CHAMPION skating stars have thanked the council for keeping them on ice.

Brother and sister ice-skating team, Michael and Sarah May Coward, from Chelmsford, have been given free access to the Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre run by Chelmsford Council.

The pair, who became the British Novice ice skating champions in 2007, train six days a week at Riverside's ice rink with coach Lasantha Salpadoru, also taking choreography lessons with Doreen Hoppe.

Michael and Sarah have already found success in 2008, winning a bronze medal in the British Junior Ice Dance competition at the British Ice Skating Championships.

Seventeen-year-old Michael, a student at the Boswells School, said: "We worked very hard to qualify for the national championships at junior level, so to win medal in our first year was a great achievement."

He thanked the council for providing financial support and said he looked forward to using the Olympic size ice rink planned for the Riverside development.

Michael and 15-year-old Sarah are currently training hard to prepare for next year's sporting events.

The support for the siblings comes from the Essex FANS scheme, which gives financial backing to sporting people in Chelmsford who compete at a national level.

Councillor Tim Roper, who looks after borough's leisure and culture, said: "We're very proud of the ice rink facility we currently provide at Riverside and the support it offers local skating talent of all ages."

A council spokesperson said business had been booming at Riverside during the recent run of ITV's Dancing on Ice series, with many visitors taking up ice skating lessons.