By Will Lethbridge
Andrew Sleigh has recently returned to Scilly for the first time since his incredible trip to Palestine to teach children Skateboarding.
Prior to his trip Andrew spoke to Will on Radio Scilly about the work the charity Skatepal do and kindly came back in to the studio for a bit of chat afterwards to talk about his experiences.
Andrew spoke to Will at length about his experiences from arriving in Tel Aviv in Israel and crossing into the West Bank to meeting the local people, visiting refugee camps and teaching the children.
Andrew said, ”It’s actually quite a safe place, it’s just a bus trip to crossover and there are lots of checkpoints but with a British Passport it’s fairly straight forward - Its not quite like it’s portrayed in the media.”
When asked on what his initial experiences were of Palestine and the people Andrew said “The people are really friendly and welcoming. We got invited to weddings and in for food all the time, helped pick olives and local families who showed us around.”
On one occasion Andrew and some of the other volunteers visited a refugee camp near by and said “The poverty and toll of the conflict is very present and it does make you realise how good we really do have it.”
The Isle professional skateboarding team recently went out to film in Palestine and there are talks of other international teams making trips in the New Year. Plans for another Skatepark North of the current one are in the early stages.
SkatePal the charity which Andrew went out to volunteer for was set up in 2006 by English teacher and skateboarder Charlie Davis who would take his board into the streets after class. He was amazed to find crowds of kids gathering round, asking how he made the board jump in the air, assuming there must be magnets in his shoes.
He soon discovered that skateboarding was something new to Palestine, and the idea for SkatePal was born.
Since establishing the charity in 2012, Charlie and a growing team of volunteers have been returning to Palestine on a regular basis; building skateparks and providing skateboarding lessons to young people across the West Bank.
To find out more about the work Skatepal does and how you can get involved log onto www.skatepal.co.uk. You can listen to the full interview with Andrew below.