Heaven is a half-pipe: How two friends turned a medieval Norwich church into a skate park

  • Watch a full report on the medieval church transformed into a skate park

For decades, Sam Avery and Ash Lever have worshipped skateboarding - dreaming of the day they would open their own perfect park.

This Christmas, after crowdfunding thousands of pounds, their prayers were finally answered.

After scouring the rental market for suitable warehouses or industrial units, they chanced upon the perfect property - a 15th-century church.

Sam said: "Once you've walked into a medieval church and had a look with a view to putting a skate park in, you don't really want to go and look at industrial units anymore.

"I don't think you can skateboard anywhere else in a Grade I listed medieval church."

The new skate park has now been open for three weeks in St Peter Parmentergate Church in King Street, Norwich.

It closed in the 1980s, with the congregation moving elsewhere, but now social enterprise Community East is renting it from the Historic Churches Trust.

Sam Avery worked for weeks on end to install the skate park at St Peter Parmentergate Church. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A skateboard shop has been installed alongside various sacred treasures, ramps now sprawl across the nave and coaching sessions are due to start for young skaters.

"We want to make sure that we can keep the heritage on show," said Ash, who juggles his role as a skateboarding coach with his duties as a county councillor in Suffolk.

"We don't want to hide away all the monuments. We want to protect them so people can engage with the heritage as well as learning to skate."

With more than 600, Norfolk has one of the greatest concentrations of churches in the world. Many of the old buildings have been reinvented as cafes and theatres.

"These spaces were originally community spaces," said Sam. "People would have come here to hang out, get together, have conversations, enjoy a mutual interest."

"Obviously years ago it was something else. But now these places are sat empty so it's nice to see them back open."

Sam says anyone who wants a baptism in boarding is welcome to join his congregation. Slots can be booked online for £5 for two hours.

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