Sport rises as Ayrshire ice rink which faced Covid cash crunch prepares to reopen


The Ayr rink will be operational again this weekend.

The rink will be ready to welcome visitors and returning clubs from Sunday, May 2.

Andrew Kerr, Director of Ayr Ice Rink, said: “The Ayr Ice Rink will be open again from May 2nd.

“This was only possible because the Scottish Ice Rinks Association and the national curling body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, argued to the Scottish Government that without financial support there was a very real risk that some rinks do not survive.

“Our own financial situation was perilous, although the curlers pledged their financial support which, thankfully, is no longer needed now.

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“As the vaccination program progresses well, there is light at the end of the very dark Covid tunnel.

“The return of the girls and boys skaters and hockey players next week is a big step forward and with the curlers resuming at the start of their season in September, all is well, we can optimistically look forward to a return to normal to Ayr Ice Rink.

The Limekiln Road base, which is home to curling, figure skating and hockey clubs, was on the brink due to the Covid pandemic.

Owners Ayrshire Curlers Plc, which closed in November, said only a major financial bailout would prevent the closure permanently.

But their prayers were answered in March, in the form of a £ 181,000 grant from sportscotland.

Mr. Kerr spoke of the past 12 turbulent months, saying: “The past year has been extremely difficult for many people and for many businesses, especially our rinks.

“This time last year we had no choice but to melt the ice but, as things started to improve over the summer, we turned the factory back on and put into places all Covid requirements for a new opening in September.

“Putting ice on the rink isn’t just about turning on the faucet and turning on the refrigeration plant. It takes the best part of a month all the time to ‘eat’ electricity like there’s no tomorrow plus the return from leave of our dedicated, zero-income ice cream team.

“However, we opened last September and were thrilled to once again welcome our youth from the Kyle and Ayr figure skating clubs, the Bruins junior ice hockey club and our curlers young and old.

“Unfortunately, the Covid restrictions were almost immediately increased, forcing us to stop curling.

“Skating and hockey were allowed to continue, but instead of easing restrictions, they were increased in November and with little chance of the situation improving anytime soon, we had to reluctantly take the decision to close the plant and let the ice melt.

“It’s fair to say that this decision was not the most popular with skaters and hockey coaches, feeling that we should hold onto the ice in the hope that their youngsters would be allowed to resume.

“As a result, the restrictions have only been lifted now and anticipating that we started making ice earlier in the month and the Ayr Rink will be open again.”

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