Woking Business

ONE of Woking’s largest employers, Harvey Water Softeners, has donated a new spectrometer device worth £40,000 to a pioneering research study which could revolutionise our understanding of childhood eczema.

The handheld Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer was gifted to the Unit for Population-Based Dermatology Research at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, led by Dr Carsten Flohr, Consultant Dermatologist and senior National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Fellow.

It will be used as part of a clinical trial to investigate the effect of hard water and skin care practices on the skin barrier of newborn babies, looking at how this links in with the development of eczema which affects an estimated 20 per cent of children and seven per cent of adults in the UK.

Dr Flohr said the device will improve the speed and accuracy of future research, adding “The data it gives our teams access to could lead to clearer insights into what drives the breakdown of the skin barrier in eczema.”

(l-r) Dr Carsten Flohr, Harvey Bowden

Harvey Bowden, who founded the family-owned Old Woking company in 1978, said: “It’s exciting to be doing our bit to help with this potentially life-changing work.”

A WOKING man is among a team of cyclists from a Surrey firm who have been inspired to ride 100 miles to raise £10,000 after a colleague’s son was hit by a muscle-wasting disease.

Chris Homewood, 31, who works at the cabling and data company Siemon in Chertsey, will take part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in support of Harrison’s Fund on 30 July.

He signed up for the event after colleague Steve Foster’s son Austin, now three, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2015.

Harrison’s Fund is named after ten-year-old Harrison Smith from Surrey who was diagnosed with the rare genetic condition. It affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away. Harrison’s Fund’s goal is to get as much money as possible for research to find a cure for the disease.

After Austin’s diagnosis, Steve, 42, a keen cyclist from Sussex, challenged himself to ride 600 miles, including RideLondon-Surrey, to raise money.

Chris said: “I’ve known Steve for more than five years now and when Austin’s diagnosis came through we were all shocked and saddened and wanted to do something to contribute.

“I was so inspired by his effort and determination to accomplish the many rides and distances last year that when he mentioned he was planning to get a team together for this year I jumped at the chance.

“I am looking forward to raising much needed funds and awareness and being part of such an iconic activity.”

One in 3,500 boys in the UK is born with Duchenne each year. Their average lifespan is just 20 years and the disease is 100% fatal.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 is a 100-mile bike ride on closed roads, starting in the Olympic Park, taking in the Surrey Hills, and then finishing on the Mall. More than 20,000 cyclists will be taking part.

Joining Chris and Steve will be Dan Vout, 39, plus colleagues from other parts of the world.

To support the team please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steven-foster11.

WOKING-BASED lingerie giant HanesBrands has donated £10,000 to the breast cancer charity Walk the Walk in the run-up to the 20th fundraising MoonWalk.

Some 15,000 walkers are expected to gather at Clapham Common on Saturday for the annual event, wearing decorated bras to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer.

Loredana Sole and Mellissa Coulter with the cake made by Laura Robinson. Loredana and Mellissa are wearing the decorated bras of the type that all pariticants in the Monwalk and Half-Moonwalk will be wearing.

Nina Barough, CBE, the charity’s founder and chief executive, was on hand to accept the cheque from the HanesBrands office in Church Street West. The company bought Playtex, whose lingerie includes Wonderbra and sports bras.

Sixteen HanesBrands employees will take part in the London MoonWalk this year.

The charity, whose headquarters are in the Genesis Business Park in Albert Drive, Woking, has raised £116 million and makes grants to a variety of cancer organisations. It also funds hospitals across the country to by Scalp Cooling systems, which help people undergoing chemotherapy to retain their hair.

WILL Forster, the Liberal Democrat leader on Woking Borough Council, will fight Jonathan Lord for the parliamentary seat in the general election on 8 June. UKIP is also fielding a candidate, local businessman Troy de Leon.

The Lib Dems announced that Mr Forster was their candidate this week, with Mr Lord reselected last weekend at a special general meeting of the Woking Conservative Association. UKIP named Mr de Leon on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Labour Party announced its candidate as Fiona Colley, the Southwark Council cabinet member for Finance. Ms Colley is a former pension fund manager with a Masters in Economics from the University of Cambridge. A Labour Party spokesperson said that her parents live in Woking.

Mr Forster said: “I am delighted to have been selected as the Lib Dem candidate for Woking.  I have lived in Woking for more than two decades and been a councillor for the last eight years. I know Woking so well and see the problems residents face on a daily basis.  I love this town and this borough, and I want to be its voice in Westminster.”

Europe is likely to feature heavily in the Woking campaign with Mr Forster saying: “I know so many people, including lifelong Conservatives, are very unhappy with the current MP who backed Leave in the recent referendum and is backing the Government’s Hard Brexit agenda, despite Woking voted overwhelming to Remain.

“As Woking’s MP, I will always back local residents and represent their views in Parliament.”

Mr Lord said: “It has been a great privilege to have represented the residents of the Woking  constituency since 2010 and I am honoured that our local Conservative Association has re-selected me as their candidate for the election.

“Under Conservative leadership both locally and nationally, I think that Woking has gone from strength to strength. There has been a real transformation of our town centre over the past few years and our villages and communities continue to be wonderful places to live and to raise a family.

“Business is good, local employment is at an all-time high, and our young people are doing outstandingly well at our schools and colleges.

“But we must never be complacent. I believe that it is only Theresa May and a Conservative Government, supported by our excellent local Conservative councils, who can help deliver the continued growth and prosperity we need to flourish into the future.”

Mr de Leon has had connections in Woking for about 25 years and has lived in the town for around ten years. He is standing in the county council elections today for the Knaphill and Goldsworth West seat, where his chief opponent is also a Conservative, Cllr Saj Hussain.

Mr Lord had a 20,810 majority over second-placed Labour in 2015. The Lib Dems put up a strong fight in the 2010 general election coming second with a gap of less than 7,000 votes. But in the  nationally disastrous election five years ago, the party finished third in Woking, 174 votes ahead of UKIP.

A CHOBHAM  children’s nursery has just been voted an “extradordinary” place to work by its staff for the sixth year running.

Pennypot Day Nursery is part of the Childbase Partnership, which was rated 25th in the prestigious Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For listing, just published. The list is compiled from the views of workers themselves.

The company is one of only 160 UK organisations to achieve three-star, “Extraordinary” accreditation – for the sixth time in a row.

Carol McDonough, deputy manager at the staff-owned company in Pennypot Lane, said: “It is a very personal achievement because we are all employee owners and what we say really does make a difference.

Pictured: (L-R) Team leaders, Cathy Burrows, Aprille Goubert, Anna Jackman, and Pennypot deputy manager, Carol McDonough.

“When you are committed to giving young children the very best start in life, a happy supported staff team, who love their work and workplace, is vital.”

She added: “Ofsted inspectors have told us repeatedly that a happy and engaged staff team equals happy children. Our pride in our nursery and our company is reflected in our happy and confident children and there is nothing more rewarding or satisfying than that.”

For children aged six weeks to five years, Pennypot Day Nursery offers innovative learning through play programmes in imaginative, age-appropriate rooms which all have ‘free-flow’ access to a large garden with all-year-round secure and separate play and learning areas.

Childbase Partnership was the Employee Ownership Association’s Employee Owned Business of the Year 2016 and UK National Champion in the European Business Awards.

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 31st 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.”

THE Princess Royal officially opened a £24 million world-leading vaccine development facility at The Pirbright Institute near Woking.

The Jenner Building is home to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) National Vaccinology Centre. It accommodates 100 scientists working on cutting-edge research to generate new vaccines for a variety of livestock diseases, including those that can spread to humans. Scientists mainly focus on poultry diseases such as bird flu and Marek’s disease, but they also develop vaccines for other animal viruses such as the devastating African horse sickness virus.

The building is 14.6m tall and has 3,700sqm of floor space across two floors, which is equivalent to 19 tennis courts.

It has shared, open-plan laboratories that can each house between six to 30 scientists. Specialised labs include a bio-imaging, cell culture suite and a Home Office incubation laboratory

Recent breakthroughs at Pirbright include using new technologies that facilitate the development of a new-generation of genetically modified vaccines.

Dr Bryan Charleston, interim director and CEO of The Pirbright Institute, said the organisation was very honoured to have Princess Anne officially open the centre.

“Our innovative new facilities will enable scientists to develop a greater understanding of virus-host interactions and how best to combat diseases using the latest technologies including the genetic modification of vaccines and viruses,” Dr Charleston said.

[red blob] THE Jenner Building was designed by the architects NBBJ, who were appointed in 2012. It consumes 20% less energy than the buildings it replaced. This was achieved by including features such as automated façade vents for night-time cooling, rainwater harvesting, extensive use of LED lights, and 283 photovoltaic panels on the roof with a brief to design for adaptability in the context of an evolving campus and changing research programmes and to ensure the design reflected the rural campus while setting new standards for sustainability and quality of experience for occupants.

Landscape designers Robert Myers Associates created a wildflower meadow to the south, part of which was awarded to the Institute for winning the CIRIA biodiversity BIG Challenge Awards. The rest of the wildflower planting was donated by construction company John Sisk & Sons, and is haven for wildlife and insects.

WOKING shoppers and businesses could to join a groundbreaking worldwide loyalty card scheme that combines cash-back with bonus points.

The planned scheme would involve shoppers signing up for a Lyoness card with shops and other businesses in the town centre.

The card, run by the Austrian-based Lyoness Management GmbH, is available in Britain but Woking Borough Council would be the first local authority in the country to take part in a mass sign-up of the programme.

It would be free to shoppers who would get cashback up to 5% that would go into their bank accounts, while businesses in the scheme would get 0.5% on all transactions, not only in Woking but in any of the 47 countries around the world where the card is accepted.

Woking Borough Council would receive 0.5% of all transactions, all of which would benefit good causes through the Woking Community Foundation.

 Jubilee Square, Woking, Surrey.
Pictures by: Jake Darling

The plan is to be put forward tonight (23 March) to the council executive, which will be asked to recommend that the full council appoints Lyoness to run the programme at its next meeting on 6 April.

Businesses will have to buy the electronic devise to process card transactions and pay a small monthly fee, but will benefit, not only directly from the money back on transactions, but by increased custom and marketing generated by the card.

They would offer products or services to the Lyoness bonus points system at discounts of between 5% and 15%.

It is believed that other loyalty schemes in neighbouring boroughs have been considered but dismissed on cost grounds, whereas the Lyoness version, which will be known as the Woking Loyalty Card Programme if it receives the backing of the full council, is seen as costing the authority very little, while offering widespread benefits. It would be managed by the council’s Business Liaison team as part of its business engagement duties and would add very little administration cost.

The draft plan involves the scheme being introduced to the town centre, and then to other parts of the borough with the hope that surrounding local authorities will see the advantages and join in.

It is believed that some local authorities in London are watching the planned Woking scheme closely.

Business Liaison portfolio holder Cllr Saj Hussain said: “This would be great – it would put Woking on the map as the card will be available globally – Australia, Dubai and elswhere. With the benefits to businesses, shoppers and good causes, it is a win-win situation.

“I hope the executive and council agrees and look forward to this coming to the town.”

THE redevelopment of Woking town centre has moved an important step forward with retail giant Marks & Spencer signing a lease for a two-storey 50,000sq ft food and clothes store in the plush Victoria Square complex.

The deal means that the superstore is now a certainty for the base of the £460million development that will include a 196-room Hilton Woking hotel and 390 apartments.

David Ayre, Property Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re really looking forward to work starting on our store later on this summer.

“M&S Woking will bring shoppers the very best of M&S’s clothing and food products – as well as outstanding customer service.”

The Victoria Square development, comprising the former Woking Market, Post Office, Globe House, Woking Fire Station and part of the existing Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, will be delivered by Bandstand Square Developments Ltd, a joint venture between Moyallen, owners of Peacocks Shopping Centre, and Woking Borough Council.

Various stores in the Wolsey, including Boots, will be moving over the next six weeks to help to ease the building.

Council chief executive Ray Morgan said he wanted to emphasise that the town centre was open for business during the inevitable disruption, including road closures and diversions.

Mr Morgan said that residents were being put off from coming into the town centre because of negative headlines about the changes.

He said there was a particularly difficult day in January, but that was mostly down to problems on the M25 that had knock-on effects.

“We do want to discourage through-traffic; using the A320 as a cut-through from the A3 to the M25. But we want to encourage people to continue to come into the town for work, leisure or retail therapy,” Mr Morgan said.

He said there would be further announcements about changes to the roads, including having a bus lane on the far left of Victoria Way between Lockfield Drive and the pedestrian crossing near the New Victoria Theatre. There would be a bus stop near the Bedser Bridge across the Basingstoke Canal to allow easier pedestrian access to that part of the town.

Mr Morgan said that the new apartments would be for rent only and would cost about £1,800 a month for a two-bedroom home.

He said these would be aimed at couples, aged in the 22 to 38 bracket, who both had jobs and might want to share with another couple.

There would be other accommodation in the town centre that would be targeted at people with lower incomes.

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.