Hundreds of people flock to Hayling's first Skatejam festival leaving organisers overwhelmed
CAMPAIGNERS are one kickflip closer to restoring a rusted skatepark to its former glory following a major community drive over the weekend.
Almost 2,000 revellers attended the first Skatejam festival on Hayling Island which is the latest effort in a £200,000 bid to build a new skating facility on the seafront.
The spectacle, organised by the Hayling Island Skatepark Project, featured a host of live music, food and drink - as well as an opportunity for the skating community to rally together.
Matt Pilkington, Hayling Island Skatepark Project chairman, said he was blown away by the support of local people.
He said: ‘The amount of support we have had from the community is amazing. I’m so humbled.
‘The atmosphere was absolutely jumping. People were just loving it. It was the first time we have ever staged anything like this. It was a pretty mammoth task to organise.’
Matt, 35, started using the skatepark as a child and said it is a place that is close to his heart.
However, in recent years ramps have been left to rust, with the facilities now in desperate need of repair or replacing.
Matt and a team of his friends rallied together to create the Hayling Island Skatepark Project - with an ambitious goal of raising £200,000.
And they have proved a fundraising force to be reckoned with, having managed to tot up more than £70,000 through grants and other fundraising exploits over the past year.
Matt, who runs a web design agency Superrb, now hopes to complete the fundraising quest by next summer – and aims to stage a ‘bigger, better’ Skatejam next year.
Speaking of the importance of the skatepark, the skateboard-loving dad said: ‘There is nothing for young people to do on Hayling.
‘We have got an aging population and there’s no provision at all for youths on Hayling. It's a tragedy.
‘The skatepark was massive for me when I was young. I run a business with 14 staff based on Hayling Island - that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Hayling skatepark.
‘For people who like team sports like football and rugby and basketball there are some facilities like a park and basketball court.
‘But for anyone who wants to play different sports and more independent sports like skateboarding, BMX, scooter or even athletics, there’s really nothing.
‘There a whole community of people out there who are being forgotten about and left behind.’
To support the project, see theskateparkproject.com