Why Murrayfield Ice Rink means so much to me and so many others - Annabel Mansell

Campaigners are fighting to keep Murrayfield Ice Rink openCampaigners are fighting to keep Murrayfield Ice Rink open
Campaigners are fighting to keep Murrayfield Ice Rink open
In a crisis that is affecting people’s jobs, mental and physical health and in the worst cases taking our loved ones from us why should we care about an ice rink?

This is what I have been asking myself whilst signing petitions, setting up Facebook pages and talking to the Murrayfield skating community. The overriding feeling from the people who use Murrayfield ice rink is that it is more than a sports centre, it’s their second home.

The rink was built in 1938 and first opened to skaters in 1952 and is one of four remaining rinks from that era still operating in the UK. It has been an asset to the community teaching hundreds of thousands of people to skate over the years whether that be just for fun at the ever-popular Friday and Saturday night discos, at 6am figure skating practice sessions or in one of the eight hockey teams who call Murrayfield home. Last year it also hosted the Scottish Inclusive Skating Championship for the first-time, inviting skaters with additional challenges from across Scotland to compete.

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As someone who was not very sporty and not originally from Edinburgh the idea of learning to skate in my 30s was daunting, but I have found the community to be extremely friendly and supportive. Before Covid I would train before work with young kids and at weekends I would skate with talented skaters who’d called Murrayfield their home rink for more than 50 years.

Annabel Mansell learned to skate at MurrayfieldAnnabel Mansell learned to skate at Murrayfield
Annabel Mansell learned to skate at Murrayfield

Ice skating is a great way to stay fit both physically and mentally and helps build skills such as resilience and discipline in young people that can be used in their day-to-day life. Skaters happily get up at 5am to train before work and school because despite being hard work it is immensely enjoyable. It is also very social. The obvious team element of the hockey clubs is also carried through to the figure skaters who mostly compete as individuals but train as part of the Murrayfield Academy or Skating Club both of which provide a real sense of belonging and friendship.

The government’s classification of ice skating as a leisure activity rather than the Olympic sport it is (Figure, Ice Dance and Ice Hockey) adds to the problem when trying to explain the importance of Murrayfield. Murrayfield has produced some top skaters including Sinead and John Kerr who were European Figure Skating double Bronze Medallists. Generations of young people have trained for 1000s of hours to go on to have professional careers as skaters, coaches, and hockey players and it is disingenuous to lump it in with the opening and support of places like casinos.

Reading the comments on the rink Facebook page it is clear you don’t have to be an Olympic hopeful to feel an attachment to the rink. There are stories of couples who met at the disco and are still married decades later, friendships formed and generations of families who have learnt to skate there. Murrayfield Ice Rink is the only rink in Edinburgh and really is an integral part of the city community and it would be a tragedy for it not to be available for current and future users. #KeepMurrayfieldSkating

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