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Pioneering Fleet skateboarder honoured in skate park tribute

Michael Bews, who died from septicaemia in 2011, was one of a group of skateboarders who campaigned for a ramp in Fleet

 

A plaque has been unveiled in Fleet town centre in memory of a skateboarding pioneer who died aged 38.

Michael Bews, known as Mike, was part of a group of boys who petitioned for a skate ramp at the top of The Views in 1989.

Mike, who grew up and went to school in Fleet, was in good health when his stomach became twisted and he died from septicaemia in August 2011.

Now, nearly three years on, his friends and family have displayed a commemorative plaque at the skate park.

Paul Bews, Mike’s dad from Fleet, made a speech at the ceremony on July 4, which was attended by around 30 people.

He said: “I am told that Mike was king of the ramp, jumping the highest and first to perform the new tricks that the pros were doing.

“In fact he probably could have made a career of his skateboarding had he chosen to.

“Eventually the boys wanted their own ramp in Fleet and my back garden was the chosen location.

“The garden is quite small and, when finished, the ramp took up all available space and completely wrecked the lawn and all flowers and plants in the garden.

“However, I was so impressed with the engineering skills, with very limited tools, that I allowed the project to continue.”

When not skating in Mr Bews’ garden or in Farnborough the boys would meet in Gurkha Square in Fleet, jumping any obstacles they could find and sliding on the hand rails.

It was there that they started a petition for a skate ramp to be built in their home town and they presented design drawings to Fleet Town Council. It was eventually given permission in 2003.

'Lived life on the edge'

Craig Arthur was one of Mike’s closest friends and went to Court Moor School with him. He was also the one who liaised with the council to bring the plaque to fruition.

Mr Arthur, who now lives in Kingston and works in Farnborough, said: “When we got to the skate park for the ceremony the kids stopped using the ramp which was very respectful.

“The kids were brilliant and listened to Mike’s dad who gave a presentation on the background of the site.

“It was very emotional. It was perfect.”

Mike’s mum Vivienne Sulkoski and sister Stephanie Moorey unveiled the plaque. Mrs Sulkoski, who now lives in the USA, described her son as honourable, kind and an animal-lover.

She said: “He didn’t think there was anything special about himself, but he was charismatic and everyone he met instinctively liked him.

“He was concerned about people who were less fortunate than himself and would not think twice about offering shelter to someone who needed it.

“He lived life on the edge - bungee jumping, snow boarding, deep sea fishing and taking flights in small Cessna planes.

“Of course this adventurous spirit was pioneered by his love of skateboarding.

“His friends all agree he was fearless. His passion brought him recognition in the professional world and his greatest wish as a teenager was to have a skateboard park in Fleet.”

She added: “He campaigned along with his friends to this cause and would be so thrilled that his efforts were not in vain.”

 
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