Amazing

By Chrissie Byrne and Tui Benjamin

An OAP rollerblader who was kicked out of a town centre for dangerous skating has defied the authorities to get back on his skates – just six weeks after a major hip op.

Rollerblade renegade Geoff Dornan, 79, was hauled before the courts in 2009 over accusations he was a hazard to pedestrians in Southport town centre – and was found guilty by magistrates of breaching local bylaws and billed more than £2,000.

But the pensioner, who took up the adrenaline-fuelled sport aged 60 when he was told to start exercising, has defied naysayers and still skates for 12 hours a week in Liverpool city centre.

The defiant grandad-of-one, nicknamed ‘Quicksilver’ for his bladed antics, was spotted skating in the city’s Liverpool One shopping centre this week – before allegedly being stopped from busking, something he plans to appeal.

Retired youth worker and dad-of-three Geoff, from Ormskirk, said: “Skating is itself intrinsically enjoyable. There’s something about skating – it’s like you have a pair of wings. You can move in ways you were not born to be able to move.

“My skating does attract a lot of attention, but why wouldn’t you do it? It’s convenient for me as I can go wherever I want on my rollerblades and don’t need to use my car at all – it’s a great way of getting around.

“I love skating and it is brilliant exercise, but I never expected to be vilified and made a criminal by bureaucrats for it.

“People say I’m an accident waiting to happen but I’ve been waiting 20 years now and an accident hasn’t happened yet.

PIC BY LAURA SHEPHERD/MERCURY PRESS

“I’m going to persist with my skating because I haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve been skating for two decades and I’ve never bumped into anyone.

“When I was first taken to court for skating in Ormskirk I was more naïve but they can’t actually ban me because there are by-laws allowing skating – so now I just won’t accept it.

“It’s down to the authorities to prove it’s dangerous. You could say it’s dangerous to wear high heels – I’m not harming anybody.”

Geoff first began skating aged 60 after the former couch potato was told he needed to start exercising.

He first took up power walking but after making the decision to buy a pair of rollerblades in 1997 he has never looked back – now skating in Liverpool city centre for 26 hours each month.

But Geoff’s skating dreams were nearly put on ice last August when he took a tumble while blading in the city centre when another rollerskater crashed into hip and broke his hip.

Amazingly, when doctors operated on Geoff they found his bones were in such good condition from the exercise he didn’t need a hip replacement and he was back skating just six weeks later.

Divorcee Geoff said: “My daughter told me I needed to exercise and told me to start power walking.

“I didn’t know what it was, but it turns out it is walking fast and wiggling your bum about – it was boring, so I took up skating instead.

PIC BY LAURA SHEPHERD/MERCURY PRESS

“When I broke my hip and the doctors cut me open they couldn’t believe my bones were in such good condition, I didn’t even need a hip replacement.”

Last weekend Geoff was filmed tearing up the tarmac outside Liverpool One shopping centre by events manager Eve Howlett, 24.

But he claims he was later told to leave by Liverpool One staff because he did not have the correct permit to be busking in the area – something he now plans to appeal.

Eve, from Liverpool, said: “It was funny, people were stopping in the street and smiling.

“I personally was having a really bad day and I saw him and felt really inspired to do anything afterwards.

‘It was really uplifting and he was skating in front of people and waving at people. It was great to see.”

Chris Bliss, estate director at Liverpool ONE, said: “Here at Liverpool ONE we love to enliven our streets and park area and have a varied entertainment programme throughout the year for all of our visitors to participate in.

PIC BY LAURA SHEPHERD/MERCURY PRESS

“We also have a responsibility to ensure these events are safely enjoyed by everyone.

“As our streets cross through the city centre, it’s not within our remit, nor would we wish to stop anyone skating or rollerblading through Liverpool ONE.

“In this gentleman’s case, he has requested permission to busk but is yet to adequately demonstrate the suitability of this event for a retail and leisure environment such as Liverpool ONE.

“Everyone at Liverpool ONE hopes he is able to find a suitable location to be able to skate and busk and enjoy his passion to the full.”