Christian skateboarders descend on 12th century abbey

 Christian skateboarders descend on 12th century abbey

Eighty bales of straw and 100 sheets of 8x4 plywood are to be imported into the nave of Malmesbury's ancient abbey in Wiltshire by way of preparation for a three day youth event from 18 to 20 February.

Lorries will be delivering the wood to protect the floor, and a tractor will be dropping off the straw to protect the Abbey's pillars from flying skateboards and to protect flying youngsters from crashing into the abbey's pillars. A girl band, Collective, from Swindon is providing live music and a daily singing workshop, and members of the church will be staffing a youth café throughout the day.

Members of the congregation of Malmesbury Abbey will be working with Christian skaters UK hosting the event with a skate park inside the 12th century Abbey. The three days will include beginner's workshops, classes for girls only, competitions and demonstrations by experts and there will be short talks will cover issues like relationships and making good choices now for the future.

"2009 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations International Year of the Child, and although many things have changed in the last 30 years, recent research suggests that far too many adults hold pretty negative stereotypes about young people, says the Revd Neill Archer, priest in charge of the Abbey.

"I hope Malmesbury Abbey Skate says loud and clear to the young people of Malmesbury and North Wiltshire that God loves them, that the church welcomes them, and that they are an important part of our local community. I also hope, naturally, that the event helps young people see the church and the Christian faith in a different light.

"This isn't just some desperate middle-aged vicar trying to be trendy, but builds on six years of commitment by the local church employing a full-time youth pastor and building healthy relationships with our local schools.

The young people will be being coached by a team led by Bristol-based Phil Williams from Christians Skaters UK, an organisation that works across the country building links between the young people of the extreme sports community and the Church.

"Malmesbury Abbey is an amazing venue and we,ll be bringing volunteers from across the UK to help out, said Williams. "We hope local skaters and their friends will get involved and we hope it makes a positive difference to young people,s lives during what can sometimes seem to be a bleak winter half term."

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