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A WOKING artist has been named a winner in the Liberty of London Open Call competition, looking for the next big artistic talent in the UK.

Emma Hill was one of four winners, her abstract painting picked out from more than 5,100 entries.

“I saw an instagram post for the Liberty Open Call and submitted immediately with an abstract painting I had finished the night before: Graffiti Summer,” said Emma.

Emma Hill in front of her graffiti inspired painting

She describes her work as “raw, self-expressive and contemporary, blurring the lines between impressionism and graffiti”.

Some weeks after submitting her entry, Emma was informed that she was one of twelve artists who had been shortlisted.

“I was both delighted and shocked to hear that I had been shortlisted from such a large number of entries around the country,” she said. “Then when I was told that I was one of the four winning entries, I had to pinch myself, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t have wished for a better Christmas present.”

Emma has a BA in Art History and Scandinavian Studies. With no practical training she considers herself self-taught. She feels her creative journey began when she worked as cabin crew travelling the world with British Airways.

Married with two daughters, who she calls her “greatest influence and hardest critics”, Emma also works as an art instructor at Arthouse Unlimited, a Godalming- based charity working with artists living with complex epilepsy and learning difficulties.


“Mostly, I am inspired by nature: its repeat in pattern, the colours and changes of the seasons, but predominantly, I am intrigued and fascinated by the sea and the sky.”

Later this month, Emma and the other winners will visit Liberty’s London store to work with designers to turn the winning artworks into iconic Liberty fabric. In February, they will visit the company’s printing mill in Milan, Italy to see the fabrics being printed.

Each of the winners will receive their winning fabric designs which will also be documented in Liberty’s historical archives. All of the winning designs will be available to purchase in-store or on-line in May.

“Being a winner in the Liberty Open Call has given me a huge boost. It gives me the opportunity to share my work on a larger platform and I am looking forward to taking my art to another level: pushing the boundaries and possibilities of my artwork even further,” she said.

For more of Emma’s work, visit her website www.emmahill.co.uk.

FOR most of us, Sunday was a dull, grey, ordinary day in early January, but not for the thousands of local football fans who converged on Kingfield in Woking.

Fans in the Kingfield Road End stand get into good voice before kick-off

Their weekend was brightened up by the prospect of their team gaining glory against a side from 101 places above them in the English leagues pyramid.

Woking, from the semi-professional National League South, were playing highly talented professionals Watford, of the Premier League, in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Craig, Ben and Dean with kids George, Harrison, Jayden, Archit, Aiden and Caelan

The prize for victory could be a match against one of the nation’s leading teams vying for a Champions League place next season – Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester United.

Woking – The Cards – were the lowest-placed non-League team to make it to the third round of the cup competition. And they had a good record of holding Premier League teams to account in the past, with notable performances against West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and Everton.

Woking fans prepare for the big match

A win against Watford was not to be, but Woking made their opponents work hard for their 2-0 result.

More than 5,700 Woking and Watford supporters packed into The Laithwaite Community Stadium. Whether their side won or lost, the majority went home smiling.

See special feature of supporters’ pictures in the 10 January edition of the News & Mail.

A RELAXED and jokey Alan “Dowse” Dowson faced national and local media at a press conference two days before the biggest game of his managerial career when his Woking FC will play Watford in the FA Cup.

The manager gave little away about his team’s tactics for Sunday, other than to admit that the season’s top goal scorer, Max Kretzschmar, was unlikely to play because of injury and that the team would continue with its attacking brand of football.

Facing the press ahead of Sunday’s big game. Picture: Kirsten Lee

If Dowse was feeling any pressure, he didn’t show it, remarking that his FA Cup record as a player and manager had been “absolutely hopeless – until now.”

Assistant manager Ian Dyer said there had not been a lot of opportunity for the team to train specifically for the FA Cup tie, having had four matches in 10 days. He said the previous evening’s training session had been a little strange as the coaches and players had to dodge the TV cameras.

“I’ve told the players that I want them to compete and enjoy it, and they will only enjoy it if they compete,” he said.  

Dyer added the team would use the inspiration of a packed stadium and the success against Swindon Town in the previous round to push them on.

“The players have got us here – it’s their day.”

While acknowledging the importance of the game on Sunday, Dowson downplayed the success so far, pointing to the achievements of past players and coaches at Woking and said that Sunday was a chance for the current crop to put their mark on the club’s history.

Assistant manager Ian Dyer, manager Alan Dowson, assistant manager Martin Tyler and Woking FC chairman Rosemary Johnson. Picture: Kirsten Lee

Woking’s story has certainly attracted a lot of attention. The club chaplain, Ian Nicholson, introduced Dowson and his two assistant managers to a press room swelled by several national newspaper reporters and BBC TV and radio camera crew.

“We usually have one person at these press conferences, with sometimes one or two extras,” he said.

Assistant manager and Sky commentator Martin Tyler described the Watford match as the game of a lifetime for Woking and a very special day for him, having seen his first Woking game when he was 8 years old.

See next week’s News & Mail for full coverage of Woking’s big day.

Inspector slams fire brigade’s 999 cover

"We have concerns about Surrey Fire & Rescue Service keeping people safe and secure" says report

WARNINGS from Surrey firefighters that their brigade’s emergency cover is inadequate have been borne out by a government inspector’s report.

The county Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branch said in August that Surrey Fire and Rescue Service had suffered too many cuts to operate effectively.

Now the findings of an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services supports the union’s claims.

VITAL SERVICE – Several fire crews were sent to tackle a blaze which destroyed a derelict farmhouse at Old Woking last summer

“We have concerns about the performance of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure,” an inspector’s report says. “In particular, we have serious concerns about the service’s effectiveness and efficiency.”

The report, released at the end of December, continues: “It relies on overtime working to keep fire engines available. This is not sustainable financially and could put crew members and the public at risk.”

The criticism comes at a time when it is common for six or seven of the brigade’s 30 first-attendance fire engines to be unavailable due to staff shortages. The FBU says 168 full-time firefighters have been lost since 2010.

The union’s Surrey secretary, Lee Belsten, told the News & Mail in August: “The service is running on the goodwill of its firefighters and their willingness to do overtime to keep stations available.”

Stations such as Woking, Guildford and Camberley which have two front-line fire engines constantly find they have enough firefighters to crew just one appliance. Other stations, including Staines, Walton and Painshill are often closed because they are short of crew members.

The report also says: “The service requires improvement in the way it responds to fires and other emergencies. It has reduced its workforce over time but has not adjusted its way of working accordingly.”

There is concern the brigade does not have a plan to ensure it can go on providing services in the way it does now, as it continues to make budget cuts required by Surrey County Council up to 2021.

For the full story, get the News & Mail 3 January edition.

MORE than 130 people were stopped and searched by police at Woking railway station after possible signs of drugs were found by sniffer dogs.

Nine arrests were made during Operation Barricade last week. Four weapons were seized, eight people were given warnings over drugs and four were reported for summons to appear in court. Stolen property worth £300 was recovered.

The five-day Operation Barricade was an initiative led by Detective Inspector Andrew Greaves, the Woking Borough Commander, into one of the greatest scourges in the area.

Police officers and a sniffer dog on patrol at Woking rail station as part of Operation Barricade

Det Insp Greaves, who took over the role last summer, said that tackling drug supply and its associated violence, was his main priority.

He said drug dealing and consumption had various knock-on effects, from violence between dealers to burglaries by drug users to fund their habit.

“A smartly dressed gentleman walked past our dog on the station platform during Operation Barricade and said words to the effect of ‘why aren’t you out catching burglars?’ If I had been able to go up and talk to him, I would have explained how drug dealing and crimes such as burglaries are linked,” Det Insp Greaves said.

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

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. “

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.

VOLUNTEERS who patrol the streets of Woking late at night looking out for vulnerable people have a new uniform to keep them warm and dry.

Members of Woking Street Angels are wearing new jackets and fleeces bought with a donation from the Tesco Bags for Help scheme.

The Street Angels are trained volunteers who have been keeping watch in the town centre from 10pm until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights for the past eight years.

Tesco Bags of Help community enabler Jennifer Rose with one of the new Street Angels jackets. Those pictured also include Street Angels co-ordinator Lucy Chester (first right), Cllr Beryl Hunwicks (third left), borough council Head of Community Safety Camilla Edmiston (third right), PCSO Mark Trappitt and Street Angels trustees

They work closely with the police, borough council, door staff and medical services to help people with problems such as those caused by drinking too much.

“We ensure night-time visitors have a pleasant and safe experience in our town,” said the group’s co-ordinator, Lucy Chester.

“There was a great need for the angels to have some new jackets and fleeces to ensure they are kept warm and dry, especially through autumn and winter. Tesco kindly included Woking Street Angels in their Bags for Help, scheme which has funded 20 new jackets and fleeces.

Police community support officer Mark Trippett added: “The Street Angels play a big part in helping vulnerable people in Woking and ease the pressure on the police during the hours they’re on duty.”

Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, said: “The Street Angels have made a considerable difference and are unsung heroes. It’s wonderful that Tesco have provided them with the new kit.”

If you would like to volunteer to patrol with Woking Street Angels for at least one night a month, contact Lucy by email on wokingstreetangels@gmail.com or call 07827 914714.

THE people of Woking should do more to tackle the problem of homelessness says the Mayor, after a study revealed that the borough has the highest number of rough sleepers in Surrey.

A report by the charity Shelter found that Woking had the second highest number of people classified as homeless across the county. There were 384 people in temporary accommodation and 18 sleeping rough in the borough, compared with figures of 460 and three for Epsom and Ewell.

Woking was placed 11th in the South East for the number of homeless, with Reigate and Banstead the next highest Surrey area at 18th. Surrey Heath was 48th with 101 homeless people and Guildford 50th with 146.

Mayor and Mayoress of Woking, Cllr Will Forster and Hannah Thompson, on a sponsored sleep-out to raise funds for the York Road Project earlier this year

“It is an absolute disgrace that vulnerable people have been left without a roof over their head and shameful that in one of the richest counties in one of the richest countries in the world, we have so many people sleeping rough and homeless,” said Woking Mayor, Cllr Will Forster.

He said the report reinforced the reasons he chose the York Road Project as his Mayoral Charity and hoped businesses and residents would back his efforts to raise money for the local homeless organisation.

“Whether it is donating some money, food or clothes, or giving up time and using their skills, everyone can play their part in ending homelessness in Woking,” he said.

The figures were for the first quarter of this year and showed a 4% increase in the number of homeless across the country compared with the second quarter of last year.

Across Surrey, there were more than 2,300 homeless people, including 2,240 in temporary accommodation and more than 60 sleeping on the streets.

Cherisse Dealtry, deputy chief executive of the York Road Project, said homelessness was on the rise and often people concentrated on it being just about rough sleepers at this time of the year.

“It’s a problem the whole year and can touch anyone. If you don’t have work and don’t get paid, then you can lose your home,” she said. “You can be just two pay cheques from homelessness.”