Swanage skatepark campaign takes off at fun packed open day

Swanage Skatepark launched its fundraising mission for better sports facilities in Purbeck with an open day attended by hundreds.

In glorious sunshine on Saturday 1st June 2024, riders of all ages and abilities came to try out some fun ramps temporarily installed in the empty space where previous, ageing equipment was declared unsafe and had to be removed.

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Practising for displays before the community open day started at King George playing fields

There were plenty of boards available for anyone who wanted a go on the ramps

Ambitious £200,000 plan to rebuild park

Mobile skate park company King Ramps also offered the loan of skateboards and free beginner lessons to ramp up interest in both the sport and the community space.

Professional demonstrations by some of the country’s leading skateboarders, BMX and scooter riders, along with hip hop dance sessions and street art lessons, created an exciting day for all who attended.

The launch event for Swanage Skatepark Community Project (SSCP) marked the official start of an ambitious £200,000 scheme to rebuild and extend the facilities at the King George playing fields and to create a vibrant sporting community for the youth of Swanage and Purbeck.

But to make sure that steady progress can be seen and enjoyed by youngsters, smaller funding milestones will be set, starting with a £20,000 target that SSCP hopes to reach by Saturday 8th June 2024 in order to access another £6,000 in match funding from Sports England.

SSCP dynamos Heidi Florence, James Woodford and Lorna Haines with events manager Richie Inskip at the skatepark open day

Scooters, skateboards, BMX bikes and rollerskates were all put through their paces on the temporary ramps

Appeal more to beginners

Secretary of SSCP, Heidi Florence, said:

“We need to raise £200,000 to replace and improve the ramps that became unsafe and had to be removed, but also hope we can extend the park and put down extra equipment.

“At the moment, when you visit the park you are greeted by equipment which is quite high and could look intimidating for beginners. Having a full range of ramps would allow it to appeal more to beginners and look less scary.

“It is a big target, so we have had conversations about how we change our fundraising strategy and will raise funds in stages to make the project easier to deliver and get things in place sooner rather than having to wait for the full £200,000 to be raised.

“We will go for smaller funding milestones and start getting some equipment in place, building it up along the way – otherwise, the project could feel very far away from achieving.”

Professional coaches helped youngsters try out some of the temporary, less intimidating, ramps

Coaching was available for all ages as the community open day was pronounced a huge success

“Trying skateboards for the very first time”

Heidi added:

“Today is a taster for the future of Swanage Skatepark and what it could look like. We have hired ramps today to be able to fill the park and show what a difference having a full range of equipment makes to the number of users and the abilities of the users.

“A lot of people here are trying skateboards for the very first time, to get some confidence while having their hands held while feeling welcome and comfortable in the skatepark.

“Hopefully they will want to come back to the park for more, so it is about creating future generations of users and helping them see that the facility is for them – and once we have the infrastructure here we can put a lot of time and energy into running more days like this.

“The pro demonstrations will inspire more experienced skate, scooter and BMX users with new ways to be creative in the skatepark and continue using it.

“There are so many mental and physical health benefits to wheel based sports, getting more of our community rolling will only create better wellbeing and positive outcomes.”

Swanage charity #Willdoes funded the skatepark open day and brought its community bus along to the event

SSCP

Lesley Paddy (left) from event funder #Willdoes with Donna-Marie Smart (right) from Swanage Skatepark Community Project

#Willdoes funding for the event

There were early setbacks to fundraising when some grant providers ruled that Swanage was too affluent a town to qualify for money usually set aside for inner city areas – but undeterred, SSCP has widened the net for grant applications over the summer.

The community response has been huge, with Swanage charity #Willdoes funding the community event and bringing the #Willdoes bus to the event to provide a safe space and refreshments for everyone, while the Burnt Toast cafe and catering firm provided food with all profits going to the skatepark.

Hip hop dance classes were run by instructor Luciele Crisp of the Lucy C Dance Fitness studio through the afternoon, and youngsters of all ages were encouraged to take part in creating a street art mural at the skatepark’s graffiti wall.

KING RAMPS

Leaders of the Swanage Skatepark Community Project lined up between two ramps as a pro BMX rider jumped overhead

Swanage skate park open day June 2024
Andy Lyons

Visitors to the community open day were treated to some exciting stunts

Skateboarding at Paris Olympics

Following the success of the day, it is hoped that some new ramps will be provided by the summer of 2025 as the first stage of a much larger rebuild. A more detailed plan is expected to be announced after the results of grant applications are received in autumn 2024.

Before then, extra interest in wheeled sports is expected to explode after skateboarding takes centre stage at the Paris Olympics in July and August 2024 with teenager Sky Brown expected to be in the hunt for medals.

Aged just 13 years and 28 days, Sky Brown became the youngest athlete to win an Olympic medal for Team GB in 2020, winning bronze in the women’s skateboarding event in Tokyo with an incredible final run.

Swanage skate park open day June 2024
Andy Lyons

Inspiring display of skill

More and more youngsters from Swanage are taking to wheeled sports as they grow in popularity

There was plenty of excitement at Swanage skatepark
ANDY LYONS

Some of the South Coast’s leading skateboarders went through their paces at the open day

“We’d love to create a career opportunity”

Heidi Florence said:

“It was absolutely amazing, especially as skateboarding has a reputation for being a bit bro as a sport, that this young girl absolutely smashed it and won an Olympic medal.

“It has inspired and encouraged other young girls to get involved, but we need better facilities here in Swanage to deliver skills for our young people who want to train and compete at a high level, too.

“We want youngsters to watch someone like Sky Brown at the Olympics and realise that they have all the equipment and the facilities that they need on their doorstep.

“In the future, we’d love to be in a position where we are able to fund a young person gaining a coaching qualification so they could run their own lessons in the skatepark creating a career opportunity that doesn’t currently exist – there’s huge potential and it’s very exciting, but of course our first goal is the ramps!”

A graffiti wall at King George playing fields was started off by a street artist

Swanage children added their own touches to the design

Swanage skate park open day June 2024
Andy Lyons

The finished mural was a real work of art!

Crowdfunding campaign still active

The first crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000 is still active and anyone can contribute by giving a personal donation, organising their own fundraiser or by buying a reward via the Crowdfunder website.

Nearly £12,000 has already been pledged online, with a further push being made this week to hit the first target. Swanage Town Council has separately pledged £15,000 towards the project.

Many Swanage businesses have donated rewards for Crowdfunder donors, including Gee Whites, TIED, Brook Tea Rooms, Burnt Toast, Fore Adventure and others, from a Scoopies bubble waffle to a day’s beach hut hire in summer.

Burnt Toast provided catering with all profits going to the appeal, and SSCP now has its own range of designer clothing to buy!

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