The skateboarding boom – not just a fad but now an Olympic sport!

skateboarding
Youngsters enjoying the facilities at the Lyme Regis skatepark in Charmouth Road (photo by Richard Austin)

IT took 40 years to get proper facilities for skateboarding in Lyme Regis.

It was back in the 1970s when former schoolmaster and local sportsman Royston Davies suggested that a skatepark should be built on the Anning Road playing field.

In those days skateboarding was considered to be just another passing fad and youngsters would soon get fed up with it when the new “in thing” came along.

Today, however, there are few towns without a skatepark and what was considered to be just a pastime is about to become an Olympic sport.

Several sites were considered for a skatepark in Lyme, including Lister Gardens and Monmouth Beach, before the town council settled on the rear of the Charmouth Road car park, just below the football club.

There were doubts over the siting, some arguing that it would encourage youngsters using the facility exposing themselves to danger by skating down Charmouth Road into the town centre. But it was eventually accepted that there was no suitable alternative.

The project really started to be taken seriously when Lucy Campbell won a seat on the town council, becoming its youngest member ever at that time.

Lucy was determined that a commitment made by the successive councils to support the youth of the town was honoured and she steered the skateboard project through to conclusion with the council managing to finance the construction from resources.

After Lucy left the council, Cllr Cheryl Reynolds took up the reigns and now heads the group which looks after the skatepark and promotes the sport, having organised some successful skateboarding jams.

Sky Brown
Sky Brown is about to become the youngest ever Olympian, competing in skateboarding

Skatepark a ‘friendly and great place to learn’

The facility has enabled a number of youngsters to hone their skateboarding skills to a level where they could compete competitively, encouraged by Lyme Regis footballer Chris Higgs, a keen skateboarder for many years with the scars to prove it.

In a recent posting on social media, Chris commented: “Since the park has opened I’ve watched so many youngsters become good and great skaters, it’s friendly and a great place to learn.

“It’s all about watching and doing at your own pace, but most of all enjoying it.”

With the skatepark currently closed due to COVID-19, more youngsters have been skating through the town and practicing their manoeuvres on the seafront, and I have noticed that there a lot more young girls now taking up the sport.

That could well be down to the profile of Sky Brown, who is about to become the youngest person ever to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.

And now there’s even a skateboarding and clothing shop in Lyme Regis at the top of Broad Street, Frontside Clothing, run by The Galley Café owner Keian Gillett and fellow chef Josh Caesar.

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