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Woking News & Mail reader survey goes live

THE Woking News and Mail launched its first survey this week, confident that demand for a local newspaper is stronger than ever.

Woking’s only designated newspaper is offering readers the chance to “have your say”, with automatic entry to win a whole year’s free subscription to the Woking News and Mail as well as £100 worth of Debenham’s vouchers in a prize draw. The survey is also reaching out to retailers and advertisers as key stakeholders.

The survey was compiled by local research consultancy The Halo Works and aims to build the publication’s growing readership with a two-way conversation with residents and businesses in the area. Launched on Monday, the survey takes no morer than five minutes to complete and remains live online until 17 May at http://feedback.thehaloworks.com/survey/selfserve/174e/170311.

Local businessman, Philip Davies who with his brother Jon also owns Knaphill Print, bought the title in 2011 after it was closed by Trinity Mirror in 2010. Since then the small sales and editorial teams, with support from community news contributors, has seen a gradual increase in the publication’s circulation.

News and Mail Managing Director Terry Tidbury says: “We want to know what our readers, retailers and advertisers have to say because we believe that interest in local news is stronger than ever.

“The increased appetite for community news owes a lot to citizen participation in news, but this tends to be rooted in the work of volunteers which can leave titles vulnerable for a variety of reasons. As a local newspaper business we are accountable for our content and its delivery on a number of levels. We see a real future for local news and we’re confident that the results of this survey will help us to enhance our offer.”

“The launch of our Chobham edition has been very popular,” says Editor Stuart Flitton. “It illustrates the fact that people are welcoming the newspaper back as an important source of local news and more importantly a way of linking up to community life. Its why we’ve found that readers really value the work of contributors such Ann Tilbury, who focuses mainly on Horsell community news.”

THREE great music acts have been announced as part of the line-up on the Seymour’s Main Stage for the 2017 Party in the Park.

This year’s event is marking 40 years since Woking band The Jam released their first album In The City and paying tribute to the late Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, who came from Sheerwater.

Partygoers are being invited to get into the groove with a swingin’ 60s and psychedelic 70s theme and enough free entertainment to fill a pair of platform shoes is promised at the event in July.

Zany six-piece band King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys are back by popular demand to open the show.

The band have been on the road for two decades, playing every European country as well as the USA. They have dazzling musicianship, riveting stage performances and also, more than 50 TV appearances and 75 radio broadcasts under their belts.

Also ready to set the soundtrack for the day is the UK’s Number One The Jam tribute band, The Jam’d. They will give an unforgettable, authentic performance with all the energy, passion and style of Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.

Status Quo’s original drummer, John Coghlan, will headline, with his band John Coghlan’s Quo. Their homage to former bandmate Parfitt, who died in December, will take partygoers back in time, recreating an authentic 70’s Quo sound and playing classics including Rockin’ All Over the World!

As well as music on the Seymour’s Main Stage, Party in the Park’s Rockin’ All Over the Park’ offers something for everyone.

This includes Dance Woking gathering an eclectic mix of dance, the fun-packed Children’s Zone, Freedom Leisure’s Sports Zone and shopping in the Chill Out Field. The Ambassador’s Big Screen will also be back, even bigger than film star Audrey Hepburn’s beehive hairdo.

Party in the Park 2017 is on in Woking Park on Saturday 8 July from noon to 9pm. Families are invited to dig out their tie-dye fashions, fire up your flares, flick back their hair and indulge in a day of love, peace and rock ’n’ roll.

For more information about the event visit www.celebratewoking.info/partyinthepark.

A FALKLANDS hero who lost an arm while trying to defuse a bomb will be helping to raise funds in Woking next month for a charity that helps ex-serving and servicing forces personnel in need.

Captain, then Warrant Officer, John Phillips, who lives in Goldsworth Park, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his actions during the conflict, which marks its 35th anniversary this year.

For the past 15 years John has dedicated himself to helping ex-service personnel and now works as a volunteer for the Woking division of the Soldiers, Sailors Airforce Families Association, (SSAFA) having recently retired as a caseworker.

John, who will be taking part in the charity’s fundraising day on 13 May, mans the SSAFA desk at the ex-servicemen and women drop-in centre at Woking Football Club on the 4th Thursday of every month. The next drop-in event will be held next Thursday, 27 April.

During the Falklands War, John and his colleague, Staff Sergeant James Prescott, were called to the frigate HMS Antelope, which had been hit by two 500kg bombs that had not exploded.

After numerous attempts to defuse the bombs, one of them detonated, killing Staff Sergeant Prescott and badly injuring John. After recovering, he continued to serve in the Royal Engineers for eight years, rising to become chief instructor of the Bomb Disposal School.

John is originally from Coventry and he and his wife Christine lived in various places, most recently in the village of Marton in Warwickshire. Five years ago they moved to Woking to be near their eldest daughter Paula, her postman son Andrew and granddaughter Emma. Paula works in the offices of Sainsbury’s in Knaphill.

In comparison his work with SSAFA might seem less dramatic, but it is certainly no less important, and the drop-in centre enables visitors to get help with a variety of issues.

“These cover a very wide range of needs for serving and ex-service personnel,” John told the News & Mail. “It could be anything from dealing with rent arrears or other primary debts, to help with getting furniture, a cooker or a fridge.

“Particularly, for the elderly, it can also cover vital disability equipment that may not be covered by state schemes and be beyond the means of an individual.

“For example, my very first project as a case worker was to raise the finance to buy and install a stair lift. This was going to cost upwards of several thousand pounds and was quite beyond the individual’s ability to pay.”

But SSAFA’s work isn’t always just about money. “Another recent case in Woking involved two former Gurkha soldiers and their families,” said John. “They had no financial support due largely to the fact that there was a problem with their National Insurance documentation.”

“We were able to act on their behalf to address state agencies and see the matters through to a successful conclusion as well as provide interim financial help through the Army Benevolent Fund Soldiers Charity. I always get a great deal of satisfaction when a case is completed successfully and a client has received all the help they needed.

“The need is still very much evident today.”

He said the Woking division has upwards of 100 new enquiries for help a year. Referrals come from the Citizens Advice Bureau, other charities, social services and the Police or Prison Service.

“While the level of need remains constant, cases have become more complex. In the past, a typical case might be help with getting a cooker, carpet or washing machine. Today, we often deal with a client’s need for, say, an exercise bike, school uniforms or a computer.”

A life vice-president and former vice-chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982, John helped to organise the 25th anniversary pilgrimage to the Falkland Islands, chartering an aircraft to take 250 veterans, including 60 PTSD sufferers, to Port Stanley.

While there is no official 35th anniversary, a parade is planned by veterans in Gosport at a gathering and reunion on 10 and 11 June. John will attend an anniversary dinner with the crew of HMS Antelope aboard HMS Belfast on 21 May – the anniversary of the Task Force arriving in the Falkland Islands.

FOR Years, Chobham RFC has punched above its weight on the field, and now the progressive village team is a step ahead of towns and cities when it comes to education, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

With progression very much the order of play, Chobham was one of the first rugby clubs in the country to launch a two-year, full-time, academic programme for 16-18 year olds, who want to combine playing rugby with a wider career in sport, including coaching and event management.

Run in conjunction with SCL (Soccer Coaching Limited), a leading provider of coaching and education in the south east of England, Chobham’s West Surrey Academy (WSA) is now well and truly up to speed, and thriving.

The Academy was set up in 2016 and several of its second-year scholars have accepted university places and found employment in sport after moving to Chobham to complete their BTEC extended level 3 diploma in “national sport: performance and excellence”.  And with places for its September 2017 intake already well advanced, it’s clear that the club’s popularity is rising and it has the right vision and knowhow to get the best out of its players and students.

Speaking exclusively to the News and Mail, Liam Cranford, WSA manager, said: “We first learned about the education opportunity after one of our senior teams played Blackhealth RFC, who were working in partnership with SCL.

“I have previously worked with the company, so when Chobham approached me to set up a similar programme for them, I knew it was a great opportunity to reach out and upskill more young people in the local community.  “Our programme engages students both on and off the field. It keeps them in further education, develops their rugby skills and, after two years, they leave us in a better position to make informed decisions.

“For us, it’s about harnessing students’ passion for rugby, but delivering it alongside an enriched education programme to further their onward education through sport, or help them move into full-time employment,” he added.

Cranford, who is a Rugby Football Union level 2 coach, with experience of working with Harlequins and London Irish – among others, also believes that having the right attitude and aptitude to learning is something that the club looks for when interviewing prospective candidates.

“The purpose of the programme is not to create elitism, but to find people with the right attitude to learning.  It’s about finding students who have the passion to want to push themselves, so they mirror the effort level that we put in; both on and off the park,” explained Cranford.  “In any given day, students can spend two to three hours covering the academic side of things, followed by a couple of hours playing rugby.   “The practical side is split between field sessions, playing matches, conditioning sessions and player analysis; all of which contribute to the success and wellbeing of the individual.

“After completing the two-year BTEC extended level 3 qualification; which is equivalent to three A-levels, students will have enough UCAS credits to go to university and study a sports-related discipline, or to move into the sports industry at large,” he added.

To ensure that students continue to receive a first-class education, Chobham’s fully-funded education provision and facility is assessed by OFSTED.

The schools’ inspectorate looks at the quality of how the education is delivered; the planning and provision for it, and that the playing and education facilities at Fowlers Wells in Chobham are well maintained.

As part of the two-year course, which mirrors the college academic year, students can expect to learn about principles of anatomy & physiology, sports coaching, risk analysis; coupled with sports performance, sports nutrition, event management, and rules, regulations and officiating in sport – to name just a few modules.

The Academy also competes in the Association of Colleges’ league South East Division 1; which it won in its first season, playing against the likes of Godalming College, Henley College, Berkshire College of Agriculture and Peter Symonds College.

Charlie Andrews, who joined the West Surrey Academy as a second year scholar in 2016, is just one of a number of students who will graduate this summer and has benefited from the innovative educational pathway.

He said: “Before I came here I was studying with another educational provider in Worplesdon, which wasn’t anything like what Chobham offers.

“People learn in different ways; and for me personally, I liked the idea of being able to learn through more coursework based study, and to have the opportunity to play competitive rugby around my education.

“There’s nothing wrong with sitting in a classroom each day learning, but that format didn’t work for me, which is why I was drawn towards the Academy.

“I have a passionate for rugby and to work in sport, so, for me, it was absolutely the right decision.  I have no regrets whatsoever, as it has given me the chance to progress onto higher education,” he added.

FOR more information about the West Surrey Academy, visit http://wearescl.co.uk/chobham-rugby.  Alternatively, call 07879 405402 or email: manager@westsurreyrugbyacademy.co.uk.

SCHOOLCHILDREN from Horsell and Ripley were among around 60 who took part in the 8th Surrey School’s Regatta at Papercourt Sailing Club.

Some 20 schools took part in the event in Ripley in great sailing conditions in winds of 10-15 knots that became more challenging later on.

Papercourt Commodore Frank Brown said: “This is a great event to kick off the start of our summer season and it is great that so many schools are now supporting youth sailing.

“Interest in youth sailing is growing and places are filling up on our youth courses, which start next month.”

The next popular event to take place at Papercourt is the annual Open Day on 13 May, which gives non-members the opportunity to try sailing as part of the Royal Yachting Association Push the Boat Out scheme, aimed to encourage new sailors to take to the water.

A 12-YEAR-OLD Woking schoolgirl with a brain tumour is travelling to America tomorrow to have revolutionary treatment.

Emma Vella, who goes to St John the Baptist School in Old Woking, had brain surgery twice when she was 10 but the operations were not a complete success.

She will now go to Jacksonville, Florida, with her parents Marie and Dominic to have proton therapy.

Most of the trip is being funded by the NHS, but it does not cover all the accommodation and self-employed electrician Dominic will be left short of money to support his other children Bradley, 23, and Laura, 18, who will stay back at home in New Haw.

The treatment is expected to last between five and nine weeks and the family have turned to crowdfunding to raise £9,000 to cover their costs. The fund has reached just over £5,000.

Dominic, 45, said: “Emma’s original treatment in November 2014 used up our ‘rainy day’ fund..”

Mum Marie, 43, said that her daughter also had severe hydrocephalus, a build-up of brain fluid.

“Her surgeon couldn’t remove a 100% of the tumour as it was attached to her brain stem and removing all of it would have had severe consequences. Approximately 15% still remains.

Emma’s recent MRI scan has revealed that it has started to grow again,” Marie said.

Dominic said that he had to stop working the day the latest medical news was given to the family about a month ago.

“Since then making all the arrangements has been like organising a wedding every day,” he said.

Dominic said other pressure on the family included his oldest daughter being at a crucial time in her education.

“Laura is doing A levels and we will be leaving at a time when she will be leaning on us for emotional support, but we have to go.”

He said the journey to Florida would take about 18 hours.

““Its going to be tough. We will deal with it. Emma is very able, but just gets very tired. She is not very mobile.”

Dominic added that there would be a CAT scan then blood tests. Some of the time in the US had been reduced because of preparation by the Royal Marsden in Sutton. “They have been fantastic.”

He said that they had return tickets booked for the end of May, but that might have to change if the treatment takes longer than expected.

“We have flights booked for the end of May. That might have to change.

“Emma missing school is a big concern but we will be with another family with a girl about the same age having the same treatment. There will be a study group.

“Last year only 22 people were sent for this treatment, so it is a real coincidence that there is this girl going along as well.”

The Vellas are originally from London and moved to Knaphill about 11 years ago. They then spent about five years living in Horsell.

FOR more information, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding and search for Marie Vella.

OVERGROWN flowerbeds and other neglected pieces of public land will soon be sprouting fruit and veg under an initiative launched by two Knaphill gardeners.

Kate Kett and Trixie Schoenfeld are dedicated to making Woking borough a greener and more sustainable place to live.

And they are looking to recruit other members of the community to help them. Kate, 41, and Trixie, 46, are members of a community project called Incredible Edible Woking.

Last week, they were clearing the flowerbed near Knaphill Post Office to prepare the ground for planting. Instead of weeds, rubbish and overgrown shrubs, the site could soon be home to runner beans, tomatoes, potatoes and other sustainable edibles.

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Trixie who came to England two years ago from her native Germany told the News & Mail: “I fully believe in getting involved in local activities and this is the perfect opportunity.

“There are small scruffy pieces of land all around Woking that can do with some tender loving care and are often overlooked by the local council and other organisations.

“This is where we can help and it’s nice to come out and do something positive for the community. We are always looking for new people who have the tools and strength to help us and would we love to hear from anyone else who may like to get involved.”

Kate added: “The Incredible Edible initiative has popped up in over 50 communities all over the country and inspired us to get together to try something similar here.

“We started out in Knaphill, but our work has now spread to other parts of Woking as more people join in and support the imitative. We want to bring people from all age groups together and generally improve the appearance of the communal spaces in Knaphill and beyond.”

As well as transforming the area near the post office, the group has regenerated dormant areas of land at Knaphill Lower School, around the Scout Hut in Waterers Rise and in other parts of the village.

Incredible Edible Woking holds an open evening event at the Nags Head Inn in Guildford Road, Knaphill, on the first Thursday of each month, to share members’ interest in sustainability and to discuss new projects. To find out more email ed.incred.knaphill@gmx.com.

THE CALL is out for 1,000 ‘heroes’ to swish their capes and join the 10th annual Woking & Sam Beare Hospice Midnight Walk on Friday 19 May.

The women-only event, sponsored by Trident Honda, aims to recruit 1,000 walkers topping last year’s tally of more than 900 who raised more than £120,000 for the charity.  The Walk starts at Woking Leisure Centre at 10pm to follow an eight-mile route back to the centre, with refreshments halfway at the new hospice site. Freedom Leisure, which operates Woking Leisure Centre, is providing the venue as well as training support for participants.

Walkers can buy a bright pink ‘hero’ cape through Woking & Sam Beare Hospice which they can customise at home or at a ‘pimp my cape’ stall at the beginning of the walk, to wear with a free event T-shirt. The now-traditional bunny ears will also be on sale at the event.

Patricia Chipping

Interim CEO and Director of Nursing Jayne Cooper, who will be walking with the members of the hospice executive team, says: “I hope lots of ladies will be inspired to join us, as everyone who fundraises and support our charity is a hero to us! A big thank you to Trident Honda, our headline sponsors, who are supporting this fantastic event for the first time.”

Patricia Chipping, who was Sponsorship Superstar in the 2016 event, having singlehandedly raised £2,100 when she completed the walk with her 22-year-old granddaughter Emily, has already signed up for this year’s event. “Both my best friend Barbara and her husband Colin received their care, and my husband Roy also passed away in the hospice. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years before being diagnosed with lung cancer,” she says.

“For me, staying on the ward was such a relief, because I knew that I didn’t have to cope by myself, and that I could always have a break knowing that Roy would be supported. I was also comforted to know that I wouldn’t be alone when he passed away.”

To find out more or to sign up for your early bird £10 Midnight Walk place (discount available until 3 April, places £15 after that date) please visit www.wsb-midnightwalk.co.uk. If you would like to support the new build appeal you can also donate online through www.wsbhospices.co.uk/newbuild.

STUDENTS aiming to be Formula 1 engineers have been given a big boost by a Woking businessman.

Billy Gallon, boss of the Buckingham car dealership in Albert Drive, Sheerwater, has stepped in to support a motor racing team run by Brooklands College.

The extra funding will enable the college’s motorsport engineering degree course students to travel around Britain to compete throughout the 2017 UK Formula Vee championship season.

Billy – (MD Buckingham of Guildford – third on the left) with his staff, together with Jake Hockley (Driver) and the team from Brooklands College.

Their car, a 130mph single-seater based around Volkswagen parts, is owned and driven by cyber security company chief Jake Hockley, 39, and all the maintenance is carried out at Brooklands.

Now students, many of whom hope to work in F1 after graduating, will be able to look after the vehicle during race meetings at circuits including Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park.

The team will be known as Buckingham Brooklands College Racing.

Mr Gallon, 59, said: “This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Buckingham to put something back into the local community.

“It will also help to bring along Britain’s next generation of engineers, who are sorely needed by the motor trade, both on the track and on the road.

“It makes sense for Buckingham, as VW dealers, to have a connection with a nationwide championship for cars that use VW parts.

“Apart from anything else, being involved in a racing team should be a lot of fun for me, my family and our workforce.”

Students Dominic Connors and Adam Burch, both 19, are among those who believe the project will be an important stepping stone to F1 or other international motorsport championships.

Dominic, whose ambition is to become a top racing car designer, said: “This is a great way to get there.

“This sort of racing is where companies and teams look for future employees and even by itself it will give me a really good experience of working with a team.”

Adam, who hopes to become a data analyst, added: “It’s 100 per cent about experience in the motorsport world, so every race I attend will go on my CV and will definitely help me to land a job after graduating.

“To be able to say I’ve helped to run a team at a track is so much better than just saying I’ve been in a workshop.”

The team is stepping up to a full season of racing after dipping a toe in the water last year by undertaking a limited campaign without sponsorship.

Its value was shown when one of the students involved, Toby Cook, landed a job with the renowned M-Sport team, which ran World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier to victory in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally.

JUDY Murray visited the David Lloyd club in Woking to give a tennis training workshop to local children on the first stop in a six-day tour of the country.

The mother of world No1 singles player Sir Andy and former world No1 doubles players Jamie, gave a one-hour masterclass for the health and fitness clubs’ junior members.

The sessions are aimed at increasing participation in tennis and sport in general and encourage youngsters to get more active.

Judy said: “The same motor skills underpin every sport and these can be developed in a fun and natural way through family play.

“A child’s first port of call when they want to try any activity is the parent so the more we can engage the whole family, the better.”

Dave Clarke, Head of Junior Tennis at David Lloyd, said: “It was terrific having Judy down here today.

“It is great to see how Judy simplifies coaching for all levels, while managing to keep the sessions fun and engaging.”

David Bulgin, David Lloyd Clubs Group Racquets Manager, said: “We are very excited to be working with Judy Murray in her new role as coach consultant.”

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