MORE than a decade of campaigning, planning and fundraising for the Dorchester skatepark has left a lasting legacy that has ‘surpassed all expectations’.

The facility celebrates its fifth birthday later this month and has firmly established itself as a favourite location with youngsters in the town.

The park opened to much fanfare back in April 2009 after 12 years of planning and at a cost of £187,000.

Those involved in the long process to make the skatepark a reality say it has become a fantastic asset for future generations of the town to enjoy.

Secretary of the skatepark committee, Mark Noble, who runs Deluxe BMX, was heavily involved in drawing up the designs for the facility, which was built by Poole-based firm Maverick.

He said: “The whole thing was designed for all abilities.

“It was an interesting challenge finding a suitable piece of land and we had to think outside the box.”

Mark said the design was created to allow a flow around the whole park when it was empty but at the same time have distinct sections so when it was busy novices could use one area and the more experienced skaters and riders could use other parts.

The skatepark was also created to sit comfortably in its surrounding in the Upper Fairfield car park with the design reflecting the neighbouring Maumbury Rings.

Mark said the popularity of the park since it had opened, the way the facilities had stood the test of time and the feedback from users had been better than he ever could have imagined.

He said: “It’s surpassed all our expectations how successful it’s been.”

The key to the park’s success is the fact that young people who would use the park were involved in the process from the beginning.

Deputy town clerk for Dorchester Town Council, Steve Newman, said the original idea for the park had come from young people themselves.

Community development officer for West Dorset District Council, Emma Scott, added: “The young people were really involved – they really took it upon themselves to do the fundraising and various other things.

“They really put a lot of time and effort in themselves to make it happen.”

A number of residents of the town voiced objections to the scheme when it was first proposed, citing fears that it would become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

Steve said that the reality was quite different, with no significant problems associated with the site whilst anti-social behaviour in general across the town had gone down since the park opened.

Dorchester town and district councillor Robin Potter said: “The thing that really impresses me about the skatepark is how they managed to cater for all sorts.

“There are the older and very skilled and there are also some who are very young and they all accept each other and mix.”

Emma added: “It’s a good place for young people of all ages to mix, you have got the older one mentoring the younger ones.”

* RIDERS and skaters will be hitting the heights again at the fifth annual Dorchester Skatepark Jam.

The annual celebration at the county town facility is being held on Saturday, April 26 from 11am.

The event has become a popular event in recent years with a whole host of entertainment, music, food and stalls to enjoy alongside the flicks and tricks of skateboarders and BMX riders.

The attendance at this year’s Skate Jam is likely to be boosted by the announcement that the event is to be an official qualifier for the NASS action sports and music festival, a major event at Shepton Mallet in Somerset.

The next closest qualifiers for the event geographically are in Gloucestershire and Cardiff so it is a major opportunity for local riders to stake their claim for the festival.

The free event has been organised by the Dorchester Skatepark Committee and is supported by a range of organisations including Dorchester Town Council and the West Dorset District Council.

Skatepark committee secretary Mark Noble, from Deluxe BMX said: “This year the Dorchester Skatepark Jam returns better than ever – we’ll have a full sponsorship and tons of prizes for the skate and BMX groups, and we have products and giveaways from TotalBMX, Diamondback, Real Skateboards, Independent and Bones.

“Clothing company Animal has sent us boxes of backpacks and caps, Elephant Distribution will be there again, and Extreme will be sending prizes along with their new Extreme Energy Drinks.

“We’ll have age groups so everyone can get involved and skate and ride with their mates.”

Maverick, the firm which built the park five years ago, will have a strong showing at the event and a host of other companies are bringing teams of skateboarders and BMX riders.

Director of Maverick Sue Mitchener said: “Maverick are excited to be involved in the annual Skatepark Jam in Dorchester.

“The Dorchester skatepark is such a great example of what can be achieved when councils work in partnership with a community group and the local police.”

Participants of all ages are encouraged to come along and join in the event, while under nines must bring an adult to register them. All riders are advised to wear helmets and other suitable safety gear.