Kelso skate park is on a roll with £42k grant

Kelso Skatepark Project chairman Ali Hay with Calum Kerr MP.
Kelso Skatepark Project chairman Ali Hay with Calum Kerr MP.

The team behind the new Kelso skate park is celebrating having secured £42,000 from a community grant scheme this week.

A year and a half after taking over the lease at the Shedden Park site, the Kelso Skate Park Project was given the cash boost by the Viridor Credits environmental company through the Scottish Landfill Communities fund.

Project chairman Ali Hay said: “Securing our first big grant has meant so much to the group as we can now see the project’s end-phase coming together after years of hard work.

“It’s great because it takes quite a bit of confidence in a project for a group to fund it on such a large scale, but they have jumped on board and hopefully now others will follow suit.

“It’s just superb news.”

The grant, accounting for 25% of the total build and design costs of the park, marks a milestone achievement for the group, formed in 2009 to update the existing park, built in 2001.

Due to limitations in funding and a desire to grow, the group took over the lease in May 2016 and raised £5,305 to cover insurance, a feasibility study, new designs and planning permission.

Ali, 28, has been hands-on in both improving the existing park over the years and the design of the new park.

He said: “It’s going to be a whole new development. That complete skate park will get taken away and within that footprint, a new, modern park will be built.

“It’s a really big park we have there, but we can’t do a lot with it. With the new concrete design, we can change shapes and include different areas.

“Currently, if we have more than 30 to 40 people at the park, it is just too busy.

“Now we are at the stage that it is so popular, we have to do it properly.”

The new park will offer more diversity, space and areas to suit all different abilities. It will also include planted areas, creative features and a Kelso cobbled wall.

“There are going to be so many good features relevant to linking the park with Kelso,” Ali added. “We have done the work and the research, and now it’s just about timing our applications. There’s really exciting times ahead.”

The group hopes building work can begin in May and finish within the year.

Calum Kerr, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, added: “I’ve been glad to support this project over the past year.

“This funding success is a real credit to the energy and determination of everyone involved.”

“It’s a great example of the self-starting approach that you see all across our region.”

Gareth Williams, funded projects manager at Viridor Credits, added: “This is a wonderful example of a true community project that will have far-reaching benefits in the Borders. Skate parks are a fantastic way to bring people together and foster community spirit.”