25-year-old professional skateboarder and presenter, James Threlfall, from Devizes has been awarded an MBE for services to Young People in the New Year’s Honours list 2019.
The MBE is in recognition for his work in setting up the Wiltshire Skate Series – a local skateboarding competition for the community’s benefit.
To date James has organised 27 Wiltshire Skate Series events with each attracting around 50 youths. He is also the ambassador for the mental health charity, CALM and works for Inner Flame, which delivers Prince’s Trust courses for disadvantaged young people in Swindon.
We interviewed James to find out more about his work and his thoughts on being honoured by the Queen.
How did you come up with the idea for the Wiltshire Skate Series?
The series essentially came about because I’d reached a level that I wanted to compete at, but couldn’t find any contests to skate outside of much higher standard national events. I began speaking to a youth worker at the time about whether I could run some contests in the area and he helped me to apply for funding. We were successful and have run the series every year since; 2019 marks the 10th year.
How old were you when you hosted the first event?
I was 14 when we put the application for funding in and 15 when we ran the first event.
How has the Wiltshire Skate Series grown since it started?
When it started I kind of had no idea what I was doing, but it’s grown really well over the years. We now have people that regularly compete from a catchment area that spans from London to Cornwall, so whilst the name implies it’s just Wiltshire, our reach has grown to be much wider over the years. We’ve also secured well-known sponsors like Animal, Element, Monster Energy and Red Bull.
What are you most proud of?
Probably securing £200,000 for a new skatepark for Melksham. When I began thinking about redeveloping the existing park there it felt like a bit of a pipe dream (excuse the pun), but things just began to fall into place and suddenly it looked like it could actually happen. Six years down the line and we were opening the new facility. I have to thank quite a few people for that, notably Jonathon Seed who really pushed it through from a council perspective.
What are your plans for 2019 and beyond?
I’m just trying to keep pushing! 2018’s been really busy with TV presenting. I’ve fronted live sports broadcasts for Red Bull, social media content for BBC Three and prior to that hosted a documentary series for AMC Networks. I’ve also been hosting event content for CALM, G-Shock, VICE and NASS Festival, as well as holding down a fortnightly slot on Soho Radio. There’s conversations of a couple of new TV ideas for 2019, as well as pushing further into the world of radio. I’m seeing myself being in London a lot more!
What would be your words to inspire others?
If you’re really passionate about something just believe in the end goal. There’s been some serious times that I’ve felt like giving up, but then thought to myself “if I do, then what?” If you’re really passionate about something it feels like nothing else matters, and that’s when you know you’ve just got to believe in the dream and go for it.
Why is charity/ giving back so important to you?
In honesty, before now I’ve never really reflected on this – I’ve actually never really consciously thought that what I was doing was charitable or giving back. I was just seeing opportunities with the positions I’ve been in to do things for people around me. I just think that’s part of being a good person… If I’m in a position to do something good for people, I’d always try to do that.
How does it feel to be awarded an MBE?
It honestly feels like the biggest shock. I’d never really suspected that I’d receive something like this! Like I say, I’ve kind of never really reflected on the things that I’ve done that have won this award so it’s actually been a really nice opportunity to sit down with my parents and look back over the last ten years. It turns out my mum keeps a lot of newspaper cuttings!
When do you collect it?
I don’t actually know yet but we’ll hear soon. I should be collecting it in the first two months of 2019.
Who’s going with you?
I can take three people, so my girlfriend Rosie, my mum and my dad.
How are you celebrating?
We haven’t really been able to make any plans because we’ve had to keep it secret until now! But I think there’s a party in the works.
What’s next for you/ what are you looking forward to in 2019?
As mentioned before, there’s more TV projects hopefully in the works. I’m trying to make it back out to LA for a few weeks to keep trying to make contacts over there, and hoping to go on holiday with my girlfriend to New York too.
When is the next Wiltshire Skate Series?
The next Wiltshire Skate Series is likely to kick off around April time. We align our calendars early in the year so that we can drill down dates, and we begin to promote in February.
Pictured above: James Threlfall