Vicky

 

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 www.macleodsimmonds.com/surveying-careers 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.

MORE than 250 local people braved damp and cold weather to take part in the Woking & Same Beare Hospices Santa Fun Run at Woking Park.

The runners warmed up in the leisure centre to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You with stretches led by Emma Goodman-Home from EmergyFit before gathering outside to follow either the full 4.5km route or the 1.5km option.

OFF WE GO – Santas on the run

The children could have their faces painted by Michelle Kersley while the band band Herd of Sax provided musical entertainment.

The hospices events manager Rachelle Barnett said: “We are delighted that so many ‘Santas’ of all ages joined us to support our hospice and to celebrate the festive season with us. They looked fantastic.

“We really value our Santa Fun Runners’ support towards raising the £8 million we spend providing free care each year to some 2,000 people and their families and carers across North West Surrey. Events like our Santa Fun Run make a vital difference to people’s lives that is keenly felt at this time of year, and we thank all our participants for their support. “

THE Woking branch of a storage and business facilities company is offering free space for donations to a children’s hospice and free delivery of Christmas gifts.

Titan Storage Solutions is providing up to 300 sqft of storage space for direct donations or overflow items that the charity cannot store.

Donations intended for Christmas should be made before next Friday (14 December).

A Titan spokesman said: “We noticed Shooting Star Chase was collecting donations so we wanted to help to brighten up the children’s Christmas by helping the charity get as many donations as possible over the Christmas period.

“We realised that if they were to have a high number of donations they would need somewhere to store their items – and rather than paying for this the charity were delighted we could help by providing free storage and a free drop-off service.

GENEROUS – Titan Storage Solutions’ Woking branch opened in February last year

“After this Christmas appeal we have offered to assist with any storage needs that the charity has on an on-going basis so we can continue to support them.”

Titan staff have been in Woking town centre this week promoting the charity collection.

New clothing, bedding and toys can be posted or delivered to Titan Storage Solutions on Orchard Business Park, Forsyth Road, Woking GU21 5RZ, or delivered directly to Shooting Star Chase.

The Woking branch of Titan opened in February last year and is the latest facility for the company, which has five other stores  in the southeast, Essex and the Midlands and plans to open two more next year.

As well as storage, Titan offers office space, meeting rooms and parking and mail and delivery acceptance services for businesses and individuals.

FOR more information on the charity, visit www.shootingstarchase.org.uk

ELEVEN brave Woking women have stripped off for photographs in a calendar to raise money for the Shooting Star Chase children’s hospice.

The idea was the brainchild of Radio Woking DJ Christine “Dobbo” Mabbutt to raise extra funds alongside the Jackfest gig planned for next month.

Last year Christine and husband Andrew, a fellow Radio Woking DJ, ran the first concert in honour of their nephew Jack Bruce who has muscular dystrophy and is regularly helped by Shooting Star Chase.

“I felt like doing something outrageous and daring that would also help with self-confidence,” Christine said.

The Shooting Star Chase calendar girls, from left, Dominika Suilk Louise Bruce, Becky Upton, Julia Eaton, Alison Leah Ellis, Jan Wylie, Christine (Dobbo) Mabbutt, Sue Mabbutt, Jo Taylor, Ann White and Tina Farrer,

She approached 10 members of her family and friends, all aged over 50, and they all happily agreed to take part.

Christine also secured highly respected photographer Derek D’Souza and the group all gathered in her lounge for the shoot.

Much like original Calendar Girls, popularised by the 2003 film, the women all used strategically placed props and chose ones that meant something to them. One is holding a bottle of Madeira wine, another is holding up a favourite book, one of the women is posing with a pair of buns – just like in the film, while Christine is wearing headphones, holding up records and standing behind a music player.

“Some of the group were a little shy at first, but they soon felt very relaxed and really enjoyed it. How often do you have your picture taken by a top photographer while raising money for a great cause?”

The calendar is being produced by Knaphill Print and will be available to buy for £10 by emailing djmabbs@yahoo.co.uk.

It will be available to buy at Jackfest, which will be held on 26 January 2019 at the Fiery Bird music venue.

The evening will feature local bands Birdsworth and The Sha La’s as well as DJs Murph and Mabbs from Radio Woking.

There will be a charity auction with the highlights being signed photographs of music legend Paul Weller and the band Ocean Colour Scene and T-shirts signed by Stone Foundation and Faith.

Christine said she has not set a target for the fundraising but the first Jackfest brought in £2,300, and that was a smaller event at a smaller venue.

She is already thinking ahead to build on the fundraising and said the Woking calendar girls were all keen to repeat the photo shoot for 2020.

“We’ll have time to come up with different ideas for the props,” Christine said.