Families get their skates on at Southsea ice rink

ALL SMILES (l-r) Derek, Luca, Mia and Megan Thomas enjoy the ice rink '''          Picture: Allan Hutchings (143655-887)
ALL SMILES (l-r) Derek, Luca, Mia and Megan Thomas enjoy the ice rink ''' Picture: Allan Hutchings (143655-887)

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OLAF, the snowman from the hit film Frozen was joined by delighted youngsters as he went ice skating – on top of a tennis court.

Canoe Lake Leisure celebrated the opening of the new Greens Cafe at the Southsea landmark by hiring an artificial ice skating rink.

143655_ICE_RINK_20/12/14''(l-r) Matt Roseblade, Amelie Roseblade (8) and Theo Roseblade (9).''Adults and children enjoy the Canoe Lake ice rink.''Picture: Alllan Hutchings (143655-936) PPP-141220-223554003

143655_ICE_RINK_20/12/14''(l-r) Matt Roseblade, Amelie Roseblade (8) and Theo Roseblade (9).''Adults and children enjoy the Canoe Lake ice rink.''Picture: Alllan Hutchings (143655-936) PPP-141220-223554003

Hundreds of children joined Olaf over the weekend and enjoyed a free hot chocolate from the organisers who were overwhelmed by the number of families who turned out to the opening.

Canoe Lake Leisure was formed earlier this year to take on the 25-year lease of the grass courts on the seafront and a rundown bowling green.

The green will be transformed into competition-standard courts but, until January 5, it will be a skating rink as the organisation welcomes visitors to the new cafe, which was a derelict pavilion.

Ed Goodenough, who is running the ice skating rink, said: ‘We opened it to promote the cafe.

‘People have enjoyed themselves. We have done much better than we ever expected to.

‘By the afternoon of the first day we had had at least 200 to 300 people.

‘And the cafe has been busy. We’re pleased with how it’s going. Everyone is having a good time.’

Kerry Prior, 37, from Southsea, took her daughter Sophie, nine.

She said: ‘Sophie has absolutely loved it. It’s a great idea for the children.

‘She skated round the rink clinging on to a miniature polar bear.

‘Afterwards we had a hot chocolate in the cafe to warm us up.

‘It was very busy in there but I think this is a great facility to have here.’

The rink is open from 11am until 7pm.

John Cooke, chief executive of Canoe Lake Leisure, said he was pleased with how well the opening weekend had gone.

In all, the company will create four artificial high-performance grass courts. They will be all-weather and should be open in April 2015.

There are also 12 natural grass courts. Plans for the other, larger, pavilion could see it transformed into a wedding venue.

Mr Cooke said an earlier decision by Portsmouth City Council to refuse planning permission to turn the old men’s bowling pavilion into a children’s nursery has now been overturned.