Other News

THE derelict Rat and Parrot pub in Woking town centre could be replaced with a 12-storey block of flats targeted at commuters and first-time buyers.

Its owners have applied for permission to demolish the building in Chertsey Road and build a tower of 68 homes on the site.

The Rat and Parrot closed in 2009, after failing to compete successfully with the popular Wetherspoons pub on the other side of the road and other drinking establishments in the road.

The increasingly scruffy pub has long been boarded up, with nearby business owners complaining that it makes that end of town unattractive to shoppers.

The owners of the single-storey building, London-based investors Mike Watkins and Richard Lewczynski, say they want to provide homes in the town to avoid using Green Belt land for housing.

Mr Watkins told the News & Mail: “We have owned the building for some years and have tried to interest nearly every retailer who advertises in the Estates Gazette to take it on, but no-one is interested. No-one wants to set up in that part of Woking.”

The design statement to Woking Borough Council says: “The site is close to all the town centre services. It is just three minutes walk from Woking station, and with frequent express trains into Waterloo you can be in central London within half an hour.

It adds: “We believe the proposed development to be a catalyst for the regeneration of the eastern side of the town centre.”

The planning application is for 50 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and two three bedroom flats in a 12-storey block, with associated landscaping and parking areas.

It follows permission being granted last December for the under-used Elizabeth House and Cornerstone office blocks in nearby Duke Street to be converted to 158 flats.

The Rat and Parrot building was one of the originally “pile it high, sell it cheap Tesco supermarkets in the early 1970s. It was a furniture store before being converted to a pub.

IDENTICAL twins Charlie and Harry Warburton-Gates may be only six months old but they have landed a part in a West End play.

The little boys from New Haw are appearing in a new production, The Ferryman, at The Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

The play – by Jez Butterworth, starring Paddy Considine and directed by the renowned Sam Mendes – requires two babies to be available each night, one on stage and one as a back-up.

Mum Lara Gates put them up for the part after hearing about the opportunity through her sister-in-law, whose two-year-old daughter is registered with an acting agency.

Charlie and Harry were snapped up at separate auditions, after the producers saw their photographs. It’s hard to tell the difference between, so they make the perfect team, able to be switched mid-performance if one gets grumpy.

“It’s been a really interesting experience”, said mum Lara Gates, who lives in New Haw with the twins’ dad, Chris Warburton, and their two-year-old brother, Edward. “It’s a pity in a way that they won’t remember any of it as they grow up.”

Lara gates with twins Charlie and Harry and their brother, Edward

The twins have proud grandparents who live in West Byfleet, Peter and Fran Holdsworth.

“They are very placid little boys and not thrown by the by the noise or the lights on stage,” said Peter. “One scene starts off with them on stage on their own in the dark and they are not worried by that at all.”

The Ferryman is set in Northern Ireland in the 1981, during the Troubles. Paddy Considine plays a farmer who has six children including the baby, and the cast of more than 20 also includes a live goose.

The farmer’s harvest celebrations are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger and the fate of a missing man triggers the action, which revolves around how the IRA controlled people’s lives.

Charlie and Harry each appear on stage about twice a week. “They enjoy all the attention and the cast make such a fuss of them,” said Lara. “It’s not too many children who will have a West End appearance on their CV before their first birthday.”

However, the boys’ first taste of the limelight is finite. Once they start to crawl – and perhaps resist staying in one place for their scenes – they will be replaced by a new pair of lookalikes.

DISABLED adults were left dismayed when vandals destroyed and stole their gaily decorated work put up in Woking Park for everyone to enjoy.

Residents at The Grange, a charity at Bookham, had been busy knitting for a “yarn-bombing” project at the Party in the Park event last month.

But vandals destroyed the colourful creations after knitting was left on site in the park on trees, a bench and a bridge sometime after July 8.

“It is so sad. The work had been on display for everyone to enjoy,” said tutor support staff member Tina Williams.

“We told some of our residents what had happened and it really did sadden them all. They were quite disappointed’’

Yarn-bombing involves knitting and placing the finished creations in public places for all to enjoy.

On this occasion, residents followed the Party in the Park theme of the 60s and 70s to create woolly works including a depiction of famous model Twiggy.

Usually, the work would be collected up and displayed at fresh venues at a later date. In the past residents have created work for The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking and the G Live entertainment centre in Guildford.

The Grange provides support and residential care for people with disabilities from across Surrey. Staff  teach a range of arts and crafts skills on site.

Tina concluded: “We remain undeterred by what has happened and will carry on knitting for our next project.”

AN AMAZING collection of statues is turning the heads of shoppers and commuters in Woking.

One depicts the image of a larger-than-life modern-day woman the near entrance to the Peacocks shopping centre.

Another is of a dishevelled-looking man sitting on a bench at Woking station. The powerful figure of “The Wanderer” will greet passengers as they leave the station and walk towards the town centre.

Both works, and others around the town, are the brainchild of Woking-born artist Sean Henry, who has created a sculpture trail which leads to The Lightbox gallery and museum.

The Lightbox is celebrating its 10th anniversary and to mark the occasion the major summer exhibition will be a display of the thought-provoking artworks.

The exhibition showcases striking artworks made over the last 15 years which will be exhibited both at the gallery and, for the first time in the history of The Lightbox, in prominent outdoor locations across the town centre.

In the Main Gallery, more than 20 sculptures will be complimented by a selection of new drawings, which have never before been on public show.

Sean Henry’s sculptures are figurative and highly realistic. His figures, often anonymous men and women, have a strong physicality which invites the viewer to draw their own interpretations when they come ‘face to face’ with the artworks.

Henry uses aspects of size, scale and colour to surprise the viewer and create a sense of theatricality which imbues the figures with a powerful presence.

Face to Face: The Figurative Sculpture of Sean Henry will be on show at The Lightbox, from the Saturday 12 August to Sunday 5 November.

ATTENDANCE numbers were up on last year as the sun shone down on 4,000 supporters at the Pyford and Wisley Flower Show.

All the hard word and efforts of the committee and volunteers produced yet another wonderful event celebrating the 70th anniversary show, which had the theme of “All the Fun of the Fair”.

The day began with a procession through the village led by the Surrey Pipe Band followed by the Flower Princess and her three attendants together with the Mayor of Woking Graham Cundy, who opened the show , local youth groups, the Chobham Morris dancers and a land train full of pre-school children in their fancy dress joined the fun.

Pyrford Flower Show

Throughout the day the crowds watched displays by pipe band, children from Pyrford C of E Primary School, the morris dancers and the ever-popular Darwin’s Kingdom with their exotic animals. Everyone was able to enjoy the many and varied stalls and amusements and food stalls

Over 2,200 entries were made by bakers, gardeners, photographers , handcrafters, and the children of the village  with everyone entering their best pieces . The prizes and trophies were presented by the Deputy Mayor Councillor Will Forster.

The day ended with an after show party in the marquee with “An Evening of Soul “provided by Blues Patrol. The £5,000 profits from the show will as always be presented to local charities and organisations later this year.

The Flower Princess was Larissa Johnston, and her attendants were Leala Brown, Maddie Cuckow and Betsy Carmichael.

Chairman of the organising committee, Andy Grimshaw, said: “We couldn’t have done it without the backing of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers and helpers.”

A YOUNG stroke survivor from Woking is preparing to take on a Superhero triathlon next month to raise vital funds for the Stroke Association.

Trainee paramedic Lauren Bradfield, 24, had a stroke in 2012, at the age of just 20. She was left paralysed down the left side of her body, and was told by doctors that she might never walk again.

Lauren said: “Having a stroke is terrifying. I didn’t know what the future held for me. But almost a year after my stroke, I ran 10k for the Stroke Association, I was playing hockey again, and I was able to get back to horse riding. All the things I thought I would never be able to do again were possible.”

Lauren will be tackling the Superhero Tri on 19 August, an event which was created by British Paralympian, Sophia Warner. The Superhero Tri has more than 20 celebrity team captains, from Paralympians to TV personalities.

Lauren will join powerlifting Paralympic silver medalist Ali Jawad’s team. Lauren, Ali and another teammate will share the 150 metre swim, three kilometre cycle and one kilometre run.

Lauren added: “I have achieved a lot in my life despite having a stroke when I was only 20, and since being diagnosed with a chronic rare autoimmune disease. Each day brings its own struggles, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to challenge myself constantly.

“I’ve recently started to use a manual wheelchair when I am really tired but I am not going to let anything stop me achieving my dreams. This is a perfect opportunity to prove to myself and others that having a disability makes you no different from anyone else.

“I feel really excited to be chosen as part of a celebrity team. I have always wanted to take part in a triathlon and to do that with a celebrity makes it even more exciting.

“I’ve chosen to do the swim, which will be a big challenge on the day, but I’m making sure I squeeze in lots of training.”

Becky Beard, the Stroke Association’s community and events fundraising manager, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Lauren for taking on this grueling challenge; she is a real inspiration and proof that there is life after stroke.”

To sponsor Lauren, visit www.justgiving.com/laurenbradfieldstroke.

BROOKLANDS Concorde operations manager Jenny Tye is walking on air after raising almost £2,000 – £500 over her target by taking part in a sponsored wing walk.

She was one of a group of brave volunteers who took part in a recent Breitling Wingwalkers fund-raising event at Rendcomb Aerodrome, near Cirencester. So far the event has raised a total of £20,000 for the Aerobility charity.

“I’m an adrenaline junkie and to be given the opportunity to tick off item number one on my bucket list, and stand on the top of a Boeing Stearman biplane at speeds of 140mph, was a dream come true,” says Jenny.

The wingwalkers performed breathtaking acrobatic manoeuvres and handstands while strapped to the aircraft. The team pilots flew the aircraft through an energetic routine of dazzling aerobatics and close formation flypasts as the wingwalkers waved at the crowd.

Manoeuvres include, loops, rolls, stall turns and inverted flight. The wingwalkers experienced speeds of up to 150 mph and up to 4G.

“I have been involved with Aerobility via another charity called the Air League for several years,” says Jenny. “I actually applied to be a wingwalker back in 2012 and was offered the job, but I had to turn it down when a planned knee surgery was unexpectedly brought forward.”

“To do this in aid of a charity dear to my heart, Aerobility, made this opportunity even more incredible. The experience was everything I could dream of and more, and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she added.

Aerobility offers disabled and profoundly ill people the opportunity of turning the dream of flying into an exhilarating reality.

FOR local crime writer Tom Templeman the case had all the twists and turns of one of his own novels.

First there was the discovery one morning in his garden of a hungry and desperate fugitive.

And there were false trails and dead ends before the escapee’s family and friends could be tracked down by 95-year-old Tom and his team of detectives.

Only by ingenuity, dogged refusal to abandon the search, and the use of cutting edge Internet technology was the mystery finally solved. It was the curious case of the three tortoises.

“Brenda, our daughter-in-law, was visiting when she spotted an unfamiliar visitor in our garden – a tortoise, Tom told the News & Mail. However, this was no common tortoise. It was in fact an Afghan tortoise (Testudo Horsfieldii), more commonly known in this country as a Horsefield tortoise. And it was a long way from home.

“It was remarkably quick on its feet,” added Tom. “We put up a notice by our drive entrance: Found, a tortoise. Apply within.”

Tom’s neighbour, Caroline Cooper, also posted about the find on Facebook and after a flurry of exchanges, there were, remarkably, three claimants for a missing tortoise. “One was from Knaphill and had been lost for over a week. This was quickly eliminated. A second claimant was also unsuccessful”.

More Facebook enquiries led to the owner’s unmasking – eight-year old Lilley Evans from Gosport, more than 40 miles away. But how could a tortoise, even the fastest tortoise in the South, have travelled more 40 miles in less than a couple of days?

The explanation was that Emily and her mum Lilley brought the tortoise – named Steve McQueen because he was so fast and liked escaping – with them when they drove up to visit Lilley’s grandmother, Tracy, a couple of days earlier. Tracey just happened to live near Tom.

“Steve McQueen had escaped from my mum’s garden in Woking shortly before we had to return home to Gosport,” Emily told the News & Mail. “Lilley was heartbroken that we had to leave without him”.

“We looked for him for hours before we actually left and then put up a poster on Facebook. Lilley was over the moon when we discovered where he was.”

The grateful Evans family presented Caroline with a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers, while writer Tom was honoured with a poem written especially for the occasion.

Of the two unsuccessful lost tortoises, one, by the name of Bert, was happily re-united with its owner Lisa Appleby, three weeks after going missing. The fate of the third is, sadly, unknown.

AN 8-year-old pupil from Horsell has helped make history as part of celebrations to mark 100 years of growing at the local allotments.

In September, Horsell Allotment Association reaches its centenary. As part of the celebrations a time capsule has been installed under a newly constructed hut at the allotments in Bullbeggars Lane.

Included in the capsule are

artefacts about the history of the association – and a drawing by Freya Geaney, a year three pupil at Horsell C of E School, looking at how food will be grown in another 100 years.

Ray Blondell who, at 83, is the oldest member of the Horsell Allotments association, holding the lid which he will place on the time capsule. Freya Geaney 8, who won the competition to depict how we would grow our food in 100 years time.

Freya’s work came top after a competition at the school, with the winners from each year group, chosen by school head Jessica Steele and allotment association chairman David Inns, getting a £10 garden voucher – and the overall winner having their drawing put into the time capsule.

Freya was helped on the day by the association’s longest-serving member Ray Blondell, who placed the first spade of earth around the capsule. Both their names will be inscribed on a plaque permanently displayed on the new hut commemorating the event.

Other items to be placed in the time capsule include a copy of the minutes of the meeting on 25 September 1917 that established the association, a list of members and photographs of some of them, a history of the association, maps of both allotment sites, the current rules and the rules as they were in 1970 when the Bullbeggars allotment moved to its present home.

The location and contents of the time capsule have been registered with the International Time Capsule Society in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Chobham Club has become too expensive to keep running.

THE only hope of keeping Chobham Club open is to demolish the building and replace it with smaller premises and some houses, its members have decided.

The clubhouse in Windsor Road, which was built in the 1960s, has become too expensive to run and needs repairs which the organisation cannot afford.

Its committee has applied for planning permission to knock down the building and put up a new clubhouse and eight homes on the site.

“The club is not making enough money to keep the existing building going,” said the treasurer, Sean Moynagh. “The roof alone is leaking in several places and would cost between £50,000 and £100,000 to put right and we don’t have that money.”

Lack of insulation and solid concrete walls mean the heating bills are high, adding to the club’s financial plight. Membership has also fallen in recent years, as lack of money for maintenance has made the building unattractive.

The plan is to build a new clubhouse at the southern end of the site. It would have the feel of a modern “local” pub, with facilities which would attract more people to hire it for parties and public events.

The current main hall and clubroom would be replaced with a function room and bar area, with a kitchen, meeting room and toilets.

There would be two flats above the club area, whose rents would provide financial support for the club operation.

For the northern end of the site, the club has applied to build a terrace of four three-bedroom homes and four detached houses.

The housing would provide the money for the clubhouse rebuild and funds for investment to help keep the club running in the future.

The club committee stresses that it wants to make its premises more suitable for community use and keep the building going as a facility for the village as a whole.

A workingmen’s club was first established on the Windsor Road site in 1926, when a former army hut was donated for such a use. The wooden building was eventually replaced by the current prefabricated building with a felted roof in the 1960s.

Two planning applications for the redevelopment, one for the clubhouse and one for the housing, are now with Surrey Heath Borough Council.