How group started a skating revolution which has helped improved health in West Leeds

When a group of roller-skaters met up on Armley Park tennis courts in the summer of 2021, they never could have realised what they were about to start.

By Daniel Sheridan
Monday, 16th May 2022, 4:30 pm

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'Leeds West Rollers' originally began with Susan Cunningham and a small group meeting up due to their love of skating.

Their passion for the sport steadily picked up more people who wanted to take part socially and to improve their health and fitness.

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The group has gained hundreds of followers and transformed the social lives of many West Leeds residents eager to try out a new sport. cc Leeds West Rollers

However it was in January 2022 when the spark ignited for the group with a change of location to Bramley Community Centre - allowing indoor sessions to take place.

Since then - alongside a later move to Farsley Celtic Sports Hall due to the increase in participants - the group has gained hundreds of followers and transformed the social lives of many West Leeds residents eager to try out a new sport.

Each week, more than 40 people meet up at the hall to skate, chat and to learn new skills and tips.

Roller skating strengthens the heart and bones, relieves stress, lowers blood glucose levels and improves cholesterol levels according to studies.

The group has gained hundreds of followers and transformed the social lives of many West Leeds residents eager to try out a new sport. cc Leeds West Rollers

Almost 500 people now follow the group on Facebook and there are plans to run a summer outdoor skate program - such is the demand for the sport.

Speaking to the YEP, Susan Cunningham said the waiting list was growing and thanked the support of the community.

She said she never could have believed how fast the group would grow.

The group even raised more than £130 for Ukraine refugees during a recent fundraising skate.

The group has gained hundreds of followers and transformed the social lives of many West Leeds residents eager to try out a new sport. cc Leeds West Rollers

"Leeds West Rollers originally began with a few skaters meeting up at Armley Park Tennis courts", she explained.

"Many a times we spoke about the lack of indoor and outdoor skate space across the Leeds West area and how we’d like to find a regular spot to roll at.

"Fast forward to January 2022, I began looking at indoor venues and decided on Bramley Community Centre, due to its location and easy access via bus routes and the floor being quite smooth.

"The sessions really took off from there, with a waiting list, mums and daughters, families and friends skating together.

The group has gained hundreds of followers and transformed the social lives of many West Leeds residents eager to try out a new sport. cc Leeds West Rollers

"Sessions were relaxed, from beginners to advanced skaters sharing ideas, skills and tips!

"From these sessions a volunteer team naturally came together to keep the sessions going and support."

Leeds West Rollers has had support from LSTen indoor skate park with part of the set up.

They applied for funding via Leeds Community Foundation an were successful with the support of councillor Kevin Ritchie.

"We soon realised how popular the sessions had become and that we required a larger venue", Susan said.

"Farsley Celtic Sports Hall was perfect!

"So from mid February we launched our weekly sessions on Sundays 4-6pm there.

"The local communities have really supported, which has been amazing, we’ve also held a Ukraine skate fundraiser raising £135 and sent this via The Red Cross.

"Our sessions have closed for the Summer and will re launch ready for Autumn/Winter from Sunday October 2."

The group will meet on Wednesdays at Armley Park Tennis courts from 6.30pm to 8pm and will also be skating at Kirkstall Abbey.

There are also plans for a 'seaside roll', Susan said.

Sessions at Farsley have halted for the summer but will restart in October, Susan said.

"As we are a volunteer team, funds raised have been donated to local charities; MHA Communities Farsley a charity that supports older people and Swinnow Community Centre in Pudsey", she added.

"This all began with the love of skating and the feeling of joy that it brings!

"It’s been a wonderful journey especially seeing new skaters progress and lots of young people have taken it up too!"