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A YOUNG Woking man is hoping to launch his professional acting career after landing roles in three plays on the London stage.

Joseph Payne is in the National Youth Theatre REP season at the Criterion Theatre in the West End and the Southwark Playhouse. NYT is the UK’s leading youth arts organisation, whose alumni include Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matt Smith and Zawe Ashton.

Joseph Payne as a young Pip in Great Expectations

The NYT REP season was introduced seven years ago by the group’s artistic director Paul Roseby and past performers include Seraphina Beh (EastEnders, Top Boy), Sope Dirisu (Humans and Gangs of New York) and Alice Vilanculo, who won a Stage Edinburgh Award this year for her performance in E8.

Joseph, who lives in Horsell, is currently playing Pip, from a boy to adulthood, in Great Expectations at the Southwark Playhouse and towards the end of that run will appear in Frankenstein in the same theatre.

From 6 December, Joseph, 25, will move to the Criterion Theatre for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will run until 17 January next year.

He was born in Woking and played trumpet in bands with his two older brothers and performed in plays at Woking High School, where he was head boy, at Woking College and with Stageworks.

“I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was about 18,” Joseph said. “But I wasn’t sure how to go about it.” Joseph said.

He auditioned for the NYT summer course the following year and has been a member of the organisation for several years. The top age for the group is 25 and Joseph decided to audition for the REP season this year.

“There are four rounds of auditions – you have to prepare four monologues – and the final audition is in a theatre with the other auditionees.”

He said the experience of acting in REP is “a huge challenge, but very exciting and so much fun.”

REP was a key part of development for young professional actors in the past, with multiple roles in overlapping plays, requiring enormous concentration and energy.

Joseph hopes that agents and casting directors will be among the audiences seeing him perform in the three plays.

Joseph Payne is appearing at the Southwark Playhouse in Great Expectations until 28 November and Frankenstein from 25 October to 30 November and at the Criterion Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream from 6 December to 17 January.  For more information, see www.nyt.org.uk.

For the full story get the 7 November edition of the News & Mail

DRIVING rain meant the Woking Poppy Day proceedings had to take cover on Saturday, but the event was still a financial success for the borough’s annual remembrance appeal.

A ceremony and entertainment in Jubilee Square helped raised the profile of the borough’s Poppy Appeal, with £2,800 collected in and around the town centre during the event.

After their opening parade, British Airways Marching Band musicians sat down to entertain with another session of popular music

The wet weather on Saturday morning meant that members of Tracey Summerscales Dance Academy were unable to perform their displays in Jubilee Square. The remaining activities were transferred to the cover of Mercia Walk in the shopping centre.

Woking Poppy Appeal organiser John Stocker said he was delighted with the response of the public to the collectors, who included members of the Air Training Corps, Police Cadets and Sea Cadets.

Nadine Coates, wearing her Father’s army service medals, reads a poem

“The cadets were a great help and very enthusiastic,” he said. “They collected a lot of money for the appeal, with the sea cadets doing particularly well at the railway station.”

The Poppy Day event was opened by the British Airways Marching Band and there were also performances by Oatlands Pipe Band and Alder Valley Brass Band. The Exhortation – We Will Remember Them – was read at 11am, followed by a minute’s silence.

The Remembrance Sunday event in Woking commences at 10.15am, when a parade of uniformed units and organisations will march from the HG Wells Centre to the War Memorial in Jubilee Square. The service starts at 10.35am, concluding with a two-minute silence at 11am and the laying of wreaths. Afterwards, the uniformed units and organisations will march past the dignitaries in Church Street East.

For the full story get the 7 November edition of the News & Mail

THE moving of Surrey County Council headquarters to Woking has been widely praised – but a warning has been issued that the decision has not been finalised.

Last week the council announced that it has decided to move from Kingston, which has been part of Greater London since 1965, to the Midas House office block in Goldsworth Road.

A rear view of Midas House, which has an underground car park with spaces for around 160 spaces

However, Will Forster, who is chairman of the council’s Task Group responsible for scrutinising the move, said there was a lot of work to do before County Hall was sold and the headquarters moved to Woking.

Cllr Forster, who is county councillor for Woking South as well as borough councillor for Hoe Valley, said he was pleased at the planned move, which would be a good boost for the town’s economy and reputation.

Cllr Will Forster

“The council’s Task Group has not scrutinised the plans, so there is a lot of work to do before the County Council moves to Woking and sells County Hall.  These plans need scrutinising to ensure they are value for money.”

David Bittleston, Woking Borough Council leader, said: “It is fantastic news both for Woking and the wider county”.

He added: “The move will be a major boost for Woking, bringing further new and exciting economic opportunities, jobs and making the town busier and more vibrant.”

Paul Webster, from Woking Chamber of Commerce, also said the move would bring more jobs and people to Woking and “will be good for the retailers and good for business generally”.

For the full story get the 7 November edition of the News & Mail

THE Cards for Good Causes Christmas Card pop-up shop has opened at Christ Church in Woking town centre. 

Staffed by a team of local volunteers, the Woking pop-up shop is part of a network of more than 300 temporary shops run by Cards for Good Causes, the UK’s largest charity Christmas card organisation.

Left to right,  volunteers John Philips and Peter Saunsbury, shop manager Vivienne Allan, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, and Bob Rider

It represents more than 250 charities including the Friends of Woking Community Hospital, CICRA, for children with crohns and colitis, White Lodge and Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, including national groups such as Cancer Research UK, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, Alzheimer’s Society and RNLI.

The national charity has been going for 60 years, donating more than of £100 million to charities from card sales.

The Woking branch was opened last week by the Mayor, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks. It sells hundreds of different Christmas card designs, as well as traditional Advent calendars and candles, wrapping paper, gift tags, napkins and stocking fillers.

The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

BEREAVED families and friends have donated £148,000 to Woking & Sam Beare Hospices through a local funeral home.

Woking Funeral Service director James Ray said he noticed families preferred to ask for charity donations rather than receive flowers, and so set up a scheme to help the hospice through MuchLoved, a bereavement charity.

IN MEMORY – Phil Wormley, left, and James Ray in front of the Tree of Life in Woking Hospice, a sculpture where leaves are dedicated to loved ones

James said: “We’ve seen donations go from around £100 in a collection box at the end of a funeral service to £1,000 online.”

Woking Funeral Service has raised more than £250,000 for various charities since the scheme was started by the Funeral Partners network five years ago, with more than half going to the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices.

James said: “We always make sure families are aware of the MuchLoved service and many decide to use it. We promote it in the funeral order of service and also send the link for families to distribute to those who can’t attend the funeral.

“I’ve seen Woking & Sam Beare Hospices work relentlessly to improve the quality of life of those with life-limiting illnesses. It’s easy to see why we and so many of our families choose to support them.”

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

A DISPLAY of bras and outfits created by some of the country’s top fashion designers was held at the V&A Museum by the Woking breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.

The McLaren Grand Curves and Formula 1 bras

The selection of one-off bras worn by models at Walking Works of Art were created by the likes of Dame Zandra Rhodes, Julien Macdonald, Bruce Oldfield, Jeff Banks, Jimmy Choo and Lindy Hemming.

One was designed by Michael Condron, the artist who created the Martian tripod statue in Woking town centre. Another Woking link were the McLaren Grand Curves and Formula 1 bras sponsored by the racing team and sports car maker based on the edge of town.

Michael Condron’s War of the Worlds bra

Some were signed and inspired by celebrities such as the Olympic gold medal skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and the boxer Nicola Adams.

The occasion marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month and highlighted the achievements of grant-making breast cancer charity which has raised almost £133 million over the past 23 years. 

The event was hosted by TV and radio presenter Gaby Roslin, who has supported the charity for a number of years, most recently taking part in The MoonWalk London 2019.

Walk the Walk founder and chief executive Nina Barough said: “It was a pleasure to be able to exhibit some of our fabulous bras at the V&A.

Lorraine Kelly bra created by Barbour

“The bras are synonymous with Walk the Walk; it’s our trademark and it’s not often that we get the chance to show the collection we’ve had created by authors, sculptors, designers, artists, a real raft of people.

“It was wonderful to have such a lovely crew of make-up artists and models, stylists and choreographers all donating their time, because it meant something to them.”

The bras on display are part of Walk the Walk’s growing collection of decorated bras and will be on display at the headquarters of the 23rd MoonWalk London on Saturday 16 May 2020 at Clapham Common. The theme is Out of this World and participants, who must be 13 years old and over, can walk the Half Moon (15.1 miles) or the Full Moon (26.2 miles).

For more information, visit www.walkthewalk.org.

For the full story and more pictures, get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

IT WAS a night of fantastic fireworks and fiery feats at Chobham on Friday evening last week.

Chobham Rugby Club staged its annual pyrotechnics extravaganza, with the added attraction of brave souls fire walking for charity.

The hospice fire walk track blazes, as the fireworks night crowd looks on

More than 2,000 people were at the club’s ground in Fowlers Mead for the fireworks display, the 27th year it has been run there as a village event.

Before the sky was lit up, 27 people took on the challenge of a sponsored fire walk in aid of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. They have so far raised more than £2,600, with money still coming in and the proceeds of a bucket collection by volunteers on the night to be added.

The hospice charity staged its fifth annual fire walk in the lead up to the bonfire being lit. A 15ft tracks of logs was set alight and burned down to glowing embers before the fundraisers strutted swiftly along it.

John Jones swiftly tackles the foot-warming ordeal

“Before the walk started, Bonnie Parker from Twisted Entertainment performed an amazing fire show,” hospice communications officer Marie Howse. “The bonfire was lit for the perfect backdrop for the shortest, hottest sponsored walk.

“A cheering crowd encouraged the walkers as they all completed their challenge of strolling over the hot embers. “A special thanks to Chobham Rugby Club for letting us be a part of their fireworks extravaganza.”

Woking & Sam Beare Hospices has a variety of fundraising events planned for the rest of the year, from a silent disco at Kingfield School on Saturday to its annual Santa Run on Sunday 1 December.

For more information on how you can help raise money for the charity, visit the events section of www.wsbhospices.co.uk.

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

THE vital importance of a ballet gala to raise funds to help a four-year-old disabled Woking boy receive specialist medical treatment in the USA has been terrifyingly brought home to his family once again.

Dexter Summerscales-Heard was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, suffers with epilepsy, is unable to speak and is fully reliant on his wheelchair and family to assist his daily activities.

Laurretta Summerscales and her husband Yonah Acosta with their nephew Dexter at Waverley Abbey House  Picture by Nigel Norrington

Nor is Dexter able to eat orally. Doctors found that his swallowing function was diverting food into his lungs, instead of his stomach – posing a critical threat of respiratory failure.  Doctors have said he could even drown in his own saliva.

Determined to help Dexter, the youngster’s aunt and uncle, international principal ballet dancers Laurretta Summerscales and her husband Yonah Acosta – who live in Kingfield, near Dexter and his family – have put together a gala, Dancing for a Dream.

The gala will be held at the New Victoria Theatre on Sunday 10 November and features some of the world’s top dancers, including principals and soloists from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich.

Lauretta and Yonah in full costume with Dexter

“It is so important we get this money,” said Lauretta, “and we’ve just had another reminder why. The other day Dexter had to go to A&E. There was a scare that he had pneumonia and his sats (oxygen levels) were dangerously low.

“This was caused by him simply having a cold, which causes, as in all of us, extra saliva and mucus, which he was swallowing into his lungs. In turn, this was making it extremely difficult for him to breathe.

“It highlighted the very fact that this isn’t just to get him eating again, but to try and make having a basic cold not become life-threatening for him.

“We’ve sold about 900 tickets but have still got about 400 to go. To fill the theatre would be amazing.”

“Our only hope is to secure significant funding, which will allow Dexter to travel to a specialist centre in the USA, called NAPA, where he can undergo the treatment,” Laurretta added.

She aims to raise £30,000, which would pay for two visits to NAPA, including flights and accommodation. “Dexter has a place booked at NAPA for 25 January for three weeks, so we have to get the funds.

“We also have items that have been donated from such wonderful dancers as Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nunez, Alina Cojocaru, Roberto Bolle, Vadim Muntagirov, as well as tickets for Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet. They are being auctioned until the day after the gala at www.jumblebee.co.uk/dancingforadream.”

To buy tickets for the gala, please visit www.atgtickets.com/woking or call on 08448717645.

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail.

TRICK or treaters will encounter an unusual monster when they call at the home of the Saunders family in Bisley tonight.

The multi-coloured creature by their front door in Marigold Drive is made from litter collected on roadsides around the village.

The Bisley Litter Monster made by the Saunders family

Dad Mark and children Ellie, 8, and George, 5, created the beast to raise awareness of the amount or rubbish left by litterbugs in Bisley. It is constructed mainly of drink cans, with plastic coffee cup lids as antennas.

“We are displaying the Bisley Litter Monster on Halloween to highlight the ‘horror’ of littering to everyone who’s out trick or treating. We usually get around 100 kids at the door on Halloween night.”

The family have taken part in organised litter picks and have also taken part in beach clean-ups at Southsea and Brighton. It’s worrying that Keep Britain Tidy released some research that showed approximately 2.9 million small mammals die every year due to getting trapped in littered cans and bottles,” added Mark.

After the monster has done its job of raising awareness of the amount of litter dropped around Bisley the components will be put in the household recycling bin.

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

THERE’S definitely something spooky in the air this Halloween, when several pubs in the area will be casting a spell to turn pumpkins into pints – or a variety of other drinks, depending on your tipple.

A Halloween punter offers that spookiest of vegetables in exchange for a frightfully well poured pint

Greene King pubs are operating the unusual currency on 31 October. All Halloween-lovers have to do to claim their spook-tacular freebie is swap the seasonal veg at the bar and they’ll receive a drink on the house.

“With Halloween here, we wanted to help locals get into the spooky spirit,” said a Greene King spokesman. “We know everyone loves a freebie and what better way to celebrate Halloween than to treat, not trick, our customers with our pumpkin pay offer.

“We look forward to welcoming locals to the pub for a fright-fully good drink, on the house.”

Greene King pubs in the area include The Surrey in St John’s, Black Prince in New Haw and Royal Oak in Pirbright, as well as The Twynersh in Chertsey.

The range of drinks includes wines, cask ales, beers and soft drinks. Redemption is limited to one drink per person, subject to availability, and full terms and conditions can be found at www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pumpkin-pay

See the full story in the 31 October edition of the News & Mail