Billingham Forum has UK’s best ice arena outside London

The Ice Arena at the much-loved Teesside venue was only beaten by London’s Alexandra Palace in an analysis of customer service feedback by a national research company.

Billingham Forum is operated by charitable trust, Tees Active, which manages a host of leisure venues and adventure attractions across Stockton-on-Tees.

Tees Active managing director, Leon Jones, said: “It is quite an achievement to be beaten only by Alexandra Palace in a study encompassing all 57 ice rinks across the UK, and testament to the superb job our staff do to provide a memorable experience.”

Factors in the study include the total number of TripAdvisor reviews, the TripAdvisor rating score, total number of Google reviews, Google rating score, price per person, and transport links.

Billingham Forum Ice Arena had an index score of 75.97 out of 100, compared to 77.69 for Alexandra Palace. Planet Ice Bristol came bottom with 32.03.

Billingham Forum, which opened in 1967, has been run by Tees Active since 2004, and underwent an £18.5m refurbishment before reopening in 2011.

As well as being popular with visitors, it is home to the Billingham Stars ice hockey team, and Billingham Ice Skating Club.

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It also makes ‘accessibility for all’ a high priority, with ice skating one of the activities provided by support group SNAPS (Special Needs Activities With Parent Support), run by Ruth Benson, on Friday mornings.

Tees Active also arranges for residents of local care homes to take part in wheelchair ice skating sessions as part of its ‘Care Home Legends’ activities programme, while other community events have included foam parties on ice, glow-in-the-dark parties, and silent discos.

The Northern Echo: Some of the residents and carers enjoying being on the ice thanks to Tees Active's Care Home

Tees Active operations manager, Roy Broadbent, who has been closely involved with the development of Billingham Forum, said: “We are very proud to receive such a high rating, though not surprised because such a lot of hard work and investment has gone in to working with the community.

“Billingham Forum has a special place in the hearts of countless people across Teesside. It’s the place many of them visited on school trips, or where they met their first loves, and we’ve continued to be innovative and make it the best it can be.”

Billingham Forum’s general manager, Anne Restall, added: “It means so much to be recognised in this way because we try so hard to work with the community to provide affordable and enjoyable experiences.”

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, is also thrilled by the “outstanding rating”.

“We know that Billingham Forum Ice Arena offers great customer service but for that to be recognised nationally makes all the hard work and investment worthwhile. We won’t rest on our laurels until we make it to number one!” he said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed last month that former Love Island winner, Amber Davies, has been using Billingham Forum Ice Arena to practise ahead of taking part in TV show Dancing On Ice.

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