Fri, 08 Sept 2017
A BMX track built in memory of a Thatcham teenager has been officially unveiled, five years after his death.
The Tom Slater Memorial Pump Track was opened at the Henwick Sports Ground last Thursday.
Mr Slater was killed in a collision on the A339 in 2012 at the age of 17.
He enjoyed riding his bike at the Henwick fields and a project to remember the trainee mechanic was subsequently launched.
His father, Paul, and local builder Stuart Luker raised more than £30,000 through a sponsored cycle ride in 2013, which saw 29 riders cycle 232 miles from Thatcham to Paris.
The group was helped by generous sponsors, including Jon Tisdall of CYO Seeds and the late Pete Sherratt.
Further funds came from the Greenham Trust, which match-funded £5,170, alongside a grant of £4,318.
Mr Slater said: “I’m delighted that this facility is now open for young people to enjoy.
“I can’t thank everyone who has made it happen enough. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local companies and people.
“Thomas used to play in the Henwick Sports Ground all the time.
“He particularly loved the BMX humps in the north side of the field, where he and his friends use to jump their bicycles.
“I approached the Henwick Joint Management Committee (JMC) about the possibility of putting a memorial bench in the south corner of the field, which they granted willingly.
“Stuart Luker, of Ashmore Green Construction, then asked if we could help him raise some money to repair the old BMX track as a larger memorial to Tom as he loved it so much and the JMC very kindly agreed to that too.
“It was great to get it finished while the children were on school holiday so they could make the most of it.
“My thanks to all involved, especially the riders who rode with me to Paris, my wife Peni and daughter Sophie for their support and all our sponsors who made it possible.”
The memorial bench was installed in 2012, but plans for the track stalled following issues raised by nearby residents.
The concerns, over potential anti-social behaviour and noise at the northern end of the field, led to the plans being postponed.
Then flooding on the southern edge delayed the project further.
However, earlier this year West Berkshire Council, which owns the site, offered the family land on the west of the field instead.
The council’s executive member for culture and environment, Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), said: “I’m delighted that we were able to help accommodate this great facility.
“It’s a testament to the power of the collective and what can be achieved when people work towards a common aim.
“I'm sure that the young people of Thatcham will really enjoy and appreciate it.”
Chairman of the Henwick JMC, Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham), said: “I’m delighted with the end product of this project and it’s been exciting seeing it come from plans to reality.
“I’ve already spoken to some early users of the track, and they absolutely love it.”
Earlier today The Tom Slater Memorial Pump Track opened in Thatcham. Here his dad, Paul, describes what Tom would have made of it. pic.twitter.com/S01qGvNHx5— West Berkshire (@WestBerkshire) August 31, 2017