Malmesbury’s 12th century Abbey has been converted into a state-of-the-art skatepark for the fifth year running – and organisers are expecting 600 youngsters to hurl themselves around it for the next two days.
Congregation members and volunteers from Christian Skaters UK spent two days convering the interior of the Abbey with quarter pipes and grinding platforms.
Aside from the skating, there is the Abbey’s cafe and live music, including a folk ensemble from year 10 pupils at Malmesbury School.
Pre-booking for the skate park, which opened yesterday afternoon is advised, as some sessions are already full.
On Monday night volunteers helped lay 100 boards on the floor and professional from Green Square Housing Association spent two hours fixing them together.
Straw bales, to surround the skate park area, arrived on Tuesday night and were positioned in place by a team of 30 volunteers
Replacement boards have been donated by Wickes and in Chippenham and Halfords in Chippenham has donated prizes for a skating competition.
Tristan Cork, a member of the abbey congregation, said most youngsters choose to hang out in the abbey with friends for the rest of the day rather than leaving after their skating sessions.
He said: “We want to show the young people of Malmesbury that the Abbey is as much for them as for anyone else.
“It looks amazing when you walk through the door, you’re expecting a church with candles and pews and you have this massive noisy, crashing skate park which is full of life.”
Joel Harland, 22, from East Sussex took three days off from his job as an engineer to visit the skate park.
He said: “I’ve never seen a skate park installed in such an amazing venue, it’s really cool to be on the ramps and look up at this amazing building.”
Max Maxwell, from South East London, has come down to the skate park with his two boys Isaac, age ten, and Seth, age eight.
He said: “We’ve been all five years- my boys started skating when they were very small and they’re quite accomplished skaters. Isaac goes to competitions all over the country and this is well and truly engrained in our annual skating calendar.
“We’ve made great friends over the last five years – the congregation has put us up so we feel part of the family down at Malmesbury Abbey now.
“Isaac enjoys showing the local skaters how much he has improved over the years. It’s a Christian and skating pilgrimage combining the two things that are important for us.”
Isaac Maxwell said: “It’s a great place to come and show off my skills and to see other people’s skills. It’s quite amazing how they manage to do it in such a short space of time. It’s good to preach the gospel and have fun at the same time.”
Rev Neill Archer said: “We have had three days of hard set up, it went quiet at 10.30am this morning for the Holy Communion service then suddenly at 12pm it went ballistic.”
The Abbey event runs until tomorrow.
Skate sessions can be booked at the cafe or online at www.malmesburyabbey.com/skate