Dear editor,

This week I have watched the morning skate session of the Basingstoke half term ice hockey camp. This letter comes from the heart of a self confessed hockey mum for the love of my son's chosen passion and that of every single child/person young and old who uses our beloved ice rink for their sport, hobby, happy place and escape from what is, at the moment a very mixed up secluded world.

This space is giving our children a reason to get up at 8.30 during their half term (even the 15 year olds) and get here. This place. Because this ignites them. I can see the flame in every kid's eyes when they are doing their technical drills, the desire to want to impress their coaches, the will to do it right, improve themselves. Is this not what our culture, our instagram, our facebook feeds continuously drill into us? To work on ourselves, do something that makes you happy and do what you LOVE.

For these kids, this is exactly what they are doing and yet we have an endless dark cloud over our beloved ice rink that it will be taken away if something or someone does not grab this situation by the balls and KEEP.ICE.IN.BASINGSTOKE.

Even before we arrived for hockey camp this morning there were figure skaters on the ice, after hockey camp there will be members of the public on the ice and during the evening (pre lockdown) there are the adult recreation hockey players using the ice let alone ALL the others users of this facility in between.

Since Bracknell was shut we have managed to take on many of the kids from the junior Bracknell Bees team. They lost their facility and this again makes our rink SO SO much more important, not just for the people of Basingstoke. This rink has saved those kids' hockey dreams too! 

I speak on behalf of the kids in our community because at the moment they have lost their games in the playground because of lockdown, they've lost their big gatherings of friends for birthday parties and social interaction. Sport of any kind is so important for their social skills, for listening, for learning, for their minds and especially for their hearts. This is where they CHOOSE to be during their half term, day in day out. Pushing themselves to be better. To edge nearer to their dream of making it big.

These coaches turn up and even take time off of their day jobs to be here. Unpaid. To teach. To show the next generation the way we do it, because its more than a hobby. For our hockey kids its in their souls and they have a passion to keep hockey alive. We have goalies teaching goalies. Basingstoke Bison teaching the next Basingstoke Bison. But as well as that we have the older kids also teaching the younger kids which is so amazing to watch. Big burly 15 year olds showing 7 year olds that its ok to fall over and then helping them back up.

This, that we have lost in our schools at the moment, is what children need. A passion. A love. A reason to be a kid. I deplore any person to say our rink is too expensive, not needed and useless. Spend a week watching these children and then decide to abandon this place.

Louise Pye, Wood Close, Hatch Warren, Basingstoke