Having a chat with... Stuart
Who best to tell you how diverse the local area is than some of the people that make its fabric?
Stuart Hutchinson is the General Manager of the Copper Box Arena the iconic London Olympics venue and one of East Wick + Sweetwater’s closest neighbours.
We had a chat with him about the trajectory of change in the local area since the Olympics, how the Copper Box Arena has remained resilient throughout challenging times and how the Hackney Wick community really does work together to create a healthy and vibrant neighbourhood for all to enjoy.
What’s your role with Copper Box Arena and how has it evolved since the Olympic Games?
I’ve been the General Manager at the Copper Box Arena since 2018 and it’s been a pleasure to watch the area grow over the past three years that I’ve been working here.
After the Olympics, we were one of the first venues to reopen which kickstarted the legacy stage of the area’s development and since then, we’ve offered our spaces and facilities to not just the local community, but international sporting partners.
We’re managed by Better, a social enterprise and see the Copper Box Arena as a community leisure provider, helping to support people’s health and wellbeing. We’ve continued to grow and while 2020 has been difficult in many ways, our multi-purpose spaces have enabled us to be extremely efficient with what we can do, so that we remain active despite the changing restrictions.
How does Copper Box Arena play a part in the local community?
The Copper Box Arena is iconic both locally and abroad. We’re one of the few sporting facilities which is able to flex to the needs of local people’s fitness requirements with our gym and fitness classes while accommodating international championships sometimes both at the same time.
A lot of the young people who come to train or exercise, they’re really inspired by the fact that major sporting events are held here, like the Federation Cup, Tennis tournament and home games for our resident sports teams, London Lions and London Pulse.
We, as an organisation, offer a Sports Foundation membership to young aspiring athletes so that they can access funding and bursaries to support their development. Our facilities act as the perfect incubator for these people, both in terms of support but also as a form of inspiration.
On another note, we recognise that we are valued amongst the community for their everyday exercise needs and we see so many of our classes booked up well in advance. Many elderly people living in the area couldn’t do without somewhere like the Copper Box Arena because it just doesn’t get them active, it’s a place to be social and connect with others.
What do you think of the new community coming to life at East Wick + Sweetwater?
Seeing East Wick + Sweetwater rise out of the ground has been fantastic. As our next door neighbour, we can’t wait until the entire neighbourhood is complete.
The Park has been growing ever since 2012 but I firmly believe that East Wick + Sweetwater has reinvigorated this side of the park in a way which will have strong synergies with not just the Copper Box Arena, but the other amenities surrounding the development.
It’s an exciting chapter ahead and I can see the new homes, leisure facilities, workspaces and future school all working together in harmony as the years go on.
With so many new potential residents coming to the area, we hope the Copper Box Arena will continue to inspire healthy lifestyles amongst residents and give them a space to relax, unwind and get fit all at the same time.
Lastly, what are your top recommendations for a newbie moving to the area?
There is so much choice around the canal so it’s really difficult to pick just a few. I would say Randy’s Wing Bar is great for tasty chicken wings always a winner!