EXCITEMENT is mounting as Halton’s long-awaited ice rink opens next week.

The skates have arrived, staff have been recruited and the finishing touches are now being made.

Silver Blades will be the last unit to open at the £10 million Hive leisure park in Earle Road, Widnes, with a disco on ice at 8pm on Friday, December 21.

The company was overwhelmed to receive more than 700 applications for the 30 jobs on offer.

Staff who have been appointed all live in Widnes or Runcorn.

Some are already busy working, Everyone else starts on Monday.

General manager Anney Williams said: “We are very excited.

“We’ve got all the staff. It’s hands on deck as everyone is helping. There’s lots of energy. We anticipate being very busy.”

She said the calibre of candidates vying for jobs was ‘very high’ and those interviewed were aged between 17 and 57.

She added: “We were looking for people who would make our customers feel welcome and could multi-task.”

Specialist engineers are now preparing to install the ice which will take only three days.

The rink will open all over the festivities including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day.

Taster sessions on January 5 and 6 are already fully booked.

Halton Council leader, Clr Rob Polhill said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. They have been working so hard to get it ready for Christmas, this is great news.

“Lots of people have been asking me when it is going to open. We were determined to deliver an ice rink for Halton.

“This makes a really good addition to The Hive, which is becoming a popular place for families.”

Celebrities on the next ITV Dancing on Ice which starts in January could practice in Halton.

Various top teams have been invited to train at the new facility.

When it is fully operational, the rink will have 800 seats and host ice hockey and sledge hockey matches, figure dance skating, synchronised skating, parent and toddler sessions and lessons for children and adults.

The Hive is already home to Widnes Superbowl, Reel Cinema, Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s, Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre restaurant.