Mums take to city skatepark to break stereotypes

Gill Harman and Sam Donaldson, two mums who skate at Transgression Park in Mayfield.

Gill Harman and Sam Donaldson, two mums who skate at Transgression Park in Mayfield.

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TO their kids they are simply mums – there for the school drop off, prepared for every eventuality, and always armed with a reassuring smile.

But every Thursday, Gillian Harman and Samantha Donaldson clear their diaries of mum duties to spend an afternoon on their roller skates.

The 38-year-olds want to prove to their children that mums can be “strong and athletic – not just mummies”.

The pair have run Chicks in Bowls Scotland for almost a year after realising their mutual love for quad skating.

The group encourages mums and other woman to let their hair down and experiment on the ramps at skateparks.

Gillian and Samantha, who also both play roller derby for the Lothian Derby Dolls, believe roller skating increases a woman’s strength, agility and fitness.

“At first I felt out of my depth and like a drunk aunty on skates,” Gillian, from Balerno, said. “But I was lucky I was made to feel really welcome at the skatepark.”

Mum-of-two Gillian first visited the Transgression Park in Maybury Industrial Estate last year while she was taking a break from training with the Lothian Derby Dolls due to an injury.

After tearing a ligament in her ankle, Gillian tried skating on the slopes and instantly fell in love with playing on the ramps. It was not long before she began visiting the skatepark regularly to practise.

She said: “I had seen some of the female skaters doing amazing tricks online but thought it was for the young and flexible. Going into a skatepark as a 38-year-old woman was terrifying. The park had no other women in it and the average age of the men skateboarding, inline skating or on BMXs was 25.

“I found skating on a uneven surface was helping my injured ankle. After my trip to Transgression I felt amazing that I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone and was hooked.”

Gillian, who is currently the captain of the Lothian Derby Dolls, arranged for her teammates to try skating at the park and they all loved it as much as she did.

Mum-of-two Samantha’s skating abilities stood out immediately, according to Gillian, and the pair soon took over Chick and Bowls Scotland – attracting around 60 women to their events.

Gillian said: “Sam and I love our Thursdays, pushing and supporting each other. Skating at the park has helped with our agility, strength and confidence.

“We have a brilliant network of friends who use scooters, bmxs, inlines and skateboards.

“I never thought I would feel so comfortable and as welcome as I do at skateparks.”

Gillian added: “We want our daughters and sons to see their mummies as strong athletic women – not just mummies. There is an important reason why we do skatepark skating, and that is to change the perception of what 38-year-old women should be doing.”