Malmesbury Skate Festival - CS Skatepark on the move
9th March 2009
Malmesbury Abbey Skate Festival – An incredible event
The February half term holidays (18th – 20th February 2009) saw an amazing event take place in the 850 year old Malmesbury Abbey. For three days this amazing building was temporarily turned into probably the oldest skate park in the World (By a few hundred years).
The brainchild behind this exciting project was a partnership between the vicar of Malmesbury Abbey, Neil Archer, and head of Christian Surfers UK Phil Williams. Permissions needed to be obtained by not only the local Church Council, but also the Bishop of Bristol, and once this was cleared the work began.
Christians Surfers provided the mobile skatepark, and the Malmesbury Abbey team did an amazing job of laying a new temporary floor (With the help of Rok the builders) and protecting the key parts of the Abbey with a mixture of Hay Bales and wood.
During the course of the festival over 300 different skaters used the ramps, many coming back numerous times. The days were split up into sections with specific sessions for Beginners, U12’s, Girls and Open Sessions.
What the team were not expecting was the world-wide media interest, caused by the perceived strange pairing of an extreme sports event, and being a Christian, all staged in an Abbey. News and pictures of the event were spread around the world by a mixture of live BBC news 24, Radio 5 live, and numerous radio and television interviews. We were incredibly blessed by being able to share what it is to have a living faith, with a God that loves skaters as much as anyone else.
On the final day a TV team showed up from BBC Persia which transmits to countries such as Iran and Afghanistan. They stayed all day and it was great to chat about our faith and the community project that was taking place.
In addition to the skate action there was a cafe throughout the festival which kept parents, guardians, friends and skaters fully refreshed with drinks and homemade cakes. Throughout the event ‘Collective’ a girls school band from Swindon played a number of great gigs and ran a singing workshop. This culminated with a live set by the youngsters just before the hugely successful skate competition on the Friday night.
The whole festival came to conclusion on Friday night with the skate and rollerblade contest. Many of the youngsters had been training for this throughout the event. In front of a packed Abbey with hundreds of spectators the Under 12’s contest took place. Many of these youngsters had never entered a competition before, but with great encouragement from the MC’s Phil and Chris, everyone did brilliantly.
The U12 Skate event was won by Isaac Maxwell from Rochester, Kent (Aged 6, and a brilliant talent) with Joe Williams from Nailsea 2nd, and Seth Maxwell 3rd at the age of 4 – What a talented family. The Rollerblade contest (13 and under) was won by Ben Way Winch, with Jasper Neale 2nd.
In the 12-15 Skate event there were over 20 competitors and in a greatly contested event Gareth Roberts took the title ahead of Peter Payne and Ryan Cousins.
There was also a special award for the only girl entrant, Alice McGrory – Well done Alice. In the finale of the event, the Skate Over 15’s 3rd place went to Ben Clayton, with Adam Barnard who had appeared in numerous TV interviews, and press photos during the event, was pipped into 2nd place by Salisburys Dan Seago who took the title trophies and prizes.
In a packed Abbey the presentation of the awards took place, with North Devon’s Chris Coombes sharing his faith, which saw 12 local skaters make commitments for Christ (Praise God). Two hours later, thanks to the massive efforts of the local Abbey volunteers this amazing venue was returned back to its normal looking self.
The event was a great example of real partnership between Malmesbury Abbey, Christian Surfers UK and Christian Skaters UK. All parties very much hope that permission is given for a similar event next year, where I am sure the press interest will be less, but the passion and desire to reach the community will remain.
For more information please contact Phil Williams philchristiansurfers.co.uk or go to the websites www.christiansurfers.co.uk www.christianskater.co.uk or www.malmesburyabbey.com