Ottery Skaters speak out

Waiting in anticipation for the new skate park at Ottery King's School. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 4190-11-11AW

Waiting in anticipation for the new skate park at Ottery King's School. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 4190-11-11AW

Archant

The Herald’s campaign for 2011 is the Skate and BMX Park for Ottery St Mary, and this week the paper spoke to some of those who will benefit from the project.

15yr old Ben Thompson gets his skates on ready for the new skate park at Ottery King's School. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 4206-11-11AW

A group of boys and girls from The King’s School have been working tirelessly to get the skatepark built, they desperately want the facility in Ottery as, at the moment, they have to get up extremely early to travel to other skateparks before they fill up.

Steve Gurr, a pupil, said: “It’s quite annoying. We have to get the bus to places like Exeter and they get filled up really quickly so we have to get up at seven or eight in the morning.”

One boy, Harry Mayo, currently gets up at 6.30am to travel to a skatepark, and, back in January, shaved off all his hair to show his dedication to campaigning for the Ottery skatepark to be built on land behind the school.

The pupils have been raising money for many months, including organising a ‘mufti’ day at the school, and have a music competition coming up next month. Luke Griffiths said: “We’re organising a ‘Battle of the Bands’ at the King’s School as a fundraiser on April 7. We’re getting people from the school and from other surrounding schools to perform, and we’ve got loads of merchandise we’ve made to sell and raise money.”

The youngsters point to a survey which shows if there is a designated place for young people to go there is a big drop in antisocial behaviour, saying the skatepark will have a wider benefit for the town as it gives them somewhere to go.

The boys have also been to council meetings to voice their support for the project, and visited the Rotary Club. Harry said: “We went to a rotary club meeting to give a presentation; they gave us lots of support and ideas on how to raise money for the skatepark.”

The group also want to use the facility to educate other youngsters about skating and BMX riding. Declan Franks, a year seven pupil, said: “Once the skate park is finally built we want to use it to teach young people how to skate safely, and get more boys and girls involved.”

King’s School teacher Jo Elliott, who has helped co-ordinate the fund-raising for the skatepark, says she is impressed by the pupil’s determination to get the project finished. She said: “They’ve worked so hard, pupils from all different backgrounds, to try and push this forward and if we can just raise some final funds they’ll have the facility they deserve.”

The skatepark is almost funded it just requires a little more help from the town to reach its target, and Ottery will be left with a first class facility for young people.


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