Sixth year for Malmesbury Abbey Skate
The historic Malmesbury Abbey is transformed by an army of volunteers in the congregation of the town’s parish church with a temporary floor, 120 hay bales, packing crates and skatepark ramps to create a week-long event during February half term.
The festival has evolved since its first year in 2009 and now includes live music, workshops and – new for this year – a softplay day for pre-schoolers before the skatepark is brought in.
Hundreds of young people from Malmesbury, the surrounding villages and from even further afield, come each year to the festival, with some sessions booked up within hours of becoming available online.
The skatepark is run by volunteers from the Abbey congregation in partnership with the national Christian Surfers and Christian Skaters UK organisation. This year, since the opening of the new Malmesbury Skatepark at the town’s youth centre, volunteers and skateboarders from that facility are also working with the team.
This year, the initial set-up of the festival is taking place a day earlier, on Sunday, Feb 16, with worshippers at the abbey’s regular 4pm informal family service bringing electric drills and builders’ gloves to lay the double-thick protective floor once the service is over.
That means the Malmesbury Abbey Café will have a whole day of softplay fun on the Monday, as an extension of a successful monthly softplay morning that has been running since last autumn.
This year’s skatepark also features a dance workshop, hula hoop workshop and a workshop for ‘funky soft toy-making’. This year there will also be bespoke sessions for youngsters in wheelchairs, each day at 1.30pm.
Festival organiser Sarah McGrory said: “"A lot of people asked us at the start of planning this year’s event, was there still a need for Abbey Skate now we had the new skate park in town?
“Well it’s about more than skating, now it’s about community and family. We have extended the event to include younger ones with the softplay and added a few extra under-eight sessions but most of all for me this year it is about the support we have had from the skate community at the new skatepark. For them there is no them and us, it’s we.
“They are helping us with set up and organising their opening times to coincide with ours so they don't clash. The event is a prime example of what can happen when people respect one another and are prepared to work alongside one another,” she added.
Rev Neill Archer, the vicar of Malmesbury Abbey, said he was looking forward to this year’s event. “The Skatepark is evolving every year and involving more and more young people in providing what is a great event for our community, working in partnership with Christian Surfers and Skaters UK.
“At the heart of the event is the message to the young people of Malmesbury that the Abbey is as much a building for them as it is for everyone, and that God and the church community loves them,” he added.
See also: Christian Surfers website Skatepark timeline – events
Skatepark timeline – events