By Michelle Corns
A team of volunteers have set up family friendly skating sessions at Farsley Celtic Football Club.
Last year West Leeds Dispatch brought you the story of the Armley Park skaters – which proved very popular. The article highlighted the plight of there being nowhere decent to skate in the area. After the article was published, WLD was flooded with e-mails and social media requests about how to join in.
In the winter months, the weather made it even more difficult to skate outdoors so a small group of skaters from Armley Park recently set up skating sessions at Bramley Community Centre. This ran for four weeks on a Wednesday evening, but it was quickly obvious that they needed a much bigger space. The spaces were full to capacity within minutes of the booking going online!
There was capacity for skating at Farsley Celtic FC, so sessions now running 4-6pm at The Nest with a separate area for children and beginners.
With the help of Bramley councillor Kevin Ritchie, the volunteers have been able to obtain a small grant from Leeds Community Fund, which has enabled them to buy better equipment such as the large trolley speaker to play music in such a large space.
The sessions cost just £5 for adults and £3 for children. The initial idea came from skate enthusiast, Susan Cunningham, from Farsley. Susan said:
“I really wanted to get this going because there wasn’t anywhere to skate indoors in West Leeds and particular over winter.
“It’s been a whirlwind, everything happens so fast. We have been inundated with requests for skating, and had lots of support from members of the public and particularly local councillors.
“It’s been great seeing families come together, mums, daughters, dads, and sons, skating together. We have been supported by We are Bramley; my world, my city, my neighbourhood project, who helped promote the sessions in Bramley.
“We soon realised that we needed a bigger venue and its been working really well at Farsley Celtic and huge thanks to the volunteer team as there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. It’s been a pleasure to bring so much joy to people, there is a huge friendly skate community within Leeds West now.
“It’s happened so fast we haven’t even had time to reflect. It’s been constant! The staff at Farsley have been fantastic and really welcoming. The first week was when the storms hit, and it didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. They still came along.”
One of the attractions of roller skating is that it is a fun activity that parents can join in as well.
Once the initial layout for skates and protective equipment has been made, it is an inexpensive hobby to maintain. Parents often accompany their children and end up buying skates themselves.
One such parent is Michelle Gittens, from Armley, who joins her daughter for skating sessions. Michelle said:
“The Leeds West Rollers group has given myself and my daughter the opportunity to learn a new skills (and bond over a new love) in a safe and friendly environment. Being local and indoors, gives us the option to still get out and do activities during the winter months.
“The session enables us to have fun with friends and feel part of a community. With support from the more experienced skaters, we can advance our skills each week. The combination of exercise, socialising and having fun, provides both of us with physical and mental health benefits.”
You can read all about the mental and physical benefits of roller skating in the previous article.
Another regular skater, Paulette Earl, who is also from Armley, added:
“Skating is my life. It makes me feel so happy and I’ve made so many friends through skating. Farsley (FC) is an amazing place to skate and meet other skaters. The hall space is massive – I love it. I look forward to my Sunday skate.”
She further praised the people behind the event, adding: “The volunteers are doing an amazing job with all the organising.”
As well as organising skating sessions, the volunteers are also raising money for charity. The sessions at Bramley Community Centre raised £80 for the Invisible Pain Theatre Company – a West Leeds-based community theatre group who support people with mental health issues.
There are plans for a roller fundraiser on 20 March, to raise money for Ukrainians who are fleeing from the Russian Invasion.
To find out more about West Leeds Rollers, visit their Facebook group here.
Reserve a space for the sessions at Farsley Celtic here.