This year’s panto production of Aladdin at the New Victoria Theatre Woking, features starring roles for Brendan Cole as The Spirit of the Ring and the nation’s favourite Bobby Davro as Wishee Washee.   And you certainly won’t be disappointed by this hilarious production as it takes you on a magic-carpet ride to be remembered.   

Featuring all of the traditional pantomime ingredients, bucket loads of hilarity, plenty of laugh-out-loud jokes, sensational special effects along with fabulous singing and dancing, there’s no better way to get into the spirit this Christmas.   

Bobby Davro as Wishee Washee

Widow Twankey, played by David Phipps-Davis, steps out in costumes that get more and more outrageous as the show gathers pace.  Starting off in an apron adorned with a washing machine, she later transforms into a Chinese takeaway dish of noodles with chop-sticks adorning her wig. 

Brendan glides across the stage and there are plenty of references for Strictly fans to enjoy, but there was an unexpected winner to the dance-off when much to Bobby Davro’s joy, Brendan dropped his cane and admitted defeat.  The highlight for many must have been when Brendan had to retrieve ‘Five Toilet Rings’ from the audience, no less than three times, impressing the crowd with his acrobatics, then almost coming a cropper as he stood on the back of a seat to throw the prop back on stage.

The Chief of Police and his sleepy turtle ‘Willy’ was a crowd pleaser, especially popular amongst the younger members of the audience.   The whole theatre were soon shouting at the top of their voices to ‘Wake Up Willy’ !

Bobby Davro entertained from start to finish, with some incredible singing about his three legged donkey at the beginning of the show, to having the entire audience up on their feet singing, shouting, screaming and bouncing to his song about his Australian kangaroo, complete with huge kangaroo outfit of course.  It was all going swimmingly, until he fell over and had to be helped back on his feet by back stage staff.  Cue more laughter. 

This year’s panto is fabulous, you will laugh out loud at the cheesy jokes and numerous gags, but you will also be awestruck by the fabulous costumes, special effects and a live orchestra, with no shortage of audience participation. 

SURVEYOR Claudia Harley has joined the Vail Williams team at their Woking office. 

She has joined the firm’s acquisitions and disposal team as Surveyor (Level2) from Lewis & Co in south west London, where she worked for two years as a graduate surveyor.

Claudia Harley, front right, has joined property consultants Vail Williams LLP at their office in Woking. Also pictured are (back left-right) Matt Clarke, partner, Geoff Fallon, regional managing partner for Surrey and Kevin Cook, partner and member of the executive board, together with recent promotee, Elliot McNish, front left.

Her role in Woking will see her work alongside partners Matt Clarke and Steve New, advising occupiers, landlords, developers and investors on the acquisition and disposal of commercial property.  

“Her appointment marks the start of an exciting period for us, as we seek to grow our multi-disciplinary team in response to our increasing client base in Surrey,” said Geoff Fallon, Vail Williams’ regional managing partner for Surrey.

“The knowledge she brings of the south west London property market will complement our own, and the extra resource she brings will ensure we are well placed to take advantage of growth trail.”

Claudia is experienced in the letting and sale of office, retail and industrial properties, with particular knowledge of the south west London market where she was involved in the acquisition of a large owner-occupied office in Twickenham and achieved the highest rental figure ever in the Wimbledon Village office market.

“Vail Williams has a high calibre client base, strong ambitions and a clear direction of travel. This together with their culture and values, made it a very attractive opportunity,” she said.

One of The Who’s greatest albums, it became the film which launched a mod revival – now Quadrophenia is being resurrected again.

This time, the songs like The Real Me, I’m One, 5.15 and Bell Boy will be played live by eight-piece band The Goldhawks at G Live, Guildford, on Wednesday (10 July).

REBELLION – Doug Freeman fronting The Goldhawks in Quadrophenia

Released in October 1973, The Who’s second rock opera, Quadrophenia, was guitarist Pete Townshend’s homage to a pivotal moment in British youth culture.

The album tells the story of Jimmy, a mod, by chronicling his dissatisfaction with life, work, love, home, and family life. It served as an ode to teenage angst and counterculture rebellion, as well as a criticism of the British class, economic and educational systems.

Quadrophenia Live will see the album played in its entirety, along with a few other all-time Who hits for good measure.

MANY actresses would be wary of baring all on stage – even for a hit show like Calendar Girls The Musical, but there are no such fears for Denise Welch.

The former Coronation Street and Waterloo Road star laughs and says: “I’m not nervous about that. I have lots of strategically placed cakes and buns

“Anyway, it’s the least of our worries. We’re all of a certain age and too long in the tooth to care. The production’s not for titillation, it’s for comedy.”

She’ll be getting her kit off as Celia in the latest version of the show alongside television presenter Fern Britton as Marie, Lorraine Bruce as Cora, Anna-Jane Casey as Annie, Sara Crowe as Ruth, Hi-De-Hi’s Ruth Madoc as Jessie and Rebecca Storm as Chris.

STEPPING OUT – From left, Karen Dunbar, Anna Jane Casey, Ruth Madoc, Fern Britton, Rebecca Storm, Denise Welch, Sara Crowe. Picture by John Swannell

Denise says she has no qualms about her curves these days. After a public battle with drinking, she admits that eating replaced her alcohol addiction and she piled on the pounds. But after a weight-loss plan involving some cognitive behavioural therapy she shed two stone and has kept the weight off for five years. She even posted pictures of her bikini-clad self on Instagram recently.

“When I do those photos, I’m basically empowering women,” she explains. “I’m 60 and not bad for an old bird, and you can do that too.

Denise, who won the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2012, says: “Sometimes I feel every year of my 60 years, and other days I don’t at all. I have a very active, busy life.

“I’ve got a young husband (Lincoln Townley is 15 years her junior) and I’m very lucky to be an in-demand actress, presenter and author.

“A lot of people say they’re invisible at 60 and can’t get a job. I’m lucky that I have several.”

Written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, Calendar Girls The Musical is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies from Rylstone & District WI, who decide to appear nude for a calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands, and have to date raised almost £5 million for Bloodwise.

This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary. Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, will continue to receive funds from this production.

Calendar Girls The Musical will be at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from Tuesday 26 March until Saturday 30 March.

IF YOU need any convincing that Sandi Toksvig is a national treasure, you just have to listen to her talking about renewing her wedding vows in an event attended by thousands of fans at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“My wife and I renewed our wedding vows on the stage,” explains the Danish-born comedian, presenter and actor. “It was a small gathering, a few family – and a thousand of my close friends. It was held on the day that same sex marriages were made legal.

“It was astonishing. I invited 150 family and friends, and let it be known to the general public that if anybody wanted to come, they were most welcome.

“The hall was full. There were literally thousands of people. It was every kind of person you could possibly imagine. It was very jolly. The only drawback was that there wasn’t enough cake!”

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Sandi Toksvig and in a nod to her unofficial status, her latest tour is called National Trevor.

After a spell making TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off and QI, Sandi can’t wait to come face-to-face with her audience again in a show that will feature a Q&A and lots of jokes, including funny facts.

“I’m endlessly interested in things,” says the 60-year-old. “I think detail is terribly funny. Did you know that the glue on Israeli postage stamps is Kosher?”

National Trevor will also showcase a general knowledge quiz, although she says: “I don’t know if you want to win it, because then you have to come up on stage and talk to me all about your life!”

It’s the audience interaction that Sandi is most looking forward to, adding: “I can’t wait to get out there. The best bit is not me talking to them – it’s them talking to me. Me talking? Not so interesting. Them talking? Very interesting!

“You never quite know what is going to happen.‎ The unexpected stuff is always the most enjoyable part. The most unexpected thing that ever happened in a show took place during a Q& A in Bradford. A woman asked me what my bra size was. I couldn’t remember, so she had to come up on stage and have a look!”

That title, National Trevor,  also comes from a witty exchange. Sandi explains: “One day, a friend of mine was being extremely rude to me‎. A lot of my friends are – I encourage it! So in the middle of this argument, I said to her ‘don’t you know I’m a national treasure?’ and she replied ‘you’re a national Trevor?’ Then her husband said ‘who’s been calling her Trevor?’ Now they call me Trevor.

“So that’s why I gave the show this title. I’m going round the country looking for all the National Trevors. I’m celebrating people.”

Sandi Toksvig’s National Trevor tour reaches G Live in Guildford on Wednesday (23 January).

A SURVEYING firm based in Woking is looking for new staff in a job that offers the opportunity to travel and explore the country.

Macleod Simmonds, whose Surrey office is in the Boundary Business Centre in the town centre is looking to expand its team and has a selection of roles available from trainee to Qualified Surveyor.

Jon Bottomley says: “Working as a surveyor will give you the opportunity to travel all over the country and spend lots of time outside.”

The firm, whose head office is in Chichester, is involved in some of the most exciting  engineering projects in the country and has pioneered sub-surface radar technologies as well as more traditional and drone methods.

The projects it is working on include the East-West super cycle highway in London and developments in the City of London in areas of high archaeological significance.

The firm was awarded the prestigious Most Innovative Highway Authority Award at the 2018 Highways Awards for its work at Aldgate Square in London, with the judges praising “very positive outcomes achieved from the highways project that has shown excellent practice and new ways of working.”

Matt Cook, a utility mapping surveyor, joined Macleod Simmonds two years ago as a trainee and now helps to train new recruits alongside travelling around the country to work on some of the highest profile construction projects in the UK.

“The technology available at Macleod Simmonds is some of the best in the industry,” Matt said. “My favourite is the new Stream-C we use; it looks like a stealth bomber!’

Jon Bottomley, a senior surveyor, joined the team in June last year with 13 years’ experience in the industry.

“Working as a surveyor will give you the opportunity to travel all over the country and spend lots of time outside,” Jon said.

“One of the things that initially attracted me to work as a surveyor was the mix of office-based computer work and work out on site. A surveying career offers a nice amount of variety,” he added.

FOR more information visit or call 0330 6781115.

A VETERAN peace, anti-nuclear, climate change and sustainability campaigner from Pyrford has died.

Mary Holdstock passed away aged 83 in Woking Hospice on Friday 28 December.

Her life had been one of involvement in many local organisations, notably the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Woking United Nations Association and Woking Local Agenda 21.

She was until recently an active member the Woking Debates committee, encouraging co-operation and discussion on important topics which affect the borough and the wider world.

Mary and Douglas Holdstock with Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivor Marika Jiva, before the presentation of Declarations of Public Conscience to the International Court of Justice in 1996.

Mary was born on 13January 1935 in Corby Glen, Lincolnshire, the second of seven children. Her father was a farmer and, as the eldest daughter, she cared for all her younger siblings.

After training as a nurse in Manchester and at University College Hospital, London, she met and married her future husband, Douglas Holdstock, who was then a junior physician.

In 1971, they moved to Woking with their two daughters, Jennifer and Rosemary, and Mary worked for 17 years as a nurse at the Rowley Bristow orthopaedic hospital in Pyrford.

Mary acted as Douglas’s secretary when he began writing and editing articles and books using a medical perspective to campaign for peace. They were both active in the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and founder members of the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear War.

Douglas was editor of the campaign’s journal before he died in 2008 and Mary was on the editorial board for 31 years.

Her anti-nuclear activities included taking supplies to the women’s protest camp at the Greenham Common cruise missiles base in the 1980s and 90s. She also did administration work for Crisis at Christmas.

“Both Mary and Douglas were extremely caring people and they campaigned against nuclear weapons and for a more peaceful, inclusive society as members of numerous organisations,” said Jennifer.

“She was also concerned about protecting the environment and enjoyed being a member of RHS Wisley.

Mary leaves her daughters and four grandchildren. Her family have thanked the hospice team for their “fantastic care” during her illness.

At Mary’s request, her funeral will be at the Shamley Green woodland burial ground. The family intend to hold a memorial event later in the year.

JACKFEST is back in Woking on Saturday 26 January at the Fiery Bird.

The event used to be staged at Westfield Club but has moved to the town’s 1,000-capacity venue for this year’s gig in aid of Shooting Star Chase.

Bands will include the female-fronted London outfit Argonaut, whose guitarist Nathan hails from Woking, and are promoting their latest album, Forever, plus three-piece Rollin’ Machine from Southend who play garage punk and have a new EP, Off The Clock, out soon.

Also on the bill will be Woking band Birdsworth and mod four-piece The Sha La La’s, back for their third Jackfest.

ANDY Reiss could read music at the age of five – but took the long route to stage stardom.

The creator of “best of the musicals” show Beyond The Barricade eventually hit the West End but only because of a chance audition after years of working in child care law.

“I was always surrounded by music from an early age with my parents and grandparents being involved in Hednesford Salvation Army brass band,” explains the singer, who made his name in Les Miserables. “By the age of five I had learnt how to read and play music. I think that definitely gave me a good grounding in music for my future.

“I played in a few bands during my later teenage years, but I always loved performing in the local musical theatre societies too.”

Andy Reiss, second right, with his fellow Beyond The Barricade stars David Fawcett, Katie Leeming and Poppy Tierney

However, Andy didn’t follow his passion for a career at first.

“I went to university and studied economics with child care law, and worked within that field for a number of years,” he explains.

“However, most of my spare time was given over to performing on stage. I then attended an open audition for the first production of Les Miserables outside the West End, just because I wanted to give it a go, and was very surprised when they offered me a contract.

“I thought it would just be 12 months’ work and I’d go back to my day job. I never dreamed I would end up touring with the show in Manchester, Dublin and Edinburgh, and then transferring to the West End. It was also a great privilege to return to Les Mis, as the resident director for the first National Tour.”

He then set up Beyond the Barricade, a concert portrayal of the great songs in musical theatre, all performed live by former West End stars. Andy is joined by David Fawcett, Katie Leeming and Poppy Tierney to sing classics from the likes of The Phantom of The Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon, Hamilton and, of course, Les Miserables.

“The original concept came about when David and I were performers in Les Miserables,” says Andy. “I saw the potential of creating a concert version of some of the most popular songs from the musical theatre genre.

“I wanted to make sure the songs were true to the original versions, so that the audience could invest in sitting and listening to a concert version, but be completely immersed in the storytelling of each particular song,” Andy says.

“We take our audience on a journey through some of the greatest stage musicals.”

The 20th anniversary tour of Beyond the Barricade reaches the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Sunday 13 January.

WOKING Foodbank has received more donations in the run-up to Christmas than ever in its five-year history and has more than enough to give to needy people in the borough.

AlisonBuckland, the charity’s administrator, said the organisation was “swimming in food” adding”: “We’d like to celebrate the huge amount of donations the generous people of Woking have given – we are delighted.”

Alison said the spike in donations began at Harvest Festival time in the autumn and was boosted by a big campaign at a local supermarket which led to a delivery of 800kg of food, including lots of Christmas fare.

She said more donations were expected from a “foodbank challenge” at a supermarket in Sheerwater, where people were filming themselves dropping off items and then posting it on social media and challenging family members or friends to do the same.

“The amount coming in is causing a bit of a logistical problem. We are almost bursting at the seams but it’s a good problem to have,” Alison said.

She said that the donations meant that everyone who has been coming to the food bank since the beginning of this month has had the opportunity to take a Christmas hamper, which has items such as stuffing, a Christmas pudding, cake, biscuits and chocolates.

Last week,the food bank posted an urgent message on its website saying that its warehouse was full and was closed until the new year.

The message continued: “If you have already arranged a collection with us, please do still bring that in to us.  If you are planning a collection, please don’t forget us but consider delaying until the spring when we are likely to have shortages again. 

“Another alternative would be to donate supermarket gift vouchers, we can then purchase bread and some fresh items as required.”

Alison said that the gift vouchers were used to buy baby milk for a mother who was ill and couldn’t get out to get it herself.

The main foodbank is at The Lighthouse in Woking High Street with branches at the Salvation Army in Sythwood and the Mascot Hub in Sheerwater, open at various times from Mondays to Fridays.

The Food Bank also donates food to various Christmas lunches across the borough.

TheLighthouse food bank will host its own lunch, for about 80 people, preceded by a church service.

“People have been so generous. One person walked in with some food and we said we had enough and they gave us gift vouchers worth £100 instead,” Alison said.