SPICE (Special People on Ice) is a wonderful charity that works with disabled and special needs children and young adults – getting them involved in on-ice activities starting by simply helping them to skate to giving them the ability to progress into their synchro skating or ice hockey teams (or both!). At the bottom of this article you can find out how to you could win 2 VIP tickets to this years Cornbury Festival in return for a small donation.
The charity started in 2002 in a small coned off area of Slough ice arena by Ricci Hodgson and just grew from there, Ricci says “SPICE was set up in 2002 in the corner of the Slough ice arena with a view to teaching some children with additional needs that were finding it very hard to skate in the regular group lessons. I had heard that ice skating was good for children with autism and that they liked the gliding sensation on the ice.“
The club now has enough members to take over the whole rink for nearly 2 hours every Sunday morning with an hour of skating – including special areas dedicated to those who need a bit of extra help, the synchro team to help them work on skills and routines and an area for those who have confidence to skate alone and want to improve. They then move on to 45 minutes of ice hockey training that is open to anyone who wants a go.
Ricci told me a little about what they are trying to do: “SPICE aims to teach children and young adults with additional needs to ice skate in a calm and caring environment. Many of our members are totally excluded from other sporting activities so we aim to be inclusive and to support our members to develop their physical motor skills whilst improving their self esteem. In 2006 we started ice hockey and now boast two teams with three net minders! Many of our members suffer from physical additional needs such as Cerebral palsy. Regular movement, something we take for granted, can be difficult and extremely tiring. We aim to help them develop their stamina and motor skills as well as to make new friends. SPICE is one big family!“
What was fantastic to see was not just how many kids they were helping – but also how many volunteers they had out when I was visiting: skating with the kids and helping and encouraging them to be amazing.
SPICE membership includes children and young adults with a variety of special needs including Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Global Development Delay, Hydrocephalus, acute deafness and epilepsy. The skating ability of the members varies hugely – there are some kids who need two helpers to stand up to some kids who were whizzing around.
What was the same on every face – was how much everyone was enjoying it. There was even member being pushed around in her wheelchair by her Mum – she was actually a regular on ice but had broken her ankle recently and this meant she could still come and spend time with the group.
As I was chatting with Ricci he pointed out kids who had gone from the ‘needed two helpers to stand up’ to now being in the synchro team or the hockey team – showing how much the work they do at SPICE really makes a difference to help these kids.
There is definitely a huge feeling of community for this group. From the parents standing on the sidelines having a chat to the kids and the volunteers on ice. It was a place where nobody was made to feel different or out of place, nobody is judged and everybody is made to feel incredibly welcome. The ice skating community at Slough has clearly taken this group to their hearts as well – with local hockey players, members of the Slough synchro team, and skating coaches from the rink all regularly giving their time on Sunday morning to work with the kids.
Bracknell Hornets netminder Danny Milton has been involved with the charity since 2011. “I started volunteering – just helping and coaching the goalies about 5 years ago, progressively moving up to the head coach (of the hockey teams). I enjoy watching the kids get better and improve, the fun that we have while they learn is amazing to see. And it’s even better seeing them having the time of their lives in the tournaments abroad. And that’s what makes it all worth coaching every Sunday. SPICE means so much to me just because it’s such a close group and they are all there for the same reason. To be part of that group. And I benefit from coaching the kids just as much as they get out of learning from me.“
Recently SPICE has been going from success to success. In the last 12 months they won the Sports and Recreational Alliance Club of the Year (read about it here), were nominated for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Sport awards and their synchro team Absolutely SPICE won an award for ‘most entertaining routine’ at the British Synchronised Skating Championship (read about it here). Not bad for a little club that runs only on charitable donations and gets no grants or handouts from the local or national government.
The award-winning club is at danger of losing their rink for up to 9 months at the moment with the rink about to undergo major refurbishments. Take a look at a brilliant video to understand more about what the club does and what losing their facilities would mean to there here. Then please go and sign the petition to ask Slough Council to help them (and the MANY other users of Slough Ice Rink) here.
Links to find out more:
SPICE website – where you can find out more about this fantastic charity and the work they do.
Another YouTube video from SPICE here
WIN!! 2 VIP tickets (with camping if desired) to this year’s Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire (8-10 July). The tickets will give you entry to the festival for all 3 amazing days – with a line up that includes music for all tastes including headliners Jamie Cullen, Bryan Ferry and Seal and includes party favourites Bjorn Again, chart-toppers like All Saints, Soul II Soul and James Morrison and loads of others across 3 stages! Add in some fantastic food outlets (we especially like the gin and tonic stand!), craft stalls, comedy tent, funfair and loads of activities for the kids to enjoy and it’s a simply fantastic festival for all ages. You can find out all the details of the festival here. You can choose any of the camping options or choose to attend on a ‘day only’ basis if you prefer. The tickets can be used for two adults or one adult and one child.
The VIP part of the tickets mean that you get access to the special VIP tent at the festival – which includes comfy sofas to have a sit down on, shelter from the weather if needed, a dedicated bar and coffee outlet (so much less queuing) and perhaps most important of all – proper loos!!! The face value of these tickets would be £630.
But that’s not all – in a ‘money can’t buy’ extra the winner will also be the special guests of 482days on one evening for drinks in the exclusive Patrons and Partners marquee and then will join us on the special viewing platform (billed as the ‘best seats in the house’ by the Cornbury team) for the headline act.
To be in with a chance of winning them, you just need to donate at least £5 to SPICE before the end of May via this special fundraising page. Just make sure you tick the box labelled ‘‘I am happy to be contacted by the charities I donate to (email/post/phone)’ – this will enable us to contact you if you are the winner! For every £5 you donate you will get a separate entry into the draw. You can also buy tickets directly from SPICE at one of their sessions or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help us to raise money for this amazing charity and maybe win yourself tickets for an amazing festival at the same time!
All monies raised from the raffle will go directly to SPICE and will be used as a bursary to help kids from families where money is tight to go to the hockey tournament in Canada next year. Ricci Hodgson told me : “SPICE JETS (the hockey team) are planning to attend the 2017 SHI (Special Hockey International) ice hockey tournament in Canada. At the moment this is just ‘a plan’ as the costs are really high. There are some members who would dearly love to attend but may struggle with the flight costs for example. We would like to support these members and so, any monies raised, would go to help these members attend.” You can find out more about the tournament here.