One vision - how I sacrificed my career to transform disused warehouse into top skate park

One vision - how I sacrificed my career to transform disused warehouse into top skate park

Youth Pastor Andy Putt with young skaters enjoying the facillities at the new StreetLight Centre skate park in Wimborne

From disused warehouse to top skate park - how one man sacrificed his career to help community

First published in News by

“I’ve believed in this since I was 17 years old, and to see it come to life has been a dream come true.”

Those are the words of a former youth pastor who sacrificed his career to transform a disused warehouse into a premier skating destination for young people in Dorset.

Andy Putt was still a teenager when he had the idea of opening a space where anyone could come and enjoy sports like skateboarding and BMXing.

But it wasn’t until last year that he finally felt able to follow his goal, and promptly left his job at St John’s Church in Wimborne to pursue it full-time.

It was, he admits, a “big decision to make”.

Originally from Southampton, Andy moved to Wimborne in 2007 to take up his work with the church.

“I worked with young people from the community and ran a youth club during the evening,” he says now.

“But I kept thinking that, although that was great on Thursdays and Fridays, what happened on the other nights of the week? Wimborne is a fantastic place, and it would be wonderful to grow up here, but there isn’t a huge amount going on for younger people. There was a real need for a facility that opened more often.”

And so he began to recall his dreams of a permanent facility for young people.

“When I was 17, I had this idea of a community centre that was open to adults and young people and was rooted in my Christian beliefs,” he says.

“Although this came out of my faith, I wanted this place to be available to anyone, regardless of religion. That’s what I’ve wanted since then.

“But this came back into my mind a couple of years ago, and I started to dream a bit further – how could I make this actually happen?”

The process was surprisingly swift.

Although it must have felt like a mammoth undertaking at times, the StreetLight Centre, with its skate park, soft play, ball pool, meeting centre and cafe – was crafted in just five months, in large part thanks to an unlikely partnership with a haulage company.

Andy explains: “I met someone who works for Shears Brothers Transport Ltd in March last year, just weeks after I left my job.

“I arranged a meeting with the owners and talked them through what my plans were. They were really keen to get involved and help out. Their trustees approved them letting us use a disused warehouse on the Stone Lane Industrial Estate in Wimborne, and it just went from there. They’ve been so supportive.”

And while finding the perfect space was youth pastor’s a huge achievement, it was just the beginning for Andy – who then had to ‘up tools’ himself to build the park.

“Finding the unit was the start of it all,” he says.

“It’s absolutely massive in there. It covers about 7,000 square feet, so it’s huge, and we then had to actually fill the space. I knew exactly what I wanted. It wasn’t just about the skate park. I wanted somewhere for people of all ages to be able to go, and that meant a cafe.

“Then on top of that, I wanted a soft play centre for mums with young children. It had to be somewhere that everyone could enjoy.”

So started months of graft, during which time Andy and a small team of builders worked – often late into the night – to shape the space.

But Andy never doubted himself. “It was hard, hard work,” he says.

“I’m not a builder. I’d never done anything like it before. It was a case of learning as I went along – just trying things out, seeing how it went. I was incredibly lucky because a lot of people really got behind the project to support it.

“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.”

Earlier this year the centre opened and was immediately a hit with hordes of young skateboarders, BMX riders and scooterists – as well as their parents, grandparents and younger siblings.

“It’s got this fantastic atmosphere,” says Andy.

“We get lots of older people coming in for a cup of coffee in the cafe. Parents come in to meet each other with their children. No one has to feel as if they’re being rushed away, or that they’re unwelcome.

“It’s a friendly place for everyone in the community. I feel immensely blessed to have played a part in this.”

  • Streetlightproject.org.uk

Comments (12)

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11:08am Sun 6 Jul 14

ShuttleX says...

The Church is supposed to be a vocation, not a career. None the less, this looks like a good scheme, hope it works.
The Church is supposed to be a vocation, not a career. None the less, this looks like a good scheme, hope it works. ShuttleX
  • Score: -11

11:51am Sun 6 Jul 14

jill M says...

Well done Andy, for giving the kids somewhere they can go to skateboard, and to Shears brothers for the warehouse, it's nice to hear a good news story for a change, people doing something for the benefit of others.
Well done Andy, for giving the kids somewhere they can go to skateboard, and to Shears brothers for the warehouse, it's nice to hear a good news story for a change, people doing something for the benefit of others. jill M
  • Score: 24

12:05pm Sun 6 Jul 14

EddieVH says...

"StreetLight is a Local Project, reaching Wimborne for Christ"

So, Andy has not given up his career. He's out pushing his mumbo-jumbo to impressionable young minds under the guise of giving them something fun to do. Shame,
"StreetLight is a Local Project, reaching Wimborne for Christ" So, Andy has not given up his career. He's out pushing his mumbo-jumbo to impressionable young minds under the guise of giving them something fun to do. Shame, EddieVH
  • Score: -27

12:49pm Sun 6 Jul 14

Sir Beachy Head says...

“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.”

....

Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places.
I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters.

At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.
“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.” .... Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places. I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters. At least they are off the streets so that is a positive. Sir Beachy Head
  • Score: -10

1:36pm Sun 6 Jul 14

cazzia says...

Sir Beachy Head wrote:
“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.”

....

Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places.
I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters.

At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.
Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir.....
[quote][p][bold]Sir Beachy Head[/bold] wrote: “And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.” .... Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places. I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters. At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.[/p][/quote]Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir..... cazzia
  • Score: -2

1:39pm Sun 6 Jul 14

cazzia says...

EddieVH wrote:
"StreetLight is a Local Project, reaching Wimborne for Christ"

So, Andy has not given up his career. He's out pushing his mumbo-jumbo to impressionable young minds under the guise of giving them something fun to do. Shame,
There hasn't been any mumbo jumbo as you so call it , pushed onto my son whilst hes there, what soever.its a great little skateclub actually.
[quote][p][bold]EddieVH[/bold] wrote: "StreetLight is a Local Project, reaching Wimborne for Christ" So, Andy has not given up his career. He's out pushing his mumbo-jumbo to impressionable young minds under the guise of giving them something fun to do. Shame,[/p][/quote]There hasn't been any mumbo jumbo as you so call it , pushed onto my son whilst hes there, what soever.its a great little skateclub actually. cazzia
  • Score: 13

3:13pm Sun 6 Jul 14

Sir Beachy Head says...

cazzia wrote:
Sir Beachy Head wrote:
“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.”

....

Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places.
I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters.

At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.
Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir.....
I have no faith. I am an athiest.

......

If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.

Richard Dawkins
[quote][p][bold]cazzia[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sir Beachy Head[/bold] wrote: “And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.” .... Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places. I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters. At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.[/p][/quote]Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir.....[/p][/quote]I have no faith. I am an athiest. ...... If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists. Richard Dawkins Sir Beachy Head
  • Score: -1

5:12pm Sun 6 Jul 14

sea poole says...

As soon as anything associated with faith is mentioned, people's own prejudices come creeping out of the woodwork-as testified by comments above. Although I don't involve myself with religion, I'd like to congratulate Andy on what he's achieved for the local youngsters. How his work is associated with wrongdoings as per Sir Beachy Head's rantings about Syria etc goodness only knows. Why not just accept and compliment what Andy is doing for his community...and no -I've never met the guy
As soon as anything associated with faith is mentioned, people's own prejudices come creeping out of the woodwork-as testified by comments above. Although I don't involve myself with religion, I'd like to congratulate Andy on what he's achieved for the local youngsters. How his work is associated with wrongdoings as per Sir Beachy Head's rantings about Syria etc goodness only knows. Why not just accept and compliment what Andy is doing for his community...and no -I've never met the guy sea poole
  • Score: 11

6:32pm Sun 6 Jul 14

cazzia says...

Sir Beachy Head wrote:
cazzia wrote:
Sir Beachy Head wrote:
“And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.”

....

Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places.
I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters.

At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.
Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir.....
I have no faith. I am an athiest.

......

If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.

Richard Dawkins
We are talking about a SKATECLUB Sir Beachy Head,somewhere for kids to have some fun, Andy has done a great job in creating the club . Thankyoiu for sharing the fact that you have no faith but the skateclub is not a religious club its for kids to go to after school and to enjoy.
[quote][p][bold]Sir Beachy Head[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cazzia[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sir Beachy Head[/bold] wrote: “And I always had my faith. This is something God wanted to happen, and that’s how it happened in the way that it did.” .... Its a shame god took so much interest in your project whilst ignoring the murder and chaos that he has done nothing to stop in syria and central africa, to name just two places. I do hope you dont preach your fantasies and delusions to impressionable youngsters. At least they are off the streets so that is a positive.[/p][/quote]Its a shame you have such little faith yourself Sir.....[/p][/quote]I have no faith. I am an athiest. ...... If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists. Richard Dawkins[/p][/quote]We are talking about a SKATECLUB Sir Beachy Head,somewhere for kids to have some fun, Andy has done a great job in creating the club . Thankyoiu for sharing the fact that you have no faith but the skateclub is not a religious club its for kids to go to after school and to enjoy. cazzia
  • Score: 3

6:33pm Sun 6 Jul 14

boardsandphotos says...

sea poole wrote:
As soon as anything associated with faith is mentioned, people's own prejudices come creeping out of the woodwork-as testified by comments above. Although I don't involve myself with religion, I'd like to congratulate Andy on what he's achieved for the local youngsters. How his work is associated with wrongdoings as per Sir Beachy Head's rantings about Syria etc goodness only knows. Why not just accept and compliment what Andy is doing for his community...and no -I've never met the guy
Hear! Hear! Good work Andy!
[quote][p][bold]sea poole[/bold] wrote: As soon as anything associated with faith is mentioned, people's own prejudices come creeping out of the woodwork-as testified by comments above. Although I don't involve myself with religion, I'd like to congratulate Andy on what he's achieved for the local youngsters. How his work is associated with wrongdoings as per Sir Beachy Head's rantings about Syria etc goodness only knows. Why not just accept and compliment what Andy is doing for his community...and no -I've never met the guy[/p][/quote]Hear! Hear! Good work Andy! boardsandphotos
  • Score: 4

8:24am Mon 7 Jul 14

Marty Caine UKIP says...

Does it really matter where he believes his strength and conviction came from to make a dream come true, the outcome of his hard work is a place where children can go and enjoy themselves. Well done Andy on completing your project, I for one wish you the very best of luck with it.
Does it really matter where he believes his strength and conviction came from to make a dream come true, the outcome of his hard work is a place where children can go and enjoy themselves. Well done Andy on completing your project, I for one wish you the very best of luck with it. Marty Caine UKIP
  • Score: 2

8:25am Mon 7 Jul 14

podgie says...

And the Lord said let there be a skate park,and so it came to pass.
Fantastic work from the young lad,but keep all religious mumbo jumbo away from this facility.
For those who want a full explanation on all religions watch
'religulouse' by Bill Meyer ,free on Youtube.
My work here is done.
here endeth the first lesson.
And the Lord said let there be a skate park,and so it came to pass. Fantastic work from the young lad,but keep all religious mumbo jumbo away from this facility. For those who want a full explanation on all religions watch 'religulouse' by Bill Meyer ,free on Youtube. My work here is done. here endeth the first lesson. podgie
  • Score: 1

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