.

There will also be an ice hockey skills segment as part of the event, where members of Whitley Warriors’ junior development programme will take to the ice to demonstrate the skills they have learnt since they first took an interest in the game.

It is anticipated that a number of the current Warriors players and staff will also be involved in the hockey section of the gala.