One of the best half pipe ramps in southern England has been unveiled at Swanage Skatepark thanks to the impressive determination of Lorna Haines, who set out 20 years ago to help local teenagers build a facility for skateboarding in the town.
The twenty year pipedream became reality after an astounding fundraising drive by Swanage resident Lorna, raising nearly £150,000 since 2003. This has enabled hundreds of skateboarders, BMX bikers and rollerbladers to use the skatepark at King George’s Playing Fields, since it was opened.
The new half pipe is the star attraction at Swanage Skatepark
A skateboarding moment of revelation
An open day at Swanage Skatepark on Saturday 8th October 2022 saw the official opening of the park’s new half pipe ramp, and brought together scores of people from the town who have supported the community project from its unlikely beginnings.
Swanage’s fundraiser queen Lorna Haines said that her Christian faith had led her to work with young people, especially when she realised that traditional church buildings were just not comfortable spaces for teenagers.
When she met two youngsters who were trying to campaign for a skateboarding centre in Swanage, but were not being taken seriously, she had her own moment of revelation.
Skateboarders showed off their skills at the Swanage Skatepark
Juggling school pickups with ballet and football
“At that time, in 2001, I had three children aged from six to 11 and was juggling school pickups with ballet lessons, wildlife watching and football.
“But it was at this point in my life that I experienced a call to start working with young people in our community, specifically at the Skatepark – and it was as much of a surprise to me as it was to my family!”
The Y-Axis Skatepark Club was set up that summer to offer coaching and competitive opportunities in skateboarding to youngsters, but suffered an early setback when health and safety officers condemned their wooden ramps and took them away overnight.
Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming helped spread the word of the new ramp
Jogging round the streets of London for £24,000
But Lorna, who had already run in one London Marathon, went back for a second time to raise £24,000 by ‘jogging round the streets of London’ to truly cement plans for a professional skatepark in Swanage.
All sorts of fundraising events followed, including years of running a market stall which contributed £22,000 to the kitty, totalling£146,639.97 – and with no charity overhead expenses or wages, every pound has been invested in the ramps.
Lorna Haines addresses the crowd at King George’s Playing Fields, Swanage
Grandson calls it nanny’s skate park
Thanking everyone who has ever contributed to the fund, Lorna said:
“This park belongs to Swanage town, though my grandson Oscar likes to call it nanny’s skate park. I will let him, but no-one else!
“I know that there has been many an eyebrow raised over the years about the project, but I would like to thank everyone in town, for the most part, for believing in the skate park project.
“This park is now a part of Swanage and is here to stay, and I am delighted that the town council has agreed to make annual funding provision to maintain and evolve the space.
A space for the skaters of Swanage to call their own
A space skateboarders can call their own
“I have a Christian faith and believe it has led me to discovering a love of skateboarding which has had an instrumental impact on the lives of so many of us.
“My hope and prayer for this park is that it will be a place for the skaters of our town to find a space they can call their own, a community where they are known and encouraged.”
In its 20 years of life, the skateboard park has seen only two incidents of vandalism – and both of those were committed by people outside of Swanage.
Street art wall at the Swanage Skatepark
Crime and anti-social behaviour drops by 20 percent
Many communities have seen crime and anti-social behaviour drop by around 20 percent when teenagers have access to a skateboard park, and studies have shown that the sport reduces stress, increases confidence and reduces mental health issues.
Rob Steele, of Radii Skatepark Repairs, has worked on three major projects at Swanage including the latest scheme to introduce the best half pipe ramp in the south of England.
Rob Steele, who designed the half pipe ramp with input from the skaters
First generation BMXer designed the ramps
“I’m a first generation BMXer from the early 1980s, who stumbled into a career of designing, building, repairing and refurbishing skate ramps.
“When it came to the latest project here at Swanage, we talked to users of the skatepark to see what type of equipment they wanted and it was almost unanimous that they wanted a bigger and better half pipe.
“I look at things from a rider’s perspective and see that a larger, smoother piece of equipment like this can suit everyone at the park, whether they are skateboarders, BMX bikers or roller bladers, or whether they are beginners or professionals.
Swanage Skatepark volunteers raised more funds at the opening
No racism, no class divide and no rivalry
“There are a surprising number of skateparks in England, but a lot of them have been planned and designed poorly. We listen to what the users want and work with them to create something they want to use.
“The best thing about skateparks is that there is no racism, no class divide and no rivalry; it doesn’t matter whether you wear battered trainers or designer gear, you are just judged on your skill.”
Local artist Ed Marriott, who’s a regular skateboarder at the Swanage park, was one of those who joined the consultations about the design of the new half pipe and also used his artistic skills to create the skatepark open day poster.
Ed Marriott, 22, said the new half pipe ramp was the best of its kind
“The result is absolutely brilliant”
“There were many of us who were asked for input about what we wanted and the result is absolutely brilliant.
“The piece it replaced was half the size and was beginning to rattle, with splits appearing in the wood and slowing us down.
“This new half pipe can be used by any skill set and by all kinds of users. People are going to be so happy to use this for a long time to come – there isn’t one as good as it in the open anywhere else on the South Coast!”