Real Life: Neil’s Story

Backflip at work Photo: Maverick Camps

Backflip at work
Photo: James Streater


Pre Snowboarding and a path of self destruction.
Back in the early 2000’s before I had even heard of snowboarding, I was well on my way down a slippery slope, mixing with gangs and making bad decisions. I had not long left school and walked straight into the gang lifestyle.

My upbringing was good; I come from a loving supportive family who has always been there for me. I went to an average school, I was an average student even left with GCSEs. I loved all sports and was popular amongst my peers.

After I left school something changed, I rebelled against my folks, left home and started on a path to self-destruction. At that time, all that mattered was my friends around me and making money quickly and in any way possible. I had a few jobs back then, I always worked and when I was 18 I landed a job in a nightclub. The owner was as dodgy as they come and I found other ways of making money.

I didn’t have any goals or aspirations, I was just young and stupid and thought I was invincible. Life has a funny way of putting you in your place, lucky for me it was just on time.

After a few years of running havoc in our area, we were out of control, we did what we wanted whenever we wanted and usually by force. Thinking back on it, I am lucky to be here now as there were a quite a few close shaves where I could have lost my life, at times it was that serious. I ended up being arrested and thrown in jail on remand, no court case nothing. One day I was on road (as we called it) and the next I was behind bars looking at a long sentence, for something I didn’t do.

I was let out after a few months but still had a case to answer to and ultimately I could end up being locked up again. One of the many bail conditions I was given by the courts was not to return to the area I lived so I moved (to live with my aunt)

Still destructive but one the ice and not the streets. Photo: Snozone

Still destructive but on the ice and not the streets.
Photo: Snozone


Snozone and finding snowboarding
Moving away from the area turned out to be the game changer for me, I was desperate for work and I must have handed out 200 CVs and didn’t hear anything for weeks and weeks. The only reply I got was from Snozone the local indoor slope. I got to be honest, I was not stoked about being in the cold but luckily I didn’t have to work on the slope. I worked the desk booking customers in and getting their clothing, it was easy work, ok money and it kept me off the streets. In my first week I met some of the best people, no one knew my past or anything about me but they took me as I was. It was less than a week before I had my first snowboard lesson, I think I booked myself onto a one hours lesson to see if I would like it, within a few days I was turning from the top of the hill and trying to get my rental board off the ground, I was hooked. From that moment I rode every day before and after work, I used to eat my lunch in-between runs on the lift, I was loving it; whilst I was snowboarding nothing else mattered.

One day I got a letter in the post informing me I was due in court. What felt like my distant past but in reality it had only been about two years was catching up with me. I was given a short jail sentence and buried that stage of my life forever.

On my return I soon linked up with Chris Chatt, Steve Revell, Tom Elliott, Paul Rennie the Atv crew, those boys took me in fed me snowboard videos and magazines gave me all the kit I needed to get going. I still have the communal Peter Line board in my garage, (yes the one with the diamond in the side wall), snowboarding had changed my life. It wasn’t long before we were filming edits indoors (sugar smacks 1 2) and getting shots in Document Snowboard mag (rip), we bought a van between us and traveled resorts and contests all over Europe. I met 100’s of brilliant people and got to see lots of amazing places.

Lunchtime laps at MK Snozone Photo: Maverick Camps

Lunchtime laps at MK Snozone
Photo: James Streater


These days I am family man, I have a loving girlfriend and kids of my own and I am responsible for the freestyle parks at Snozone MK. We build parks for all abilities and I enjoy watching the progression of the riders that use the park. I want to move more into coaching to help the youngsters to achieve what they want out of the sport.

Snowboarding has kept me on the straight and narrow and I want to share that with the youngsters coming up. When I left school I feel that I went off the rails because I had nothing to focus on, I had no hobbies or any real interests, snowboarding changed that completely for me and for that I am eternally grateful.

There are lots of people I have to thank while I have a chance, Chris O and the TSA family, the guys at Burton UK have always been great to me. Atv Crew all of FBBB the Knox clan, Thom B Lemon and everyone at Snozone. I also want to thank my sponsors; Bataleon snowboards, Switchback bindings, Vans and Snozone

Index Photo: Picture Corner