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Skating enthusiasts are on roll

PUBLISHED: 14:28 15 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:55 03 July 2010

Glenn Wicks and Gaynor Read

Glenn Wicks and Gaynor Read

Liz Coates

For many the 1980s was Great Yarmouth's roller heyday, a time of dubious clothing choices and hairstyles when couples wheeled around the Winter Gardens to the strains of Spandau Ballet's True.

For many the 1980s was Great Yarmouth's roller heyday, a time of dubious clothing choices and hairstyles when couples wheeled around the Winter Gardens to the strains of Spandau Ballet's True.

Fast-forward 30 years and those leg-warmer clad teens can take their own children for a spin - for today the tradition is being revived at the seafront Marina Centre with a host of sessions, classes, discos, a mini-rink for under fives and a soft play area for under threes.

The Piazza has been transformed into a roller-skating arena through a £100,000 investment featuring a “fast-grippy” surface that you'd have to go to Italy to equal.

And while it may stir nostalgia in some there's never been a better time to take up the sport according to Gaynor Read, 33, who came up with the idea after taking her children to popular roller-skating coaching sessions on a Sunday in the centre's sports hall.

She said: “We were encouraged by the fact we have built up to an average of 40 people on a Sunday, and it is literally the whole family taking part. We even have one lady we call Super Gran.”

Mrs Read, an accountant, who has formed a company, RetroSkate, with her husband Phillip and Glenn - a championship skater - and Donna Wicks, who ran the Sunday sessions, said she was among those at the roller dance at the Winter Gardens as a child and had now been “bitten by the bug all over again.”

Two hundred pairs of skates have been imported from Spain to hire, and there will be a skate shop where people can buy their own equipment. The two couples have five young children between then.

The arena holds its VIP opening tonight. In school term time, it will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but during the holidays it will be open seven days a week.

Mrs Read, of Caister Road, said: “As well as general skating sessions, we will also be hosting children's, family and laser discos and also putting on children's parties.”

She said the company was keen to promote the sport as well as the benefits to fun skaters.

“It's all happened in the last 12 to 18 months. Glenn and Donna are the skating brains and they had wanted to do it for many years. We were looking at industrial units to begin with but we did not contemplate the Piazza which was right under our noses all the time.”

Edwina Wright, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Sport and Leisure Trust, which is letting the venue, said: “RetroSkate will be run as a separate operation but it is a really good fit for the Marina Centre, increasing the offer.”

Junior skates start at size eight and there are also wheelie bugs for very young children to scoot about on

Weekly tea dances, popular with the centre's more mature customers, are continuing at the venue.

For more information visit www.retroskate.net


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