ripley

HEROES – fans in Ripley show their support as Team GB manoeuvre their way through the scenic village as Olympic fever grips the nation

HEROES – fans in Ripley show their support as Team GB manoeuvre their way through the scenic village as Olympic fever grips the nation

A NATION swelled with pride as the Olympic Games burst into life over the weekend, and Woking was at the emotional heart of it.

Thousands lined the streets as the men’s and women’s road races thundered through the borough.

West Byfleet LI:VE was teeming with Union flags as Olympic fever took a firm grip on the village.

Red, white and blue clad fans roared on Team GB’s world champion Mark Cavendish and Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, only for their  medal hopes to fade on Saturday.

To have something so special come through our tiny community is truly remarkable and something we should all cherish

But they were rewarded on Sunday when Lizzie Armitstead took silver in the women’s race to claim our first medal of the Games.

Robyn Dean, 18, and Jordon Styles, 19, from Georgelands, Ripley, (right) got into the Olympic spirit by painting their faces with Union flags before watching the race in White Rose Lane. Robyn said: “I got a picture of Mark Cavendish, I’m so proud. It’s nice to see the village coming together.”

Woking mayor Michael Smith, who cycled to Saturday’s festivities at West  Byfleet recreation ground, said residents had done the borough proud with their incredible show of support.

He added: “We stood on Parvis Road and it was great to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“The fans and crowd responded incredibly to the road race and it was an amazing coming together.

“It’s unfortunate we missed out in the men’s race but it was a huge bonus to get silver in the women’s event.”

There was an overwhelming sense of pride as pictures of our area’s leafy streets were beamed across the world.

James White, 87, of West Byfleet said: “To have something so special come through our tiny community is truly remarkable and something we should all cherish. I won’t see London host the Olympics again in my lifetime so this is something to savour.”

More than a million fans lined the course for the men’s and women’s race which whizzed by Weybridge, whooshed through West Byfleet, powered on past Pyrford and ripped through Ripley en route to the gruelling climbs of Box Hill before returning to London and the finish line on the Mall.

Anita and Ray French, Sue Gibbs and her daughters Jess and Ellie and their pal Natasha Newson had ringside seats outside Hedgecroft Cottages in Newark Lane, Ripley.

Natasha said: “It was exciting and so fast.” Sue added: “You could feel the breeze coming off them.”

Dutchmen Marcel Elzenaar, Meino Meines, Ed Noorman and Gerard Meines, from Assen, all took part in an impromptu Mexican wave with other spectators in Ripley once the athletes had passed.

Gerard said the village and crowds had generated a ‘very nice atmosphere’.

Little Sam Perei, of Wentworth Close, spent two days with a friend making an Olympic banner to spur on Team GB. He watched the race with his mum Lottie, his brother Harry and their pet dog Amber. Sam said: “I worked very hard on the sign.”

Residents at Boltons Close in Pyrford marked the event with a party.

Despite the huge number of people out celebrating in the streets, Surrey Police have reported just two arrests.

Chief superintendent Gavin Stephens said: “There were only two event-related arrests in Surrey over the whole weekend and this is testament to the fantastic spirit of the thousands of people who came out to cheer on the cyclists.”

DABB HAND – Chris Dabbs shows off his Olympic Torch with wife Helen, son George and mum Brenda

DABB HAND – Chris Dabbs shows off his Olympic Torch with wife Helen, son George and mum Brenda

MARK CAVENDISH and Bradley Wiggins may have electrified the ecstatic crowds as they tore through West Byfleet, Pyrford and Ripley but it was the generosity of one local man that truly encapsulated the spirit of the Olympic Games.

Chris Dabbs, 49, who was born and raised in Send Marsh,  was one of the privileged few to take part in the prestigious Olympic torch relay when he carried the famous flame through Market Harborough in Leicestershire last month.

And in a selfless bid to share the glory and prestige with as many fans as possible, Chris brought his precious piece of memorabilia to the road race on Saturday.

The golden torch sparked a photo frenzy, with generations young and old flocking to grab a snap with the iconic torch.

He is always sharing and is always thinking of others.

Chris said: “I wanted to share my experience with everyone at the race.

“We risked being there all afternoon but I bought it out to share the joy and to see people smile is well worth it.”

Chris, who is in a wheelchair after breaking his back testing motorcycles in 1993, was nominted to carry the flame by his
employers, the Bauer group after 22 years of dedicated service.

Since his accident, he has played, coached and has been chairman of Northamptonshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club for eight years.

He also sails with Northampton Sailability, and is a huge fan of scuba diving and races karts.

In his latest project, he has got back into the saddle of a motorbike thanks to The Bike Experience.

His excellent attitude and the way he has coped with his accident are just two of the reasons why wife Helen believes he was nominated by his employers.

She said: “Chris has been travelling to schools, allowing children to get a real good look at the ­Olympic torch.

“He is always sharing and is always thinking of others. He’s also encouraging as many people as possible to back Rachel Morris in the Paralympic Games.”

Rachel is a close friend of Chris and is in a race to be fit to defend her title after securing hand-cycling gold in Beijing four years ago.

She was injured following a collision with a car during a time trial in Hampshire in July.

Her condition, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, involves a malfunction of the nervous system and sensory abnormalities, meaning she takes longer to recover from injury.

The accident has put her Paralympic hopes in jeopardy, but Chris was determined to boost her spirits and drum up support for the 33 year old.

Raving about her previous success, Chris remained confident Rachel would make a full recovery.

He said: “She is really one to watch, she’s a great girl and a top athlete. Everyone needs to get behind her and the rest of Team GB.”

And speaking on the historic moment the Olympic Games passed within a mile of his childhood home, Chris failed to disguise his pride.

He added: “It’s fantastic to see this part of the world used in an Olympic cycle course.

“The opening ceremony was truly spectacular and eccentrically British as well.

“I loved the music choice all the way through, and it’s fantastic that we all get to share it.”

SUITS YOU, SIR - Matt Cobb with his greyhounds sporting Jubilee cravats

SUITS YOU, SIR - Matt Cobb with his greyhounds sporting Jubilee cravats

IT was a weekend none of us will ever experience again. Street ­closures were rejoiced. The weather was not an issue. The Queen was ­celebrating 60 years on the throne and Woking was in the mood to party.

In Chobham a red, white and blue wave of people washed through the high street.

Horsell crowned its ­Jubilee weekend with a collection of hats that Her ­Majesty would have felt at home in.

While hundreds of picnickers ­savoured this historic moment on Byfleet village recreation ground.

A regal parade, fronted by a stirring marching band, hit the right note with revellers at ­Pirbright Green.

In Ripley, hundreds watched on as the Diamond Jubilee beacon was lit on the village green. And Pat Baker, born in the year of The Queen’s coronation, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

In total, 48 roads were lawfully closed for residents to take their parties to the street.

The Queen is the physical embodiment of all that is great about us and our country

And there were hundreds of impromptu gatherings tucked away in the borough’s streets, as friends, families and neighbours ­enjoyed a right royal knees up.

A sing off and ­Wellington boot ­throwing competition was held at Maitland Close, West ­Byfleet.

Champion ­thrower James Post, 38, said: “Celebrating a ­Jubilee is very unique.

“There will not be a day like this again for a very long time so we should take the time to enjoy it.”

Residents of Lincoln Drive, Pyrford, received the shock of their lives when the Mayor of ­Woking, Michael Smith, arrived with Mayoress Anne Murray and joined in their ­Jubilee bash.

Freda Spickett, 84, of Send, toasted Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 and remembered it being very similar to her Diamond Jubilee. She said: “It was wet and very cold that day, too.”

As The Queen marked her 60th year as head of the monarchy, villagers gathered on the green to celebrate her outstanding achievement.

A rousing marching band led a parade of patriotism, with young and old decked in their finest royal-themed fancy dress, with red, white and blue the order of the day.

Cunningham House retirement home residents decorated two golf buggies to join in the action before everyone tucked into a mouth-watering lamb roast.

Laura McMurniman, 25, who grew up in the village and was married in St Michael & All Angels church last summer, said: “It’s great how so many different generations are involved.

“My whole family being here made my dad so happy – he was actually born in the village.

“I know she was really busy but I’m sure The Queen would have loved seeing everyone enjoying themselves.”

Laura’s husband Sheldon, 30, added: “Pirbright is the quintessential British village.

“The community spirit and ‘tally- ho’ attitude really does epitomise everything we are celebrating this weekend.

“The Queen is the physical embodiment of all that is great about us and our country.

“Even the cricketers were out and about gearing up to try and get some overs in despite the rain.”