Skate park costing a fraction of its real cost opens after parts are salvaged

A new skate park has opened in Church Stretton after a crowdfunding campaign, in the hopes to boost young people's mental and physical health.

Tom Rochester watches on as Jay Skinner flys through the air in Church Stretton skate park
Tom Rochester watches on as Jay Skinner flys through the air in Church Stretton skate park

The Church Stretton community celebrated this weekend after opening the skate park for the bargain price of £7,500 – when the equipment is estimated at a staggering £80,000.

Tom Rochester, leader of the local campaign group and Church Stretton resident, has loved skate boarding his whole life, and wanted a place in the town for young people to get some fresh air, exercise and socialise.

Tom, 36, managed to get hold of some ramps from Telford & Wrekin Council's Woodside park that were going to be thrown away and which were valued at around £60,000.

The group raised more than £9,500 but only spent £7,500 of it on refurbishments to the ramps and other pieces for the park – meaning they were able to reuse items that were going to be thrown away, and got a state-of-the-art skate park for a bargain price.

More than 100 people joined the community celebrations throughout the day on Saturday, Tom said, and they are all really pleased with how the project turned out.

Pic at Church Stretton at the opening of the new skate park with Tom Rochester, and Rotarians: Peter Burt, David Crowhurst and David & Moira Mathews on the ramp

"We are really chuffed with the response," he said. "The whole project was triggered by the availability of some skate park ramps from Telford & Wrekin Council from their park in Woodside. The old skate park was getting taken away and planned to be scrapped.

"I heard about this from a councillor and we had an empty space here in Church Stretton so that's where the project started. It became obvious then that the equipment would need some resurfacing so we started to raise money and ended up spending about £2,500 to get that done and transport them.

"Ultimately we raised about £9,500 from a mixture of crowdfunding, donations from local small businesses and grant funding. Connexus Housing donated £2,5000 and Stretton Focus donated £1,000 and we also had some private donors. The community were definitely behind it."

Tom said he used to skate in Monkmoor park in Shrewsbury as a teenager, and it is something really special to him, and hopes other children in Church Stretton will find it beneficial.

Tom Rochester in Church Stretton and Frank Popovic watches on as: Macauley Williams 13, flys through the air

"It helped me find something productive to do and it was a positive thing for my health and mental health," he said. "Church Stretton itself is somewhere that has a lot of tourism, especially for its outdoor attractions. But there isn't a lot for young people necessarily."

The project has been ongoing since October and had a series of delays due to bad weather, coronavirus and waiting for jobs to be completed by specialists.

Tom added: "It has been amazing what we can achieve by buying used stuff and refurbishing it. Everyone wants to recycle and reuse but sometimes the council's hands are tied – it might have cost a lot more to refurbish the ramps than it would have to buy new ones.

"The value of our park is at least £80,000. The ramps from Telford cost them £60,000 and then bits we added on top value it around £80,000 according to the insurance estimate – we actually spent £7,500 so have cheated the system a bit."

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