Joseph Nicolson always loved skateboarding when he was a kid.
Now in his 30s, he has picked the sport back up again — and he wants to get the next generation of Hampden children passionate about it too.
When Mr Nicolson moved back to his hometown of Hampden earlier this year, one of the first things he did was head down to the beach to check out the skateboard ramp.
Discovering it was shut down for safety reasons, and in serious need of work, he decided to roll up his sleeves and do something about it. He put a message out to the Hampden community online about restoring the ramp, and it ‘‘got a lot of momentum straight away’’.
‘‘People loved the idea, and here we are now. We’re giving it a go and making it happen.’’
Mr Nicolson is now the chairman of the Hampden Skate Park Society, which is aiming to raise about $50,000 to restore the old ramp, and install anew one for beginners.
‘‘This community, I grew up in it and it’s been giving to me the whole way through, and it’s lovely to give back now.’’
After skateboarding made its Olympic debut in Tokyo last year, Mr Nicolson said its popularity was booming and he wanted Hampden to capitalise on it.
‘‘Now it’s an Olympic sport, well, we could make the next Olympians [in Hampden].’’
While he was looking forward to having a ramp to use himself, he was more passionate about creating a community asset for the younger generation. He also planned to offer coaching.
‘‘I’d love to see younger ones have that asset in the community that I didn’t have as a kid, and I’d love to even create a club around that and encourage more skating in the younger generation.’’
The old skateboard ramp is about 15 years old, and there were plenty of young skaters at Hampden School keen to use it, after building their own boards as a school project last year.
A new skate park would attract more people to Hampden, and encourage more businesses in the township and beyond, Mr Nicolson said.
‘‘You know, people coming to skate and simply going to the dairy to buy some drinks, or supporting the likes of Jeremy [Holding] atSoul Surf and Skate in Oamaru.
‘‘I think it’s going to be beneficial to a whole lot of people, who don’t even realise.’’
There were about 10 people on the skate park society committee, and their fundraising campaign had begun with a grant from the Hampden Community Energy Society.
‘‘We’ve got our first bit of funding and we’re applying for more,’’ Mr Nicolson said.
‘‘We’re getting a good team behind us and we’re making this happen.’’
The existing ramp in Carlisle St was in a great spot — right by the beach, and next to the tennis courts.
‘‘It’s a real active community spot. I go back to the Olympics again — skating and surfing being an Olympic sport — well there’s a scene for some Olympic training.
‘‘We’ve got a beach with some good surf, and we’re going to get some good ramps there now.’’
The committee had been consulting with professional skate park builders, and hoped to use Gator Skins as the new ramp surface.
‘‘We’re hoping to really step up the class of this skate ramp,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re quite excited about exploring the new technology in ramp surface.’’