SKATEBOARDING prodigy Ben Raemers enjoyed a rapid rise to success at an early age.

Originally from Walton, the youngster first jumped on a board at the age of ten and his natural talent was quickly recognised.

At the tender age of 14, he was sponsored by world-renowned street wear brand Volcom.

He made his way to Los Angeles to skate for skate companies Enjoi and eS footwear, and was later sponsored by Converse and Independent Trucks.

Although he was well known for his positive outlook, he battled his own personal demons.

He took his own life in May at the age of 28.

Close friend Carl Harling, 29, last saw Ben around Christmas last year. He said he had not noticed any outward signs of what was to come.

“I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with him in Ipswich at his sister’s place,” he said.

“Went for a few drinks on Christmas Eve and I spoke to him about how he was.

“He was, like me at this point in life, struggling with what’s next.

“We talked about what we are doing and what is the next step.”

Carl first met Ben between the age of 14 and 15 when the pair would visit Ipswich Skate Park.

“Put simply he was just a good dude,” he said.

He was really friendly and he was an amazing skateboarder, but he would always be really into whatever you were doing

“Even if you were attempting something really minor and it was a struggle for you, he would still give you props or encourage you.

“He was a really nice person who never had a bad word to say about anyone.

“He did always have a nice perspective on life as well.”

Ben’s great attitude and remarkable talent made him a hero to many at skateparks across the UK.

It is not common for British skaters to find commercial success with large American brands.

Ben’s death left Carl stunned.

“I found out on social media, the way things move so quickly it was very hard to keep things personal,” he said.

“It was quite a difficult way to find out.

“I was completely blown out of the water.

If you lose somebody through any sort of death it is hard, but with suicide it is also hard to know they were in such a horrible place they decided they couldn’t go on. You ask yourself whether there is more you could have done.

“People say it is his decision and further down the line I understand that – people who are going through this kind of thing – time will help you to find perspective on it.

“With mental health in general I would say the pressure of things like social media is a factor.

“Everyone gets the perception other people’s lives are incredible, while your life doesn’t mean as much, as we see it through this filter.”

Carl has now begun a mammoth bicycle ride from Vancouver to San Francisco to remember Ben.

He will stop at as many different skate parks as he can, performing a shralp – a simple grind trick – at each one.

“It is a simple thing, but when I am doing it it’s quite meditative,” he said.

“All I am thinking about is what I am doing. If I am in a stressful place I am not thinking about that – it is about trying to find that feeling.

“It is a way to make me feel very content about someone I loved.

Everyone has something that makes them feel content, if you can do that for someone you loved it can help to make sense of things. It has been a way to focus my thoughts.

Money raised through Carl’s Shralp For Ben will be donated to The Ben Raemers Foundation, a charity set to be formed by Ben’s family.

Carl has set a target of £5,000 and anyone wanting to donate, can do so via

Carl also hopes to raise awareness of mental health along the way and try to get people talking and thinking about their own mental health as well as how they can help others.

  • Anyone suffering from suicidal feelings can call the Samaritans for support on 116 123 or Campaign Against Living Miserably, a movement against male suicide on 0800 585858.