Editorial Team


A WOKING hairdresser is starring in a reality show pitting professional avant garde stylista against each other.

Donna O’Donoghue, who lives in Westfield, is a contestant on Extreme Hair Wars, which began on Thursday 20 September on Channel 5 Star.

Battle of the stylists – Donna is starring in Extreme Hair Wars

Donna ran a salon in Knaphill for 15 years and is now a styling teacher and does hair for special events.

One of those was a Star Wars-themed wedding and another featured a bride as an Elvish princess from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

She said the programme was “probably the most stressful, out-of-my-comfort-zone, experience I’ve ever had.

“That bit you see on reality programmes where contestants are waiting to hear their fate – that went on for 45 minutes,” Donna said.

She said she later learnt that the delay was caused by a heated argument between the judges and the show producers as to which contestant had to leave.

“I’m hoping that will be shown,” she said.

Read the full story in the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

AMERICAN-STYLE high-rise living could come to Woking if a 33-storey apartment block in Commercial Way is given the go-ahead.

Cortland UK, the British arm of a developer based in Atlanta, Georgia, hopes to build 290 homes on the former British Home Stores premises, now occupied by the British Heart Foundation.

Artist impression of part of the proposed Cortland development

The company held public consultations in Christ Church last week showing that half the flats would be one-bed and the other half two and three-bed.

There are no plans for any shops or offices, as in some of the other town centre developments, but there would be “a tech-hub and co-working space for residents and visitors to enjoy”.

The block would contain a swimming pool and gym for the residents and there would be 24-hour concierge service. Uniformed porters are regular sights in the doorways of upmarket blocks in US cities.

Richard Olsen, Executive chairman of Cortland UK, Richard Olsen, said that the developer can make a real difference to Woking.

“The population of Woking is estimated to increase by 10,000 people by 2034. Woking is an attractive town for those living, working and visiting London.

“With improvements across the town, enviable links to Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, London and its major airports, it is a highly attractive town to live in,” Mr Olsen said.

For the full story, see the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

THE West End came to West End village last week as pupils at Gordon’s School were given masterclasses in make-up, singing and dancing by cast and crew of the hit musical The Lion King.

Sophie Fifield gets made up by professional designer Rowena Hulme

Drama students, singers, dancers and would-be make-up artists learnt from the best in their chosen professions, all of them connected with the show that has been running in London for the past 17 years.

Students were treated to a make-up workshop by Rowena Hume, Worldwide Associate Hair and Make Up designer, who showed them the intricate work that goes into creating the incredible animal faces.

Students in the dance class learn to leap like a gazelle

Then one of the show’s actors Ben Heathcote, who plays Timon in the London production gave an insight into the industry, with tips on how to progress in music, film, television and theatre, for those that enjoy the spotlight or want to work behind the scenes.

For full report and special picture spread, get the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

WESTFIELD got back to winning ways, avoiding a fifth straight defeat as they pulled apart Molesey on Saturday.

Victory was enough to move The Yellows up to ninth in the table as they struck four past a hapless Molesey at the Walton Road Stadium.

Aaron Watson was among the goals again for Westfield

An early penalty opened the scoring, before Aaron Watson picked up a brace and then turned provider for new signing Daryl Cooper-Smith to volley home.

“The team showed that they’re adjusting to the pace and physicality of the league, so I believe there’s more to come from the players,” said Westfield manager Tony Reid.

For the full report, get the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

INTERNATIONAL smash hit Spirit of the Dance is one of the most successful dance shows ever and it’s now coming to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre this Saturday (22 Sep).

Seen by more than thirty million people in twenty countries around the world Spirit of the Dance is winner of nine Global Awards, including “Best Choreography” and “Best International Production”.

Irish in origin and bursting with raw energy, this explosive show combines heart-pounding Irish Dance with the sensual Latino rhythms of Flamenco and Red Hot Salsa in a thrilling production of strength and passion.

The world champion dancers of the Irish International Dance Company are getting ready to take to the New Victoria Theatre stage with this award-winning spectacle at 7.30pm on Saturday.

Tickets from £13 – Box Office on 0844 871 7645 or online at www.atgtickets/woking

ALAN Dowson bemoaned his lack of leadership as Woking slipped to their first home defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to Dulwich Hamlet at the Laithwaite’s Community Stadium.

Woking players dejected after first home defeat – Picture: David Holmes

Woking were missing captain Josh Casey while Ian Gayle was on the bench, and that lack of leadership showed as poor marking allowed Michael Chambers to put Dulwich ahead early on, heading the visitors into a third minute lead.

Harvey Bradbury equalised with his first goal for the Cards on his first start after signing from Oxford United earlier in the week.

However, it wasn’t to be a dream debut as the former Aldershot Town forward Iffy Allen won it for Dulwich just six minutes later as the league leaders suffered just their second defeat of the season.

For the full report and pictures, get the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

SHEERWATER advanced into the First Round Proper of the Buildbase FA Vase after an emphatic 5-0 win away at Chessington & Hook United on Saturday, writes Josh Boothroyd.

It was another day to remember for The Sheers, as they annihilated their Combined Counties League Division One rivals at Chalky Lane to continue their rich run of form.

Sheer’s Tom Hegarty, in white, clashes with Trey Masikini

After showing plenty of character to beat Bagshot in midweek, the Woking-based side knew they were just 90 minutes from making history again; and from a fixture that has never had a problem in producing goals.

And so it proved as Shane Rideout, Chris Machay, Luke Taylor and Robbie Wilson all found the back of the net to round out a fine win.

“We created more history; it would be nice to get a home draw in the next round,” said manager Pete Ruggles, speaking to the News & Mail after the match. “We shouldn’t fear anyone now.”

For full details and pictures, see the 20 September edition of the News & Mail

BRIAN Blessed – he who is half actor, half explorer – will be bringing his booming presence to Surrey this month to talk about his life experiences – and there have been a lot, writes Barry Rutter.

In An Evening With Brian Blessed, his career on stage and screen will lead to anecdotes from Flash Gordon, Black Adder, I Claudius and Z Cars and his many appearances in Shakespearean productions.

Enjoy An Evening With Brian Blessed

He will also share his experiences as an avid climber who has conquered both Everest and Kilimanjaro.

“It’s a one man show with me being me, 50% actor, 50% explorer,” explains the 81-year-old who was born in Yorkshire and now lives in Windlesham. “I’ll be discussing drama, acting and performance. Art is everything.

“I like telling people that I went to drama school with [Star Trek star] Patrick Stewart, we both got grants. I was the son of a coal miner and this opportunity kick-started my career. Britain is fantastic, we’re shaking with art.”

As for the other side of his career, Blessed booms proudly: “I am the oldest man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, I’ve completed space training in Moscow and at NASA and I’ve worked on Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox – I’ve worked with many scientists.”

His favourite place “has to be” the summit of Mount Everest, adding: “I was stood in the stratosphere and the sky was dark blue cobalt.”

Meanwhile, his work with animal charities like the World Wildlife Fund and Born Free Foundation has seen him being filmed saving animals and he’s had a multitude of rescued pets including dogs, cats and ponies.

“My favourite animal though is a gorilla called Gugus,” explains Blessed. “He was six foot four inches and I met him at Aspinall in Canterbury in the ‘70s – we had a special connection.”

Although he wants to retain plenty of detail for his live show, he admits the highlight of his acting career was performing in the 2006 film of As You Like It set in Japan.

“I played the good Duke and the bad Duke… in some scenes I played against myself,” he laughs. “For the bad Duke I got to wear a black cape like Darth Vader. The director was Kenneth Branagh and we’ve worked on five films together.”

And he has no regrets – not even missing out on being Dr Who.

No, I was offered the part of Dr Who back in 1965,” he reveals. “I was 25 and I said I was too young. I am delighted a woman’s playing the Doctor next. The strength of mankind is its women. Ninety per cent of men bore me, I’m a fan of women.”

An Evening With Brian Blessed will be at G Live in Guildford on Wednesday 26 September.

If you need any more persuasion, the man himself promises: “It’ll be an original evening, joyful and comical. I want to change every cell in the body, I want the audience to go away utterly changed and I want to encourage young people to go on adventures. Adventure is the key for the millennials.”

A CHURCH break-in was foiled and the intruder sent packing, thanks to the quick actions of a local churchwarden.

Adrian Vincent surprised the would-be burglar after the man had broken into All Saints Church in Woodham, and pursued the intruder while giving directions to the police over his phone as the man fled the scene, running off into woodland.


All Saints churchwarden Adrian Vincent


“My wife, who is more kind than me, is praying for the man that he sees the error of his ways,” said Adrian. “While I am praying that he be brought to justice.”

The break-in was foiled on Sunday night, September 9. All Saints Church – currently holding an art exhibition of the works of local artists – had suffered several incidents of petty vandalism.

“On the previous Monday night we had a stone thrown through the church hall window, smashing it and damaging the cooker inside. On the Friday night we had a flower pot smashed and a display stamped on. On the Saturday night we had a stone thrown smashing the patio window of the church room where our Art Exhibition is being held,” Adrian said.

“So, on the Sunday night I sat in the church room with the lights out, watching the porch which is illuminated by our security lights. I was particularly concerned to try and protect the church because we have our Art Exhibition on at the moment. Also, the church doesn’t have the money to keep paying the excess on our insurance policy for repairs after every incident.”

Break-in damage at the church in Woodham

Around 8.30pm he saw a man with dark hair, about 20 years old, 5ft 10in, with slim build and a yellow draw-string bag over his shoulders.

“He started looking round for a stone, and I called the police. He couldn’t find a stone on the patio because I had earlier that day replaced the pebble border with gravel,” said the vigilant churchwarden. “I rang 999 and the man walked round the back of the church and returned with a stone. While I was on the phone to the police, he threw a stone which smashed the outer pane of one of our other patio doors. He then threw another stone which broke the glass of our church door.

“He stepped through the door into the church and then saw me in the room on the phone. I said ‘excuse me, I don’t think you should be in here’ and he jumped back through the broken door and ran off.

“I followed after him, giving directions to the police on the phone. He ran off down the woodland path beside the church, which leads to the Sands pub, but I didn’t have my torch with me and didn’t want to follow him through dark woodlands.”

The police arrived shortly after and took a statement, and arranged for the broken pane to be boarded up.

Niul Foat pictures, part of the art exhibition at All Saints

Thanks to Adrian’s quick actions, the art exhibition at All Saints – displaying the evocative oil landscapes and drawings of Richard Head and the vibrant abstracts of Niul Foat – remained open to visitors. The final day for viewing is Saturday 15 September, from 11am-5.30pm – entry is free and refreshments are available, with a guided tour of the church as well as part of Heritage Open Days. Visit www.allsaintswoodham.org.uk for details.

A WOKING mother of two has discovered at 42 a new talent for long jump, winning a gold medal in the British Masters Athletics Championships.

Kim Valente discovered an aptitude for long jump at the age of 42

Kim Valente claimed her medal at the Alexander Athletics Stadium, Birmingham, recently, having competed for the first time in long jump in the Southern Athletics League for Aldershot, Farnham  & District (AFD) in April this year when a teammate pulled out of the event at the last minute due to injury.

“It was just by chance that I was asked by our team manager to fill the spot,” says Kim. “I was a bit unsure, because I never did long jump before. But I did it, not expecting great results. To my surprise, I came second that day and earned our team seven points.”

Kim’s gold medal from the British Masters Athletics Championships

She said she wants to encourage other women of her age and older to continue to pursue their passion for their sport. Currently the UK has the largest veterans’ team with 250 set to compete in two weeks at the World Championship in Malaga, all self-funded, including their newest member, former Olympic sprinter Dwain Chambers.

“I am a wife of 14 years and a mother of two children and I know it can be difficult for women to juggle many jobs at once,” says Kim. “Athletics has given me a boost and the confidence to know that I can pursue my goals and passion at my age and beyond.”

For the full story, see the 13 September edition of the News & Mail