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Abbey venue returns for Christian skate extravaganza

Christian Skaters' unique skate festival in an historic abbey returns this month with an expanded event for young people of all ages ...

Malmesbury Abbey Skate returns for a sixth year from 17-21 February, with an expanded festival for young people of all ages.

The historic Malmesbury Abbey is transformed by an army of volunteers from the congregation of the town’s parish church with a temporary wooden 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 soft play 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. In 2014, 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 (16 February), 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 soft play fun on the Monday, as an extension of a successful monthly soft play 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.

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.

Phil Williams, National Director of Christian Skaters, added: ”It's a fantastic opportunity to partner with Malmesbury Abbey, and to provide a great facility to practically serve the communities of skateboarding that do not normally enter a church building, the partnership has developed over the years, and we are looking forward and praying into a fantastic four-day Festival.

"Over the years we have seen those attending the Festival make commitments, and hundreds of others who visit the Abbey having their preconceived ideas of what Christianity is about completely turned round. I am really looking forward to another fantastic Festival”.

Skatepark timeline

Monday 17 February

9.30am-11.30am & 12.30pm-2.30pm: Soft play for the under-5s

Wednesday 19 February

From 10am: Skatepark
3pm-5pm: Dance workshop (school Year 5 and above)
7pm: Live music – Emily McGrory

Thursday 20 February

From 10am – Skatepark
10am-10.50am – Hula Hooping workshop
3pm-5pm: Funky soft toy-making workshop (for over 8s)
7pm: Live music – Jack Moore

Friday 21 February

From 10am – Skatepark
Afternoon: pro-scooter demonstrations
Evening: Festival competition

For more information contact Tristan Cork, press officer for Malmesbury Abbey Skate, or for more information about Christian Surfers or Skaters e-mail phil@christiansurfers.co.uk

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