When the Queens Hotel was looking for a community organisation to support, it didn’t take long to choose Southsea Skatepark.
The much-loved skating, skate-boarding, BMX bike and scooter venue is entirely self-funding and relies on fundraising and donations to be able to welcome young and old through its doors.
A safe place to practice and make friends with a shared interest, the Skatepark has achieved iconic status with visitors travelling from across the world including celebrities such as skateboard legend Tony Hawk.
The structure we now know started life as a bandstand close to the Ladies Mile on Southsea Seafront in 1929.
A hard-standing was created to allow people to dance and this was used by skaters from the 1930s onwards.
The site was further developed with a roller skating rink with spectator stands and it was used for roller netball, figure skating and roller hockey.
The interest in skating started to wane and in the late 70s skateboarding came to prominence. In response Portsmouth City Council built the concrete bowls and runs in 1978. Later BMX riding became popular and the ramps started to be built in the street course, followed more recently by scooters.
“We run different sessions to cover all the activities and have under 10 sessions at the weekend as well as special events, and in the summer our popular roller discos,” said Trustee Chris Richards. ” the Skatepark still caters for every level from beginner to pro – we have several world champions in their sports, nurtured at the park, who still practice here”
Generations of local families have grown-up meeting their mates at the Skatepark and it has also been the focus for romance too.
Chris said: “ I recently met couple ,who are now in their 80s, met at the park in the mid-1940s ,when he was a roller-hockey player and she was skater.
“And in the most recent user survey, a mother who brings her children here said she had her first ever kiss at the Skatepark and she went on to marry him.”
Owner of the Queens Hotel Farid Yeganeh feels so passionately about the Skatepark he has become a trustee and has ensured money raised from donations at the massively popular Summer Garden Parties goes to the cause.
So far a staggering £2,073 has been raised and that figure will be boosted by gift aid. In the autumn, the hotel’s Social Media expert Aina Sutka will be running the Great South Run in aid of the Skatepark.