Have we ever seen a skateboarder nominated for a Sporting Achievement award? It's pretty much unheard of, yet here is Denham Hill, a 25 year old freestyle skateboarder doing just that.
I asked him to tell us more about his skater life and how he got to be nominated - so go have a read, then follow the link to the voting page and please vote for him. As a community of longboarders and skateboarders, covering every discipline of the art, lets get his back.
"I'm Denham Hill and I'm 25 years old. I got into skateboarding in a big way about 10 years ago. I never really expected much to come from it, I just wanted to skate and have fun. Of course, I still do but I had no idea what profound effect skateboarding would have on my life. It became the single most long-standing and positive influence on my being and became a passion and an obsession.
A lot of people ask me why I skate. I could deliberate the answer to that for hours on end and still not feel I had covered every reason. To narrow it down a little - I skate because it's one of the few things I feel I simply couldn't live without.
Skateboarding spoke to me in a way little else could. This "fad" became my vehicle for self expression, my crutch and a cathartic release of energy. Skateboarding has given me the strength, commitment and determination to overcome many obstacles in life and asks for nothing in return. I've been given a sense of community and achievement that I couldn't find anywhere else.
I turned Pro, started entering competitions and got myself into the top 20 freestyle skateboarders in the World at Canada's World Round-Up. I could equally have not qualified and I wouldn't have cared. I was just happy to be there, to skate and share experiences with some incredible people.
I have always thought it is vital to give back to the skateboarding community. To leave a legacy for when the day comes that, God forbid, my body or my health won't allow me to skate any more. The world is unpredictable. You never know if your next session could be your last. With this in mind, I dedicate my time to introducing young people to skateboarding and this is part of what led to my nomination in the 'Sporting Achievement' category of the Yorkshire Choice Awards.
I work for Sk8 Safe, a skateboard coaching company, delivering sessions to young people across the UK, particularly in the North. Our key aim is to promote equality and diversity through skateboarding, giving kids the opportunity to skate when previously it may have been unavailable. At Sk8 Safe, I also educate brand new coaches through the Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions Qualification, a first of it's kind qualification legitimising the coaching practises, allowing them to deliver their own beginner's skateboarding sessions.
This isn't about making skateboarding another regimented activity. It's about introducing as many young people to skateboarding as possible in a safe and positive way. It's terrifying for a lot of young kids to rock up on a park by themselves. We aim to provide an entry point for those newcomers and give them the skills and confidence they need to develop as skaters. Part of the joy of skateboarding is discovery, and we encourage young people to find their own path, while providing a solid starting point and foundation.
We also help community skateparks with funding and grant applications, helping them take ownership of their park and developing their local facilities. It's vital to keep skateparks active and thriving, and we strive to connect with users to help them manage their park. Not only for current users, but future generations.
My purpose and my joy in life is skateboarding. My mission is, and always will be, to introduce as many young people to skateboarding as possible, ensuring the next generation have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a pastime that has given us all so much.
Go out there and inspire, there's a kid just like you somewhere who needs skateboarding. They just might need a little help finding it."
Words by Denham Hill
Photos by Ry Swanton (skatepark) and Jim Goodrich (World Round Up, Canada, 2016)