SKATEBOARDING is one of the world’s fastest growing sports.

It was included for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and is set to return at next year’s games in Paris.

Since the building of Scotland’s first purpose-built skatepark in Livingstone in 1981 hundreds more have followed.

However, as the profile of the sport has grown council budgets for such projects have shrunk.

Now, those asking councils for new or improved skatepark facilities are more often than not being met with the daunting realisation that they will have to fund the project themselves.

“The days are gone when councils could throw up a wonderful facility,” said Ruth Hunter-Pepper, a Zumba teacher and committee member of the board of the North Berwick Community Skatepark Project.

The National: Kids line up with their boards at the soon-to-be replaced North Berwick skateparkKids line up with their boards at the soon-to-be replaced North Berwick skatepark (Image: Lewis Houghton)

Following the closure of the town’s a popular indoor skatepark theSPACE in 2015, skaters began floating the idea of revamping the existing outdoor park, which hadn’t seen any changes since the 1990s.

Seeing how the sport had benefitted her son Harris, Hunter-Pepper and her husband decided to see if anything could be done to improve the facilities.

“Clearly, the council have many other priorities so it wasn’t something they were going to finance. So, we thought: let’s do it ourselves.

“How difficult can it be?”

What followed was months of garnering support, including a public consultation that resulted in a complete redesign of the initial concept.

Then, a figure. In order for the park to get built they needed to raise £160,000.

The National: The final design of the North Berwick Community Skatepark ProjectThe final design of the North Berwick Community Skatepark Project (Image: North Berwick Community Skatepark Project)

Despite having little to no experience of fundraising such a large amount of money, the couple were so convinced of the benefits to be wrought from the sport (and the new facility) that they forged ahead regardless.

“It’s such a positive culture,” said Hunter-Pepper. “Firstly, it’s mixed-group, including both boys and girls in the same space but it’s also mixed-age.

“One of the things I found refreshing and positive about it was that the older kids are really nurturing and go out of their way to mentor the younger ones.

“Plus, what I love about it is how it allows everyone to be an individual yet still be part of a community.”

Self-expression and personal achievement are often valued far higher in skateboarding culture than success in competitions. People tend to skate not to win but for the inherent satisfaction of the act itself.

After garnering financial support from various funds, including the North Berwick Trust, the Coastal Area Partnership, and sportscotland, they managed to reach their target.

With a contractor secured and the plans finalised all that’s left is to build it, which is set to be completed by summer.

Projects such as the proposal for an entirely new outdoor skate facility in Leith show that the hunger for more facilities extends beyond North Berwick.

Gordon Carmichael is a designer by trade and posted some mock-ups on social media of what a skatepark would look like on Leith Links during the pandemic.

He said: “It was really just a provocation but it ended up getting a lot of attention”.

After seeing the initial plans a few other members approached Carmichael to see whether they could progress the plans together, with the a neglected bowling green in mind as the perfect site for a prospective park.

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“I think it’s an idea that’s been in peoples heads for a long time, we were just the first ones to put pen to paper.

“There are skateparks in loads of small towns across Scotland and numerous in Edinburgh.

“But in Leith you’ve got this large community with its own distinct identity yet there isn’t a free, outdoor facility within about 40 minutes on the bus.”

The plan, now known as the Leith Links Activity Park, was included in the council’s ten year masterplan proposal for Leith Links, with the skatepark receiving an overwhelmingly positive response.

If approved by Edinburgh City Council’s culture and communities committee later this year, it will officially be part of the plan to improve the park over the decade.

“What I’ve realised is that sometimes popular ideas just need somebody to run with them,” said Carmichael. “You’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”