Henley’s £290,000 skate park is finally ready to welcome BMX bikers, skateboarders and roller-skaters after a six-year wait.
The opening by Mayor Kellie Hinton was greeted with excitement on Wednesday last week.
The facility at Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road, replaces the old skate park that was built in 2004.
County councillor for Henley, Stefan Gawrysiak, said: “It is absolute magic. We are all really chuffed with the park, it is fantastic.”
He added: “We have been working on this for around six years now and there were obstacles in the way. But we always wanted this as there was a crying need for street sport that the young people in Henley wanted. I have been there a couple of times now and it is full of young people.”
Construction work began in March, after a long campaign led by the Henley Skatepark Initiative.
Colin Brathwaite, chairman of the initiative, said: “Years of hard work, determination, fundraising by all sectors of the community and unwavering belief have led to this fabulous new facility now being open. It has been a Herculean effort by all involved.
“It’s a humbling feeling to create something in life that will be around longer than I am.
“Henley is an affluent community, but our young people still need access to free sporting facilities.
“The aim of the skatepark is to encourage active and healthy lifestyles, with a focus on youth development, equality, moral values and respect.”
On Sunday, Henley Mayor Kellie Hilton tweeted: “So so proud. Will I ever stop getting emotional about this? So proud of @HenleySkatepark Colin Brathwaite in particular.”
The skate park was paid for with a £100,000 grant from South Oxfordshire District Council, £75,000 from both the town council and Sport England and £20,000 from the Thamesfield Youth Association plus £6,000 raised by the Initiative.
An anonymous supporter loaned another £20,000 so the work could begin and the Initiative is now raising the money to repay this.
Mr Brathwaite added: “The facility has been funded by grassroots fundraising [but] £20,000 still needs to be raised to complete the funding.”
Since news broke of the opening of the park, people from Henley took to social media to express their excitement.
Tom Mitchell posted: “This is so awesome. Hats off to everyone involved in making it happen. Can’t wait to see it.”
Ollie Weait posted: “Big up all the Henley skaters who kept the faith.”
The new concrete skatepark caters to all ages and abilities.
A celebration launch will be held next month. If you would like to make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.