“I'LL never hang up my skates. So long as you don’t have a hip replacement or a busted foot, skating stays with you for life.”

So says Ruth Cross, a former professional ice skater. At 77, she was one of the youngest on the ice at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion on Wednesday. Others were in their eighties.

The group of veteran figure skaters, athletes and Olympians meet each year to take a spin on the rink, reminisce and even have a stab at a few tricks.

Ruth said: “It’s nice to be on the ice again. We know we’ve had our day but we just don’t want to lose it.

“We can’t do much now. Lots of people have got new hips.

“One skater was a bit nervy, and another very sadly has just had a stroke.”

This was the second annual event and there are now 40 members of the group.

Ruth said: “It just snowballed. We’re from all over and we decided to meet up in Brighton. It’s been wonderful this year. The weather was perfect. We all got pretty hot going round and round.”

Ruth said some of her peers had to be told off for attempting stunts.

She said: “We all made a ring on the ice. We wanted to do some spins and few little tricks, but the ushers stopped us doing any moves.

“Some of the boys wanted to have a go but they told us not to.

“We’re all professional skaters. We’re a bit rusty but we still skate.”

Ruth’s first show was in 1963 and she gave up skating professionally in 1985 after a stint teaching the sport in Abu Dhabi.

She said: “When you don’t skate for a while, your feet change. They swell up and your boots don’t fit any more.

“We need a year-round ice rink in Brighton, but I still go up to London to skate occasionally. I go with a friend we get our skates sharpened too. It’s not too tricky – you’ve just got to find your balance again.”