On Thursday 14 October 2021, at the Swanley Recreation Ground, St Mary’s Road, Swanley, BR8 7BU, representatives from the National Lottery Fund will present a cheque for £150,000 to the Swanley Skate Park renovation project.
Former Apprentice star, JD O’Brien, will formally accept the cheque on behalf of the local community and his Community Interest Company (CIC) Concrete Wave, which has been battling to raise funds for the much-needed renovations to the skate park. JD O’Brien will be joined by local skaters and children from nearby St Mary’s Primary School, as well as MP for Sevenoaks and Swanley, Laura Trott.
Laura Trott MP says: “I’m so delighted that thanks to the generosity of the National Lottery Fund and the hard work of the many people involved in making this happen, the community of Swanley can now begin to resurrect their skatepark. It’s so important for our young people to have somewhere to meet up that is safe, and I know many will benefit hugely from this boost to both their mental and physical health.”
JD and Concrete Wave have been in a race to raise funds to improve the skate-park to make the most of the ‘Olympic spirit’, generated by the astounding success of Team GB’s skateboard stars at Tokyo 2021, where 13-year-old Sky Brown became our youngest ever Olympic medalist. JD is passionate about helping local youngsters ‘skate towards better mental and physical health’ after 18 months of lockdown restrictions.
JD says: “Following our Olympic success, it’s an ideal time to bring something positive to the community. Children and teenagers have spent too long being cooped up and isolated. We are hoping the skate-park becomes a source of pride to Swanley and a real community asset”.
Concrete Wave was formed in early 2021 with the ambition of driving the project forward on behalf of a number of community stakeholders: Swanley Town Council, local skaters, BMX enthusiasts and scooter riders, business owners and families, to name just a few.
The cut up tarmac and rusty ramps, have been preventing youngsters from making the most of this local resource. State-of-the-art skatepark designer Russ Holbert from Maverick Skateparks says, “the plan is to build something special for Swanley. It’s been a rotten year and so many kids have struggled. An initiative like this will make a tangible difference to Swanley children and their overall well-being”.
Experts at SkateboardGB say that new research has shown a “striking correlation between people who skateboard and their improved mental health”, and that, “involvement in skateboarding can reduce stress, increase confidence and provide escapism”.
As campaigners warn of the physical and mental aftershocks of the pandemic hitting young people particularly badly, Chris Chambers of Altar Skateshop stresses that the impact of the new skate park could be monumental: "As a community, from a mental health perspective this new facility could provide a vital outlet. With a lack of decent places to go this will really help kids get back to enjoying life."
Skateboarding as a part has experienced a huge surge in popularity, according to Neil Ellis, U.K. Head of Engagement at Skateboard GB (the official governing body of skateboarding in the UK). This year saw skateboarding recognised as an Olympic sport for the first time and, as Ellis says, "skateboarding is not just a sport- it is a lifestyle, and the buzz is just going to grow following the Olympics". And where better to cultivate that buzz than in Swanley?
Members of the public and corporations are invited to support the initiative via the community fundraising initiative on Spacehive- just go to www. spacehive.com/Swanley-skatepark. For more information on the project and details of future fundraising activities (including a chance to name the park and the park art initiative sponsored by Sevenoaks Public Realm) please check out www.concretewave.org.uk.