This is me: Danielle Gallacher

The skater and WeSC skate camp organiser chats Avril Lavigne, converting scooter kids and how skateboarding has given her the happiest and most exasperating moments she’s ever had

I got into skateboarding through friends. I’ve been around it since I was 14 but I only started skating myself 5/6 years ago. I learnt how to drop in and do some really basic flat ground tricks, but I wasn’t that interested in really pushing myself, it was just something fun to do with my friends on a sunny day.

I was at Harlow skate park when I met Jenna and the Rogue girls on their Mega Mission tour a few years ago. That’s when I started popping along to the girls events and really getting into it a bit more. Seeing the other girls skate is what inspired me to keep at it and push myself a bit more than I perhaps would’ve done. I’ve not looked back since.

How has skateboarding changed since I started? Haha, well I haven’t had Avril Lavigne sang to me in a couple of years! I guess that means the public’s attitude towards skateboarding is changing. It’s definitely more accepted now from what I can see, fashion magazines have adopted the ‘Skater Look’ and every one and their grandma are wearing Vans now. I haven’t really been doing it long enough to be able to give an accurate overview of skateboarding’s changing landscape, but for me, I’m just happy nobody has thrown gravel in front of my board for a couple years.

My feelings on a skateboard definitely fluctuate to the extremes. I’ve probably had some of the happiest, and the most exasperating times of my life on a skateboard.

It cheers you up, calms you down, stresses you out, makes you excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. It’s mad to think the same piece of wood can make you feel all of that.

I appreciate how skateboarding makes you look at the world, it has allowed me to travel the world with a different pair of eyes.

Lately it has been making me feel real nervous though. I’m so keen to get back on a board after breaking my leg and ankle back in February but I’m really scared! It’s been 6 months since I injured myself, I’ve just been discharged from hospital so have been skating a few times since and each time I’ve been so excited that I forget to take it easy and ended up in a bit of pain or limping the next day which I have to hide or I get told off!  It’s all part and parcel though, I’m just stoked I’ve been back in time for all this amazing weather we’ve been having.

My partner Mark had been working on the WeSC Camps in Sweden since about 2005. It was something he loved doing so decided he’d like to set up a similar thing over here in the UK. 2011 saw the first UK camp in Truro, it ran for just one week but was such a massive hit with all the kids that in 2012 we decided to extend the camp to 2 weeks, then this year we had an Easter camp in Hull as well as the 2 weeks of summer camps we have coming up this August.

Everything is included so the kids just turn up, skate with loads of pros, have a rad time and take home a load of product at the end of the week! What better way is there to spend your summer?

We’ve had girl skaters attend each camp. And have had Rogue and Animal team rider Claire Thompson with us, as well as Charlotte Thatcher who has been doing well at the girl competitions so far this summer. We really want more girls to come and so offer a bit of a discount as an incentive. We usually like the kids to know the basics before coming to camp so they can get the most out of it, but we welcome all girls at beginner level. I’m there all the time to help teach those things to the girls and they always go away so much more confident. It’s a great thing to get in to and so much fun.

The best thing about doing the camps is just getting to spend time with all the kids at the park and back at the house. I love to encourage and get them stoked to try new stuff. I film fun mini clips on my phone to get them all hyped. There’s nothing better than seeing a kid land a trick they’ve been getting beat up over all day. It’s so funny. The thank you messages after the camp are always overwhelming too, kids can be so sweet.

The advice I’d give a 12 year old me would be to just enjoy being young, start skateboarding, keep up my piano lessons, pay attention in school, and to not care what anybody else thinks.

 I admire all the young girls I see at skateparks by themselves trying to push along or learn ollies, regardless of whether or not it’s seen as cool, or as something that boys do. They’re doing it anyway, because they want to. That’s what’s cool.

To get more girls skating there needs to be more girls-specific events, more media coverage and we need more skaters to encourage the younger less experienced girls they see at their local skateparks. Just take 5 minutes to go up to them, say hello, tell them it’s pretty cool to see them skating and ask if they’d like a hand if they look like they’re having trouble trying to do something.

Last week I taught 4 separate girls some basics to help them along and they were all so grateful, I saw one girl afterwards rally up her mates from the field and taught them what I had shown her to do. They were all practicing by the end and would perhaps never have tried if somebody hadn’t taken the time to give that kind of encouragement. I think it’s really important.

When I’m not skating I love teaching young people how to skate and trying to convert scooter kids. I also like painting outside, drawing in my sketchbook, cooking, sewing, making things for people, riding my bike, visiting family and friends, walks in the Peak District and hanging out with my pet rats, Eddy & Fausto. They are super cool.

For more on Dani’s WeSC Skate Camps in the UK this August go here


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