Leeds roller girl has skated every single day for the past year in aid of the Alzheimer's Society

Meet the Leeds roller girl who has skated every single day for the past year to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 4:45 am

Laura Taylor, 26, has gone from novice to experienced skater during her 365-day fundraising challenge which kicked off on January 1 2020 after she bought herself some roller boots for Christmas.

A simple desire to learn the sport, and boost her mental health during the pandemic, quickly escalated after she then decided to pledge to strap on the skates every day for the next year - all in aid of charity.

Her final day was December 31, with not one single day dropped in all that time - despite bruises, illnesses and working full time as a graphic designer.

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Fundraising roller girl Laura Taylor, 26, pictured at LS-TEN skate park in Hunslet. Picture: Gary Longbottom

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So far, Laura, from Temple Newsam, has raised over £2,000 for the worthy cause but donations are still very much welcomed.

Looking back at her incredible challenge, she said, despite her love of skating, it had been “hard work”.

“I will never do it again. I’m going to keep skating, don’t get me wrong, but I won’t be doing it every single day. It’s hard work.”

Fundraising roller girl Laura Taylor, 26, pictured at LS-TEN skate park in Hunslet. Picture: Gary Longbottom

It all started when Laura was Christmas shopping in the Corn Exchange and spotted skates on sale at the store, Roller Girl Gang.

“I saw them and just had to have them. So I bought a pair, as a Christmas present to myself, and basically haven’t taken them off since.”

She initially signed up to an existing challenge, to skate every day for a year just for fun - before deciding to make it in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, after a relative was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, a condition which can lead to dementia.

“I started it but I felt like it didn’t mean anything. I was doing it for fun and that’s fine but I felt it was a really hard challenge and I wanted to do it for a purpose.

“My family member had had some incidents during lockdown - I think lockdown probably brought it on to be honest - that was the reason I started. I thought I will continue it but I’m going to do it for a good cause and make more of a thing of it.”

She added: “That is a reason I’ve done it and other friends also have family members that are living with it.

“I think it’s a really horrible disease but I think if you take time to research it, you can understand it clearer.”

Having begun her challenge in winter - and learning that wet weather was no good for skates - much of the early days - and any rainy days - have been spent skating around her kitchen.

But outside of her home, eagle-eyed Leeds folk may have spotted her skating around parks, car parks as well as skate parks - including her favourite, the charity-run LS-TEN in Hunslet - and once dressed as a unicorn: “I thought ‘oh, why not’. I just wanted to change it up a bit,” she laughed.

“During lockdown was great because people weren’t going out often so car parks were empty. I went skating at The Springs. The car park attendants loved it - they were really supportive.

“But it was hard to find places to skate outside - it would be good to have more places to skate in Leeds.

“It has to be a really smooth surface, flat land. So a basketball court or football court with no grass.”

She added: “I saw lots of children on rollerskates as well and they would come up and skate, which was really nice to see.”

When setting the challenge, she never committed to any distance or length of time - just that she would skate every day.

And she said some days it was 15 minutes, and others up to three hours.

Laura said skating definitely boosted her mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

“It’s amazing. It’s great for mental health. You just feel like there’s nothing else to worry about.

“Like exercise [generally], endorphins are released and you are not thinking of anything else.

“You’re thinking about that moment and enjoying yourself.

“It’s a really fun sport. I think anyone could do it. I wouldn’t have thought at 26 that I could do that, but it’s so fun. There are people that I skate with up to 70. All ages, all genders.”

But she did admit that minor injuries are a hazard of roller skating.

“I have had plenty of bruises. My worst was in my kitchen when I fell on my wheels and got a haematoma. I was fine but it was black. I have had a few falls but it’s part of skating, falling over. But if you're wearing the protection, it doesn’t hurt as bad as you’d think. The knee pads are like pillows. “

Laura also credits those she met along the way, in helping her in the challenge.

“With the support of the skating community, I found it easier. They would help and teach me things. I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone.”

Her fundraising target has also been boosted by the creation of some T-shirts - designed by herself - sold online at tabbyfirefly.com, with slogans such as ‘Roller Girl’ and ‘Roll with it’, with £5 per purchase going to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Jenay McCartan, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society said: "The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for families in Leeds. People affected by dementia need us now more than ever, but the pandemic has hit us hard financially, despite an unprecedented demand for our services.

She said the money raised by Laura will help Alzheimer’s Society support more people through services such as its Dementia Connect support line, which has been used almost three million times in the UK since March 2020.

Jenay added: "We are in awe of supporters like Laura whose dedication to fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society ensures that we are able to support those who need it most during this difficult period."

Follow Laura’s skating skills on Instagram at @rollin_with_laura and to make a donation, visit her fundraising page at: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/rollingwithlaura.

For more information on the Alzheimer's Society, visit https://www.alzheimers.org.uk.

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