Campaign launches to make Swanage skatepark best in Dorset

An ambitious fundraiser to refurbish the popular skatepark in Swanage in Dorset has just gone live and there’s an open day planned for everyone to come and have a go.

The campaign spearheaded by Lorna Haines, who’s spent the last 20 years raising funds for the skatepark, is hoping to raise £20,000 by Sunday 9th June 2024, in order to win an extra £6,000 in match funding from Sport England.

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The half empty skatepark can once again become the envy of Dorset

The skatepark at the King George playing fields

Town council has pledged £15,000

It is just the start of a larger £225,000 scheme to rebuild the skate park at King George playing fields after some of the ramps were removed in 2023 when they became unsafe to use.

Swanage Town Council spent thousands of pounds resurfacing the skate park after the ramps were taken away and has already pledged a further £15,000 towards the cost of new equipment.

However in order to achieve greater access to grant funding, a new community group called the Swanage Skatepark Community Project was set up in 2023, chaired by Lorna Haines, under the umbrella of the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust.

This has enabled the new group to make applications for a further £16,500 of charity funding, in addition to the £6,000 up for grabs from Sport England.

But without the support of the community, the team is unlikely to realise its dream of creating the best skate park in Dorset, as many grant providers require match funding from the local community.

Anyone can contribute to the new crowdfunding campaign by giving a personal donation, organising their own fundraiser or by buying a reward via the Crowdfunder website.

Many Swanage businesses, including Gee Whites, JOYoga, TIED, Brook Tea Rooms, The Narrows, Burnt Toast, Fore Adventure and countless others have donated rewards for early sponsors, and further rewards will be added before the end date.

Lorna Haines will run a marathon holding a skateboard to raise funds for the Swanage Skatepark Community Project

A marathon holding onto a skateboard

Lorna Haines, who led the drive to build the original skatepark back in the early 2000 by raising £150,000, intends to go back to the beginning – by running a marathon for the charity.

In 2003, having already run in one London Marathon, she started the fundraising ball rolling by ‘jogging round the streets of London’ to raise thousands of pounds.

This time around she will take part in the North Dorset village marathon and relay on Sunday 5th May 2024, starting and finishing in Sturminster Newton – and will be carrying a skateboard with her!

Scenes from the park in October 2022 when a new halfpipe was opened and before the old ramps (on the left) were removed

Swanage Skatepark is half empty, but a £225,000 project aims to totally transform it

Now in 2024 the campaign has begun to rebuild the skatepark with new equipment

“To highlight 20 years of loving the skatepark”

Lorna Haines said:

“It will be more of a walk this time around – I would normally start training for a marathon six months beforehand, but I only entered this event a few days ago.

“I know I can do it but it won’t be a personal best this time, although that’s not the point – the intention this time is to highlight 20 years of loving the skatepark and fundraising for it and now this fantastic new team has taken the baton.

“Rebuilding the skatepark to ensure we have a fun and accessible facility will lead to more positive outcomes for the young people of Swanage.

“Wheel based sports are known for creating a better sense of wellbeing and can attract people who wouldn’t normally engage in mainstream sports.

“Happier and healthier young people create positive ripples that will be felt by the rest of our community too.”

Lorna has already helped to raise £150,000 over the past 20 years to establish and improve the skatepark at King George playing field

“Half the skatepark is now empty”

Lorna added:

“This crowdfunding campaign is so important as it will show potential national funders that there is strong local support for Swanage Skatepark. The more important they see it is, the more they can contribute.

“We’re lucky that we have a big area for Swanage Skatepark, but half of the skatepark is now empty and the ramps which had to be removed are sorely missed, especially because they were mostly used by beginners to build their confidence.

“The absence of a street and flow section with ramps of a variety of heights means that the current equipment is inaccessible and intimidating for beginners, so a new generation of skatepark users is missing out on the benefits of using a skatepark.”

SSCP

Skater Heidi shows off her skills on the halfpipe

Pop-up skatepark street course

A skatepark community day has already been organised for Saturday 1st June 2024, funded by local charity #Willdoes, when King Ramps of Bournemouth will bring a pop-up skatepark street course to fill the current empty space in the Swanage skatepark.

King Ramps will provide skateboards and safety gear for anyone who doesn’t have their own, with workshops throughout the day, exciting demonstrations from the King Ramps Pro team and contests for scooter, BMX and skateboard users.

A pop-up skatepark will be built in Swanage for a free one-day community event in June

A pop-up skatepark will be built in Swanage for a free one-day community event in June

Another setback for Covid generation

James Woodford, one of the Swanage Skatepark Community Project volunteers, said:

“When I was younger this was always a busy place, we had no idea it was only funded and provided by Lorna’s efforts.

“Now the skatepark and the young people of Swanage are suffering again, another setback for this generation who already lost so much due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

“This is not just about building a bigger skatepark – creating better physical infrastructure will give people of all ages an alternative social and physical outlet and bring more vitality to the town.”

Two year old James has his first taste of skateboarding
SSCP

A two year old gets his first taste of skateboarding

“Really need community to get behind this”

James added:

“For Swanage residents, rebuilding the skatepark and its inclusive community could contribute to less anti-social behaviour – previous skateparks elsewhere in Dorset have cut incidents by a third.

“For parents, it is a great opportunity for their kids to have access to a free facility so they can learn a wheeled sport – whether scooters, BMX bikes or skateboards!

“We really need the community to get behind this. There have been loads of positive changes in the area recently, new businesses and improvements that make Purbeck a better place, let’s not stop there!”

KING RAMPS

A similar pop-up skatepark day organised by King Ramps in Bournemouth

Survey returned 220 responses

The Swanage Skatepark Community Project ran a consultation survey over the summer, with 220 responses all in support of improving the skatepark and holding community events in the space.

Based on the consultation, a draft design brief was created from the survey results and sent to ramp builders in order to set a funding goal for redeveloping the skatepark.

From the quotes received, the cost of ramps was estimated between £150,000 and £180,000 and when extra costs are taken into account, including further resurfacing and lighting, the overall funding aim has been set at £225,000.

Skateboarding is becoming increasingly popular and is set to be featured heavily in the Paris Olympics this summer with 15 year old Sky Brown leading the medal charge for Team GB.

Further information

Watch the Swanage skatepark video

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