Other News

WET and windy weather could did not stop the annual Woking Shopmobility pancake race from taking centre stage in Jubilee Square this week, writes Stuart Flitton.

The annual fundraising event for the charity that hires out mobility scooters, powered and manual wheelchairs in the town centre is expected to raise £1,500.

The York Road Project team.

Many of the participants wore pink, in memory of Shopmobility vice-chairman Ray Humphreys, who died of cancer just after Christmas.

Despite the rain, 16 teams of four took up their frying pans for the dash across the square.

Thanks to the non-slip surface in Jubilee Square, there were no falls and a reasonable number of spectators gathered under umbrellas and in waterproof jackets to see this most English of events.

Like all great sporting events, there was some “controversy”. Woking Security was in line to win first prize for the fourth year in a row but fell foul of the strict rules.

The relay race requires each runner to toss the pancake at least three times, but also to touch a line on each leg of their run.

“They didn’t quite touch the line and so were knocked down to second place,” said Shopmobility administration officer Paula Garners. “Its very competitive,” Paula added, with a smile. “They took the decision on the chin.”

See 15th February 2018 issue for full report

SCREEN 6 at Woking’s Ambassadors cinema was packed on Saturday and Monday evenings for a special showing of a film which depicts a Chobham business taken back to the 1960s.

The owners of the Leonard Daborn garage and car salesroom had hired the auditorium and invited 150 family members, friends and their staff to see The Mercy, which stars Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz.

The audience saw the Station Road premises transformed by a props crew and used as a set for several scenes in the just-released film, which was made over the summer of 2015.

The co-owners of Leonard Daborn, David and Jane Atkins, with a poster showing the stars of The Mercy at The Ambassadors.

“We thought it would be good to hire the cinema screen so that our family and people we know could see the results of the huge efforts the film company went to at the garage,” said co-owner David Atkins.

“They were here for two weeks to create the scenery and do the filming and our car park was packed with their vehicles,” added David, who can be glimpsed in the background in one of the internal shots.

The Mercy tells the ill-fated story of Donald Crowhurst, played by Firth, who entered a 1968 round-the-world solo yacht race in an unfinished boat. His main sponsor was a businessman known as the Caravan King, whose office was set up in the Daborns building.

A £3 million facelift means Squire’s Garden Centre in Woking is looking blooming marvellous, ready for its grand reopening.

Artist’s impression of the exterior at Squire’s

Gardening guru Charlie Dimmock will host the official launch of the new-look garden centre on Saturday 17 March. The green-fingered star, who rose to fame on the BBC’s Ground Force programme and now presents Garden Rescue, will be in Woking for a day of activities, answering garden-related questions and demonstrating planting methods with a Spring Container Workshop.

The Littlewick Road centre has been closed since June for development work, which has created a plant area complete with outdoor canopy, a much bigger shop and extended the Café Bar. The café will have a full waiting service, plus live music from a classical guitarist between 12.30pm-2.30pm every Sunday in March.

The investment sees Squire’s doubling their staff, with 62 now employed versus 30 employees last year.

See 8th February 2018 issue for full report

A BOROUGH councillor is feeling on top of the world having conquered Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.

Byfleet and West Byfleet ward councillor Amanda Boote has so far raised more than £4,000 after her epic adventure conquering Africa’s highest mountain.

The summit of Kilimanjaro, named Uhuru Peak, stands at 5,895m or 19,341 feet, making it the world’s tallest free standing mountain.

Amanda undertook the climb as a 50th birthday challenge and tackled the Machame – the most difficult route – in just four days. The descent took just two days

“It has been the biggest challenge of my life so far’’, said Amanda, who is raising money for Shooting Star Chase children’s hospice in Surrey.

She added: “It was a magical feeling to be at the top and to be on the ‘roof of Africa’.

“It was very cold at the top of the mountain and it had the most snow that it’s seen for 15 years and was a magical experience.

“We reached the summit on New Year’s Day and the view across Africa was simply stunning.

“The altitude does make you feel sick, dizzy and it affects your memory, as you have only 50% of the oxygen at the top that you have at sea level – for me it made me lose my appetite and it made me unable to sleep much.

“It was so nice to sleep when we descended to the new camp and the best bit was having a shower when we finally made it back to Moshi (in Tanzania) as we hadn’t showered for six days!’’
Amanda, an Independent councillor, of High Road, West Byfleet, covered all the costs herself, so any donations go directly to the charity

She added: “I would like to thank everyone who has already made and generous donation.

“If there are still some wellwishers who would like to help, they can visit my JustGiving page.’’

The Shooting Star Chase children’s hospice cares for babies, children and young people with life limiting conditions, and their families.

Amanda concluded: “For me, these children are the real heroes. I am a huge fan of the work that the hospice does, including creating precious moments to remember.’’

If you would like to make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/amanda-boote2

THE congregation at St Dunstan’s Catholic Church in Woking is mourning the loss of its parish priest, the Rev Canon Francis (Frank) Harrington.

Father Harrington, known by most people as Father Frank, died at his home in the town on Thursday last week, aged 74.

He had been parish priest of St Dunstan’s for more than 24 years and had worked in a number of parishes in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton since his ordination in 1968.

The man who preferred to be called just “Frank” was a big man in many respects, said a parish spokesman. “He was big not just physically but also spiritually and intellectually, and with a wonderful sense of humour,” he added.

“He was a man of great faith, wisdom and spirituality; a true father figure to the parishioners of St Dunstan’s and much loved.”

Parishioner Chris Trevor-Wilson said: “Fr Frank was a wonderful priest, much loved and highly respected, He had a powerful, bass voice with a strong Irish accent and an engaging, dry sense of humour.

“He and Fr Peter made the ideal team, contrasting styles but they complemented each other perfectly. A massive loss.”

Fr Harrington was born in the village of Eyeries on the Beara peninsula in County Cork, Ireland in 1943. He trained for the priesthood at All Hallows College, Dublin and came to England after his ordination.

THE enormously popular Woking Community Transport service is in danger of having to drastically reduce some of its services by a possible change in the interpretation of the law.

WCT runs more than 12,000 journeys a month, which includes the Dial-a-Ride service, for around 2,600 residents of the borough. Known mostly for the distinctive yellow or silver Bustler vehicles, it is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1991 that provides door-to-door transport for people who experience pain or discomfort when travelling on mainstream public transport due to age or disability. The majority of WCT’s minibuses are fully accessible, with either a passenger lift or ramps leading to wide doors and seats that can be removed to accommodate wheelchairs.

Woking MP Jonathan Lord, second left, with one of the Bustler minibuses. He and Cllr John Kingsbury, second right, were given a presentation on the Woking Community Transport service by chief executive Guy Padfield-Wilkins, far left, and general manager Stephen Morris
Picture by Tony Charters

Community transport, as well as schools, churches and other not-for-profit organisations are able to run minibuses without a full public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence through permits issued under the Transport Act 1985.

However, under pressure from commercial bus operators, the Department for Transport is considering scrapping the permits. The House of Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC) published a report in December after taking written submissions from interested parties and a full DfT consultation on possible changes is expected to start by the end of this month.

The WCT believes that if the permits are scrapped and it is forced to obtain a PSV operators licence, many of its drivers would leave because they would have to undertake further training, including obtaining a full D1 driving licence. WCT already provides all its drivers with Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme training (MiDAS), first aid training, and completes full enhanced DBS checks on all staff.  All vehicles are maintained to the highest standards and undergo safety inspections every ten weeks.

Moving to an OSV operator’s licence would not only restrict which services WCT could run, but would also push up the running costs across the board and put pressure on the funding it gets, mostly from Woking Borough Council.

See 1st February 2018 issue for the full report. 

WOKING Community Transport is hoping to become the first service of its kind in the country to operate zero-emission, electrically powered mini buses.

WCT, which is best known for its Bustler Dial-a-Ride service with its distinctive yellow minibuses, wants to buy up to three Orion E vehicles from Mellor Coachcraft in Rochdale. It already has diesel equivalent of the Orion.

However the Orion E costs about £150,000, which is double that of the diesel minibus. The Orion range is designed for community transport services which seats that can be easily removed to accommodate wheelchairs and is fully accessible with ramps at the wide side door and the rear doors.

Jonathan Lord MP gets the lowdown on the latest ne addition to the Bustler Fleet from Guy Padfield-Wilkins, Chief Executive and Managing Director, WCT

WCT, based at the Moorcroft Centre in Old School Place, is pinning its hopes on a £1 million fund from the Department for Transport for electric vehicles. At the moment the money is for buses, but WCT is hoping that the definition can be extended to include minibuses.

The plan has the backing of Woking MP Jonathan Lord, who attended a presentation at Moorcroft that included the plan to buy the electrically powered vehicles.

Mr Lord said after the presentation: “I completely understand the arguments that Woking Community Transport is making about the need for zero emission minibuses that are affordable.

“I will make these points strongly to Government Ministers to see if the government subsidies currently available on large buses can also be made available for smaller buses.”

WCT chief executive Guy Padfield-Wilkins said that as the minibuses operate only during the day, the electric vehicles could be recharged from a domestic 13amp socket overnight. The vehicles have a range of nearly 100 miles. Mr Padfield-Wilkins said the infrastructure costs would be minimal and that the cost benefit would take around seven years after the initial outlay. Not only was there saving on fuel, but the servicing costs of electric vehicles is considerably less than that for diesel ones.

“If we were able to buy three, then we could operate a shuttle service with a reserve vehicle,” he said.

Dial-a-Ride is open to anyone who experience pain or difficulties using public transport. It is free to join but there is a small charge for the service, which operates door-to-door. The fares are about a third of the true cost, because it is funded mostly by Woking Borough Council with contributions from Surrey County Council and various contracts.

The drivers help passengers from their front door on to the minibus, making sure they have their keys and all the possessions they are intending to take. They will make sure the passengers reach their destinations safely before driving on.

The drivers are a combination of employees and volunteers.

A TROPICAL exhibition with more than 50 varieties of butterflies from across the world is providing the perfect warming escape from winter for visitors to RHS Wisley.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Butterflies in The Glasshouse exhibition is now officially open to the public until 4 March after an exclusive preview held last Friday.

Sophie and Abbie Whyte have their faces painted

Butterflies on display come from areas such as the Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Thailand and Cuba. Species include the Kallima inachus (Orange Oakleaf) and Siproeta stelene (Malachite), alongside new species for 2018 such as the Graphium doson (Common Jay) and Papilio paris (Paris Peacock).

They inhabit the Tropical Zone of the Glasshouse, showcasing their magnificent colours, patterns and form amongst lush-tropical plantings, as well as aquatic plants that thrive in the warm jungle pool.

Emma Allen, garden manager at RHS Wisley, added: “The Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley is the ideal place to visit during winter as we are bringing a tropical experience to you here in Surrey.

“Breath-taking species, native to areas from around the world, have been carefully selected for our Tropical Zone, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to experience these amazing butterflies up close.

“Bring along a camera and see which ones you can find as you wander through our piece of tropical paradise.”

The exhibit at Wisley is being sponsored by retirement home builders McCarthy and Stone.

The event is free to RHS members and a family guest. Non-members can save 10% by booking online in advance. For more information about the exhibit, visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/whats-on/butterflies-in-the-glasshouse.

The exhibition will run until 4 March.

WOKING & Sam Beare Hospice has paid tribute to its fundraising “heroes’’ following a string of donations.

The latest so-called Hospice Heroes to gain a mention have raised thousands of pounds for the charity which provides free specialist palliative care to adults of all ages with life-limiting and terminal illnesses

Accountants Menzies presented a cheque for £1,000. Pictured, from left, are: Mark Crosson, Menzies, Stephanie Ward, Menzies, Phil Wormley, Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, De Joseph and Jamie Rowe, Menzies

A hospice spokesman said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to all our supporters, we can only continue to provide this care with a huge amount of local support, You are all our Hospice Hero’s.

Recent donations include:

  • £12,000 from Clarity, who funded equipment in one of the in-patient rooms
  • £5,000 from Green Oak Housing Association
  • £2,000 from Ann Goodison, who made and sold jewellery and candles
  • £1,000 from accountants Menzies LLP, Woking, who held various office events
  • £1,761 from volunteers who wrapped Christmas presents at Woking Shopping Centre
  • £1,584 from support services provider ISS, who raffled three Christmas cakes
  • £270 from 1st Brookwood Scout Group, who went carol singing at Brookwood Station

Phil Wormley, hospice director of fundraising, said: “We are hugely grateful to receive these kind and generous donations.

“As a charity we are hugely reliant on such voluntary donations in order to continue to provide an invaluable service to the communities we serve across Surrey.’’

If you would like to become a Hospice Hero or find out more, visit www.wsbhospices.co.uk

PUTTING your savings to work in an ethical alternative to High Street banks can make a real difference to local lives, says Boom Credit Union.

Based in Sheerwater, the local credit union for Surrey is highlighting that more than 40 per cent of young people turn to payday lenders for high interest loans ranging from 440% to more than 1000% APR. It’s calling on local people to help get thousands out of debt and avoid the clutches of loan sharks and exploitative credit lenders.

“You might ask why do people borrow what they can’t afford to pay back? Unfortunately life for some people isn’t that simple. The washing machine suddenly breaks, or the car needs urgent repairs, and then payday loans and other high interest lenders seem an attractive proposition at a time when they are desperate for money,” said Catherine Illingworth from the credit union’s Business Growth team.

Catherine Illingworth of Boom Credit Union

Personal debt is now said to be at a 10-year high, with one in six adults admitting to financial worries. January can be a bleak month financially – whether it’s increased rail fares or the arrival of credit card bills laden with festive spending, many are feeling the pinch. For some, it can be too much. This is why Boom Credit Union wants to help more people get access to an ethical bank account and a cheaper fairer loan.

The not-for-profit organisation has the support of Woking Borough Council, who awarded it £12,400 as part of the latest Community Grants Scheme, and has provided rent free accommodation for the office in Dartmouth Avenue for several years.

“They provide a source of affordable loans to those residents who may have difficulty in accessing them or would otherwise be obliged to use high cost finance from payday lenders and or other high interest lenders,” said Cllr Ayesha Azad, portfolio holder for grants to voluntary and community organisations.

“In addition they also help residents to save and play an important role in advising residents responsibly, thus serving a huge community benefit.”

Boom has seen a significant increase in demand, a 120% increase in ethical loans for the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period for 2016. But without the support of the public and local businesses in terms of new savings invested, they will have to stop lending.

“It is brilliant that more people are learning about Boom. However, without savings from residents or from local business looking for an ethical investment, we will not be able to continue the good work in our communities,” said Mrs Illingworth.

“We are a not-for-profit organisation and the public can be confident that their savings will make a difference and are protected by the Financial Services compensation scheme like any bank.”

The credit union was able to arrange a £4,000 load for a Woking student nurse so she could pay off high interest debts:  “We saved her £20 a month on her monthly payments and lots more in interest and bank charges.”

In another case study, a woman from Woking was loaned £3,200 to pay off existing high interest debts, and for a contribution towards her daughter’s wedding. She now has one payment to Boom, saving her £95 per month in overdraft charges and expensive catalogue repayments. In addition, thanks to Boom’s policy of getting people to save alongside loans, at the end of her loan period she will have built up a savings pot of £840.

To find out more about saving with the credit union, visit www.boomcu.com or call 01483 917958.