Who is Barney Page?
Barney Page is one of the UK’s favourite exports. Well, I say export, he doesn’t seem to linger anywhere for too long at a time so I guess he is kind of the UK’s favourite nomad.
When we saw he had completed his epic long-distance skate from John O’Groats to Land’s End (for the incredibly important and amazing Ben Raemers Foundation) we knew it would be a great time to ask him some questions about the Foundation, himself and the crazy amount of distance he had to cover on his board.
We are massive fans of both the Ben Raemers foundation and Barney, so to be able to get the opportunity to pick his brain regarding mental health, friends and the future was a huge privilege. Thanks so much Barney!
The Ben Raemers Foundation
We wanted to do this interview primarily to talk to you about your recent achievement of skating the length of the country for the Ben Raemers foundation. To start with, can you please tell us what the Ben Reamers foundation is, what they do and why people should care about important causes such as this?
The Ben Raemers Foundation is a mental health charity that has been set up to help men struggling with mental health issues. battling mental health alone can be extremely difficult and without the help and support needed you could find yourself spiralling out of control.
The Foundation is there to help support people suffering from mental health issues and to push education and awareness.
How well did you know Ben?
I met Ben for the first time in my late teens, so for many years. After officially meeting Ben, travelling and spending the first few months together it really gave us time to get to know each other. Throughout the years our directions changed in terms of sponsors but our friendship stayed the same.
Have you got a favourite story or quote from Ben?
Whoever was ever lucky enough to meet ben would know he was full of quotes and funny stories. Personally, there are many that come to mind, from all the skate events, festivals, parties, travels.
My fondest memory as of right now would have to be the last time I saw Ben. I was randomly visiting my family home in Exeter when I had a random call from ben one afternoon “ eeeey what’s up mate? I’m in Exeter” my reaction was “why?” Nobody ever has a reason to come to Exeter as it’s quite a dead place to visit. so Ben continues “well I’m in Newquay” not Exeter at all. actually, it’s in a completely different region haha. Anyhow, we arranged to meet the following morning for breakfast on his way back to London. I have to say it was really funny seeing him in Exeter. Ben would always try to have people visit his home turf in Essex and he was finally visiting mine.
What was mainly going through your head whilst you were skating the length of the UK? Was it tough?
I had a lot of hours on the road by myself to think over many subjects. Of course, each day has its ups and downs, weather, terrain, hills etc all had a big impact on each day. Every time I was in a struggle, I felt I was being defeated and I needed something to push me, I’d think about Ben every time, it really helped. I just visualised him laughing at me for what I was doing, it really changed my mood as I thought “haha fuck you”
What was the hardest part about doing such a major thing?
The entire trip as a whole. From the start, I had no idea how to plan such a journey but step by step I eventually managed to figure it out with the help of my friends, and that was just the beginning. After everything was finally organised and set in place I embarked up to john o groats where I was about to really start one of the hardest physical and mental experiences of my life so far… entail endurance.
What kept you going?
How much did you train for the journey? Or should it be, how much do you wish you trained?
I’d push along the river to the beaches from Exeter. pushing in a good 25-30 miles in a day and then head to a boxing class a couple of evenings a week. When I was out of the city I’d just bring my cruiser and push the city to everywhere I was trying to skate.
When we eventually started to drive to Scotland I definitely started to get in my head and ask myself if I should have trained more but I’d just tell myself to stay focused with a positive attitude.
Were you listening to music or just telling yourself to keep pushing?
Music sometimes but the cars and the rain made it feel particularly dangerous most of the time. I just wanted to be alert for the cars passing and the aggressive drivers. People are dangerous!
Any interesting stories from the trip?
We all stayed in a castle one night. I stopped for a drink on the side of the road in the pouring rain, out of nowhere a green rain cloak appeared, it was a woman that had just passed us by a mile or so up the road. She ended up inviting us to stay with her for the night to get out of the rain. At this point, we weren’t aware that she lived in a castle. Anyway, after she gave us her contact number we continued to push the remainder of the miles for that day. We ended up calling her to see if we could take her up on her offer. On the phone, she says’ ‘you probably noticed our house a couple of miles back, it’s the big sandstone castle on the hill” we all look at each other thinking ‘what!’ We pull up and the castle turns out to be an 18th-century castle built on top of a mediaeval ruin. Needless to say, we slept like kings that night.
I saw you start the trip with a nollie flip, did you hit any other spots on the way down? Or was it just push, push, push?!
I did a couple of drop-ins and carves on random things but I really didn’t have the energy to attempt any worthy tricks.
How much money did you raise in the end and how will it be used?
£20,000! The foundation is strategically planning on what to do with the money raised in the future but I can assure you it’s in the right hands.
Have you got any tips for maintaining a healthy mindset?
Positivity. Just know that you can do anything you put your mind to.
Have you noticed a change in which friends/family interact with each other since these issues have been raised? I know in my group of friends, showing appreciation of each other has definitely improved, and conversation regarding mental health or other serious matters has become less taboo.
Definitely. People are starting to educate themselves about mental health. Understanding is key. I truly believe that many people have started to support their loved ones more and a positive future lies ahead.
Travel and lifestyle
You seem to love travelling, is this something you attribute to maintain a healthy mindset?
Traveling is something I love to do but just like anything it has its ups and down “the grass is always greener” none the less I do believe it’s important to get away from your reality and reset yourself. Relax and see what else is out there. Have something to look forward to, that doesn’t necessarily have to be traveling.
Additionally, I read you don’t pay rent for anywhere solid and travel for most of the year. How do you find that lifestyle?
I have paid rent every now and then depending on where I am and for how long I’ll be staying. but yeah it can be tricky at times. It just means you don’t have a lot of downtime and I feel like thats important from time to time.
Have you found yourself in any sticky situations?
Life is sticky, just gotta try and find your way out.
Since you are such a travelling man, how did you cope through covid etc? How are you finding it now we are getting out of it all?
I’ve still been trying to do as much as I possibly can, but covid has definitely made it a lot harder with all the mandatory hurdles you have to jump to get to a place now!
What is your favourite country to skate and why?
Everywhere is so different architecturally and culturally so it makes it difficult to say.
Skating and sponsors
You’ve been on Etnies for as long as I remember, how long have you been on the team?
Wow I’ve never thought about it but I’m going to say 14 years or so, it’s got to be.
How did Sour come about? Were you on Sweet before for a short while?
Everyone from Sweet quit and then Bjorn the team manager started ‘Sour’ so we all ended up jumping ship.
How come Enjoi didn’t work out?
I guess the fit wasn’t right, but I’m happy that it never worked out in the long run.
I used to see you skate MK when I was a little grom every now and then. The Motive dudes were like gods to me back then, basically still are now, especially Rob. Do you still talk to those guys anymore?
I haven’t actually spoken to a lot of those guys in some years now. Losing contact isn’t the best but sometimes it happens. Maybe it’s time to get in touch!
When was the last time you skated MK?
Couldn’t tell you.
I read you passed your driver’s license and went straight into driving a Sprinter you made into an adventure wagon over lockdown. How did that go? Did you get to go on the adventure in the end?
I was planning a trip around europe but then covid unfortunately hit, leaving me stuck in the UK. I still went ahead with the conversion and did a couple trips to the Cornish coast and up to Scotland. Still living in the unknown with travel restrictions I ended up selling her on recently.
Your latest cover on Free Skate Mag was one of the best photos I’ve seen in a very long time. Could you talk us through that?
I’m not sure on the cover you’re talking about? If you are referring to the noselide pop it was a content photo that everyone assumed was a cover, haha.
Have you got any plans for 2022 you can tell us about?
I’m still trying to work my way into that 🙂