Around 7 years ago the wooden skatepark in my village had reached a poor state of repair. It had become clear that the only solution was to replace the entire skatepark. Over the course of 2 years myself, other local riders, skaters and a member of the parish council fundraised £170,000 to have a new concrete skatepark built. The park was finished in August 2015 and a month later with support from a local BMX and Skate shop I put on a jam at the skatepark. Seeing how much this jam meant to the local kids I felt obliged to put another jam on the following year.
“The fortune cookie said, ‘All the energy you use up will pay off’”
Fast forward to February 2020 and I’m sending out emails to potential sponsors for the 6th annual Stansted jam, completely unaware of the COVID nightmare that lay ahead. A month down the line and with a few sponsors confirmed, the world goes completely insane. I decided rather than cancelling the jam I would wait it out and see how the situation unfolded.
Fast forward again to July, lockdown restrictions have been eased and life is returning to some form of normality. I pop the question to the council, “So what are the chances of the jam happening this year?” Much to my surprise the council weren’t just happy for the jam to happen but they wanted it to happen, as long as it was done in a COVID secure way. I felt it had to happen in order to bring a little joy to a mostly bleak year.
Words by Sean Tompson Photos by Stuart George
After writing COVID risk assessments, mountains of other paperwork and purchasing all the COVID safety equipment necessary, the council were satisfied and the jam was going ahead. Onto securing sponsorship, all the usual suspects were on board as soon as I sent out the message, a few other potential sponsors got in contact over Instagram and were happy to lend their support. Prizes all sorted. A local rave crew called Skitz Audio bring part of their sound system down every year, of course they were up for it again. They create the perfect vibe, spinning Jungle, Garage and DnB on the decks all day long. The final piece of the puzzle was to get some food on site. I usually get a burger van and an ice cream van down each year but I decided to mix it up a bit and get a dumpling cart down instead of the burger van. Much to my surprise this went down an absolute treat with everyone.
Onto the big day, the weather was beautiful, clear blue skies, mid 20s heat and very little wind. After getting to the park at 7am and spending most of the morning setting up we were finally ready to rock and roll. I decided to eat a fortune cookie from the dumpling cart just before the jam started. I read the note inside, which said, “All the energy you use up will pay off.” I knew then that the day was going to be a success.
I ran the jam as short jam sessions for certain age categories in each sport. This means every one of all ages and abilities, no matter what sport they’re into gets to take part and have fun. First up was two scooter jams, these both ran smoothly and lots of kids left with smiles. Next was the inline jam, amazingly this year was the best turnout I’ve ever had for inline, some big tricks were sent and the pace was certainly set for the skateboarders. Early afternoon and the two skateboard jams were underway, prizes flying out left, right and centre. I got so stoked on what was happening, by the time skateboarding was over my throat was wrecked… I now sounded like a darts commentator.
3pm rolls up and it’s finally time for BMX, save the best till last is what I like to say. First it was the under 16s jam. For this we had mostly local kids plus a few riders who had travelled, one from as far as Ashford. We had jam sessions on certain parts of the park with riders getting a small prize whenever I saw them pushing themselves. The bigger prizes go out to winners of high air, long jump, best trick etc.
“After asking other riders what they thought we came to the conclusion that Kaz had won absolutely everything”
As the clock ticks 3:45 it’s the moment I’ve been waiting for, 16+ BMX and I get to see my friends from all over send it at my local skatepark. We had a collection of riders from the local area, some regulars, some who only emerge once a year to send it for old times’ sake and finally the well-known riders who come from all over. This year we were blessed with appearances from Ash Finley, Jack Maguire, Matt Harris and Kaz Campbell to name a few.
Starting things off with a best trick jam on the jumpbox, almost instantly Jack Maguire sends a 360 whip bar over the box, usually this wouldn’t surprise me from Jack but this box certainly isn’t a FISE size ramp. With a little encouragement Tom Leaver one-banged a frontflip and everyone went mental. After this it was the high jump comp. My height pole is only 8.5ft and isn’t up to task for this calibre of riding. Kaz won the high jump by hitting around 9ft, closely followed by Ash who smashed out an 8ft high backflip like it was nothing.
The long jump comp was also won by Kaz who decided to take a victory lap by doing a turndown further than anyone else even managed to jump. There’s no stopping that dude. After having a general jam on the whole park we turned our focus to the 6ft extension quarter. Ash sent a massive flair whip higher than most can air and followed it up with a footjam whip on the 6 inch wide deck of the quarter. Finally to wrap it all up we did the high air comp. The winner of this was to get an A3 framed photo of their winning high air courtesy of the jam’s photographer Stuart George. It really was the battle of the titans on this one: Matt, Ash and Kaz were pretty much all evenly tied, Kaz managed one air that looked a smidge higher, after asking other riders what they thought we came to the conclusion that Kaz had won absolutely everything. And then straight after the jam Kaz drove to Woodyard trails and sent a 360 over the infamous gate jump, what a savage!
Overall the jam was a resounding success, the council were happy with how it was run, everyone that took part had a massive smile on their face and I was able to go home knowing I had done my bit to inject just a little bit of rad to people’s lives within my local community.
The jam wouldn’t have been possible without all the sponsors or the people who helped out on the day. Big thanks to Trevor Lloyd from the council. Yeomans Café, Mix Wine bar, Seventies Distribution, Tall Order, Grind BMX, Source BMX, Devoted Clothing, Emtrex, Nxt-Gen co, District scooters and Dominator action sports.