Skateboarders remember hometown hero Ben Raemers
PUBLISHED: 20:08 01 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:59 02 June 2019
The Ipswich skateboarding community has come together to celebrate the life of an international star described as a 'hero'.
Friends of Ben Raemers, 28, who was born in Essex, but lived in Ipswich for many years, unveiled a mural in his memory and are hoping to start an open conversation about men's mental health.
Ben died in May and since his death tributes have been flooding in from across the skateboarding world ahead of his funeral on Monday, June 3.
Described by friends as fearless, international eyes were set on Ben from as young as 14 when he pulled of a 540-spin in front of a crowd of more than 1,000. At the same age, he was sponsored by world-famous streetwear brand Volcom.
His rise to fame seemed unstoppable as he made his way to Los Angeles to skate for the iconic skate companies Enjoi and éS footwear professional teams. He was later sponsored by Converse shoes and Independent Trucks.
Lee Blackwell, from Ipswich, discovered Ben's talent with his friends Mark Munson and Carl Wilson, at a small skate park in Essex when he was just nine years old. They watched him go on to become "one of the best skateboarders in the world."
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Speaking about the memorial, Lee said: "We just wanted to do something to show how much we love him, he's been such a big influence on skateboarding in Ipswich.
"There are lot of memorial paintings for Ben popping up at skate parks across the UK trying to raise awareness of men's mental health. We need to talk about this more."
One local skateboarder said: "I watched Ben grow. We would see him come down to the skate park and he just grew into this pro skateboarder who got to travel the world.
"A lot of the skaters looked up to him. Two people I spoke to yesterday at the skate park said he was their hero and they both had tributes to him on the bottom of their skateboards. He made a real impact."
The artwork, which has been funded by skateboarders in Ipswich, has been designed by Jon Horner. After unveiling the work, the local community joined for a skateboarding session from 4pm followed by 'Beers for Ben'.
The community has also continued to pay tribute to fellow skateboarder and friend to Ben, James Mills, who was found dead in June 2017.
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