Children and adults of all ages came on their on skateboards, BMXs and scooters to the official opening ‘Jam’ of the Henley Skatepark on Saturday at Makins Recreation Ground.
Richie Inskip aka ‘Geordie’ was the MC for the afternoon and at the start he said, “This park is accessible for everyone,” before taking Ben who lives on the Gainsborough Estate and suffers with Spina Bifida around the park on his skateboard (watch the video below). Ben’s face just said it all but afterwards he gave it a big thumbs up and said, “It was really good.”
Amazing demo riders showcased their stunts. These included BMX riders, Scott Hamlin and Harry Boucher, skateboard brothers, Callum and Kieron Waterton and scooter rider, Danny Miles. There were competitions and prizes for every standard too throughout the afternoon. This fantastic new facility is now one of the best in the area and is attracting many riders to come to Henley thanks to the tireless work over the last 6 years of the Henley Skatepark Initiative (HSI) group.
Colin Brathwaite, Chair of the HSI said, “This project started 6 years ago and some said it couldn’t be done. Some said we couldn’t raise such a large amount of money and some said we’d been too ambitious yet here we all are, at our magnificent new skatepark. Thank to everyone who supported us particularly the Thamesfield Youth Association. Thank you all to the HSI volunteers particularly our VC Jimmy Lipscomb for being so easy to work with. Thank you too to Councillors Stefan Gawrysiak, Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton, Town Clerk, Janet Wheeler and our rock at the Council, Becky Walker.”
Jimmy Lipscomb said, “It’s amazing that we have the park now after 6 years. It’s still a bit surreal! Everyone is loving it and it’s been really popular since it opened in August. It’s great to see so many families here today watching – there’s such a really good community spirit and vibe. I’m very proud.”
The park opened on the 3 August and was built my Maverick Industries. Ian Jennings from Maverick Industries said, “I’m really proud of this project. I think it achieves a lot without trying too hard. The timeless design looks back as well as forward, with parts that feel more like the 70’s style of parks, alongside some very modern features,” he said. “Both as accessible and fun as it is challenging and progressive, the hope is that everyone will enjoy this fantastic facility for many years to come. It’s a great asset to Henley and to the rapidly improving skatepark landscape in the UK.”
Daniel, aged 9 from Henley who rides a scooter and his friend’s BMX said, “It’s great and the best bit is the bowl. Since I’ve been riding here I’ve learnt to do a ‘tail whip’ (flip the bottom of the scooter round). Daniel’s Mum Beverley said, “It’s like our second home now and it would be great to have a coffee shop for the Mums watching.”
Mayor Kellie Hinton said, “Thanks to everyone on the Henley Skatepark Initiative, Maverick (who built it) and council staff for a wonderful event today. You are all my heroes! Couldn’t be more proud!”
Thamesfield Youth Association (TYA) announced on Saturday that it was them who had underwritten the £22,000 shortfall that the HSI needed to get the work started this summer. Jill Dodds from TYA said, “We made a donation of £20,000 to the Skate Park Initiative during the original fundraising to raise £290,000. However it became apparent to the Trustees, as the fund raising progressed, that there was a £22,000 shortfall in its funding. This was not least caused by some of the hitches along the way. We wanted to see the skate park happen and not add to the 6 and half year wait and so we took the decision to underwrite the shortfall. At the time we did this confidentially but now feel the time is right to “come out”. It was always the intention of the Skate Park Initiative to fundraise and repay the TYA for the underwritten amount. We are thrilled that the skate park has proved so popular with the young people of the town. We are asking those who enjoy the skate park, their family and friends to help with the fundraising to repay the Trustees the £22,000. TYA exists to support the young people of the town. We are receiving more and more requests for help from youth organisations, and by receiving some of the “underwriting money” back, we will be in a stronger position to help more young people in the town. You can donate by going to www.henleyskatepark.org We thank those who put money in the buckets at the skate park opening on Saturday, but we need more!”