From New Milton rec to films and an Adidas sponsorship deal in the US – pro-skateboarder and former Arnewood pupil Benny Fairfax
A PASSION ignited at New Milton’s recreation ground over 25 years ago has propelled professional skateboarder Benny Fairfax to travel the globe appearing in films and gaining sponsorship deals with leading brands.
Although born in Ascot, Benny’s story began where he was brought up in New Milton and Ashley, attending the Arnewood School and Brockenhurst College – where he met a like-minded group of around 15 friends who spent every spare minute skateboarding.
He told the A&T: “We started off in New Milton at the recreation ground and on the high street, and when it got dark we used to go over to the Citizens Advice Bureau car park and skate there.
“There was a big group of us at Arnewood together and as we got older we used to travel far and wide, skating all over the area.”
As they progressed with the sport, Benny and his group of friends pressed New Milton Town Council to develop better skate facilities for young people in the town.
Benny, whose mum Silma Ramsaywack is youth services manager at the town council, recently returned to New Milton to meet young skateboarders and celebrate the launch of a new state-of-the-art skate park facility.
He continued: “After Brock I went to South Bank University in London to study movie-making – but, honestly, it was mostly the skating that decided that for me.”
As Benny continued skating at South Bank he started getting noticed, appearing in Sidewalk’s 2004 film In Motion.
Soon he was invited to join the Stereo skate team based in Los Angeles in the US, appearing in several films including Way Out East in 2004, A Journey Through Sound (2007) and Agency Field Report (2008).
He said: “I lived in LA for nine-and-a-half years – out there you really have to do your time and earn your stripes. It was a lot of hard work for a long time before it really took off for me.”
In 2006, after lots of magazine coverage and filming, Benny signed a sponsorship deal with Adidas to promote their shoes, even having a pair of skate trainers named after him.
But there was trouble round the corner as, soon afterwards, Benny was badly injured – dislocating his ankle and breaking several bones.
He said: “That was a hard time. I was on crutches for six months and it was a bit scary to get back into it. It took a while to build my confidence back up but once I knew it was good, it all came back quickly.”
In 2013 Benny returned to London to skate for Palace, a London-based clothing brand founded by his longstanding friend Lev Tanju.
He said: “The last few years have been incredible – Palace has become this global brand. It’s been amazing working with basically a bunch of my best friends as well.”
As a longstanding member of the Adidas skate team, Benny has also taken on the role of team manager for the company’s UK group.
He said: “It’s amazing seeing the new talent that’s emerging, and it so good to have a role in supporting young skaters.
“I’m really lucky that I still get to skate and be involved, but with skateboarding there is always a shelf life.”
Last year Benny joined forces with his mum to launch a new product, Uncle Ernie’s Rum Punch, a 100% natural fruit drink based on the secret recipe cocktail his grandfather developed in the family beach bar in Anguilla.
The rum cocktail is a blend of dark Caribbean rum, natural fruit juices synonymous with the tropical island, and a sprinkling of spice.
To find out more visit www.uncleerniesrumpunch.co.uk