TWO of the bravest men in Woking made a special appearance at the Christmas Lights Switch-On in the town centre when they appeared in front of thousands of people as panto dames.

Adam Platt and Tobias Kilty had been nominated by friends and family to be fully made over and each won tickets for their families tickets to see Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre.

Adam Platt, far left, and Tobias Kilty wow the crowds as panto dames with two professional actors who entertained the crowds. Picture by Paul Stott

They met Paul Chuckle, who will play Baron Hardup in the panto and turned on the lights in Jubilee Square. They also appeared with two professional Wicked Stepsister actors.

“Winning the competition made my whole year. I don’t usually like Christmas but the staff and people at Woking Shopping are amazing,” said Tobias.

“Meeting Paul Chuckle was incredible – such a kind and funny childhood hero. I would happily do this over and over again – in fact I now want to entertain, as it was the best night ever and I didn’t want it to end.”

TV comedy star Paul Chuckle turns on the Woking Christmas lights assisted by Eagle FM DJ Simon Rose as Buttons from Cinderella. Picture by Andy Newbold

The afternoon of entertainment before the big switch-on included performances from children at Brookwood Primary School and West Byfleet Infant and Junior School, Summerscales dancers and Woking Rock Choir.

See a special spread of the event in the 29 November edition of the News & Mail

A WOKING man who was helped to stand and begin to communicate again by the White Lodge Centre after suffering massive brain damage in a car accident is asking local people to help to raise £24,000 for the disability charity.

Stewart Newman suffered horrific head injuries in October 2007 when he lost control of his car which hit an oncoming lorry.

“I can’t remember a thing but somehow I survived. However, the violent side-to-side wrenching of my head cause irreparable brain damage. I was only 25,” Stewart explained to the News & Mail.

“My family were told I would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of my life.

“I spent the next two months in a semi-induced coma and was later transferred to the Royal Hospital for Neuro Disability in Putney where I remained for five years.

“Despite my permanent brain damage, parts of my brain started to slowly come back to life. I became aware of the world around me but frustratingly I couldn’t move, I only had use of my right arm and I couldn’t even talk.”

APPEAL – Stewart with his brothers, from left, Mark, Matt and Scott

Stewart went back home, which has been adapted to his needs and a live-in carer was engaged.

A short while later his mum Lynne arranged for Stewart to attend Rendezvous, the White Lodge adults centre at Chertsey, and after several years of therapy, he was recently able to stand for the first time since the car accident.

“It was amazing and I felt so happy. I can now talk a few words and can spell out words using my hand. Even though it’s broken, my brain is still amazing and what I have never lost, is the ability to smile,” Stewart wrote.

The therapy has included massage, hydrotherapy and gentle exercise of all my limbs by a team led by Sarah Norman.

“They have been my saviour. They keep pushing me to get better and the social element of my visits is so good for me.”

Mum Lynne said: “Without White Lodge we would be on our own. Stewart’s lovable spirit has never died, and he keeps us going through his positive attitude. I am so proud of Stew and so grateful to his live-in carers who have become adopted family members, and the team at White Lodge – they are all extraordinary.”

STEWART and his family are urging local people to help White Lodge raise £24,000 through the Big Give Christmas Challenge, which matches fundraising for charities for a week shortly before Christmas. The Big Give runs from Tuesday 27 November until noon on 4 December. White Lodge spokesman Claire Brown said the charity took part in the initiative last year and raised £6,000, which was turned into £12,000. This year it hoped to double these figures and the money would help to fill the big deficit in adult therapy. The charity will put a banner on its website, www.whitelodgecentre.co.uk from which donations can be made and there is more information at www.thebiggive.org.uk/christmas-challenge.

FIFTEEN people were arrested on suspicion of drug dealing following a series of dawn raids around Woking on Wednesday.

More than 100 police officers carried out 13 warrants at a number of properties suspected to be involved in the supply of Class A drugs.

Surrey police officers in action

“The warrants that took place have come about following months of proactive and investigative work by a dedicated team working to disrupt dangerous and violent drugs groups in Woking,” said Detective Inspector Andy Greaves, Woking Borough Commander.

“We are working hard to eradicate this problem but we can’t do this without the help of the public so I am asking you to help and report tangible information on drug dealing in your area.

“Our investigation into these individuals will continue while we carry out searches in the area as well proactive patrols.”

For more details, see the 29 November edition of the News & Mail

RECORD numbers of residents turned out on a damp Armistice Day in Jubilee Square, Woking, and at services across the borough. The annual service of remembrance for all those who have died in conflicts was particularly poignant as it occurred 100 years to the day from the end of the First World War.

Woking 2018 Remembrance Sunday

Jubilee Square was packed for Woking’s special Remembrance commemorations on Sunday.

The open space, with the war memorial at its centre, was more crowded than in previous years during the annual parade and wreath-laying service.

It was a poignant occasion, with Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday falling on the same day as the 100th anniversary of the First World War ceasefire.


Schoolchildren pay tributes in Knaphill 

MORE than 100 people attended a remembrance service organised by the four main churches in Knaphill.

The annual service was held on Saturday last week to avoid clashing with the many events in and around Woking on Armistice Day.

The Anglican, Catholic, Baptist and Methodist churches in the village all took part, leading various sections of the service.

Children from schools in the village read up about the men from their area who had been killed in conflict

It also included St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary School and Knaphill Junior School, with pupils composing and reading poems and prayers of peace.




Byfleet residents honour their memorial 

THE clothes worn by those attending were less formal and it was sunny and not raining, but the scenes around Byfleet War Memorial on Sunday mirrored those of 90 years ago when the monument was dedicated.

The News & Mail’s Bob Holmes was able to picture the village’s Remembrance gathering from the location where the 1928 commemoration was photographed.

Alfred Vice, the guest of honour for the event. He served in the RAF’s 166 Squadron during the Second World War and flew 35 operations over Germany as a navigator in Lancaster bombers

Bob was positioned at a window in the home of Mary McIntyre, which overlooked the memorial when it was the centre of the local festival for the first time, also on Sunday 11 November.

The 1928 photograph is from the archives of Byfleet Heritage Society. Its chairman, Jim Allen, put Bob in touch with Mary so that he could take his historic picture of the gathering 100 years after the First World War armistice was signed.

For the full report and picture special, see the 15 November edition of the News & Mail

A SECOND referendum on the UK’s exit deal with the European Union would be virtually impossible to arrange, says the MP for Woking.

Jonathan Lord said on Saturday that there was not enough parliamentary time to pass the legislation required for a People’s Vote.

Woking MP Jonathan Lord speaking at the Brexit discussion organised by the Woking Debates committee


Mr Lord was speaking at a special discussion on Brexit organised by the Woking Debates committee, held at Christ Church in the town centre.

“A second referendum would be even more divisive and split the country even more than the first,” he told an audience of more than 40 people. “A lot of people having been told by the party leaders that it’s the sole decision of the people; a second vote would be very problematical.”

He defended his decision to support the leave camp despite Woking voting 56% remain, 44% leave. He had been very straight with constituents at last year’s General Election and was re-elected.

Mr Lord said he generally supported Theresa May’s attempt to negotiate her “Chequers Agreement” deal with the EU.

If this failed, he preferred a Canada Plus Plus Plus deal – a free trade agreement which removes 95.5% of tariffs and gives access to the EU single market, complying with the union’s rules on products but without the requirement to contribute to the EU budget.

See the 15 November edition of the News & Mail for the full story

A 12-YEAR-OLD boy helped to prevent more injuries at a funfair in Woking Park on Saturday when he raised the alarm after he and a number of other children fell from a crowded inflatable slide.

Ehsan Anwar-Khan, of Old Woking, had tried to stop his brother Raif, 10, from falling from the top of the 30ft slide but fell with him, hitting his head. Ehsan ran to alert his father, Naveed, who was standing at the front of the slide and children were prevented from climbing up the structure.

The boys were among eight children who were treated in hospital at the incident at the Bonfire Night fireworks and funfair.


Emergency services arriving at the funfair on Saturday night

The boys’ mother, Nahdia Akbar, a GP, arrived at the fairground shortly after the incident after taking her parents shopping.

She said there were numerous paramedics treating injured children.

“They were amazing – I can’t say thank you enough,” Nahdia said.

She said her sons told her that they had been on the slide four or five times without incident when suddenly there seemed to be a large number of children on the inflatable.

“My youngest said he felt it was giving way and felt wind blowing on him.”

Nahdia said she hoped that regulations concerning fairground inflatables would be tightened. She said that the injured children should be getting support for post-trauma: “Physical injuries heal, but mental injuries take a lot longer.”

For the full story and pictures from the night, see the 8 November edition of the News & Mail

EIGHT children were rushed to hospital after disaster struck at the funfair that was part of the fireworks display at Woking Park on Saturday evening.

An inflatable slide collapsed and police evacuated the event to allow air ambulance to land in the park.

“Our clinicians have treated children on scene for potentially serious injuries,” said an ambulance service spokesman. “Along with our colleagues at the air ambulance, our crews are transporting the patients to major trauma centres in London.”

Woking Park was closed to the public on Sunday morning, with the deflated slide sectioned off by police tape pending further investigations.

Surrey Police declared a major incident following the injuries: “We worked with the organisers of the event to evacuate the site, in order to allow the emergency services to do their work, and to allow the air ambulance to land.

“We are grateful to the public of Woking for their understanding and assistance in quickly evacuating the scene,” said a police spokesman.

“We are pleased to update that seven of the eight victims were discharged overnight. The eighth victim was kept in overnight for observations, but his injuries are not thought to be significant.

“The Health and Safety Executive have been informed. We are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident, or has video or photographic footage of what happened, to make contact with Surrey Police via 101, or surrey.police.uk/ReportIt, quoting reference PR/P18262524.”

Social media was full of messages of support for the injured children and their families, and also praised the event organisers for the quick and calm evacuation of the site which saw the planned firework display cancelled.

For the full report, pictures and reactions, see the 8 November edition of the News & Mail

THE annual Woking Poppy Appeal has had an influx of volunteer collectors, thanks to the News & Mail, says organiser John Stocker.

“I now have 87 people who have volunteered and really appreciate the coverage you have given to the need for more,” John said.

Poppy Appeal Collectors, Cadets from 1349 (Woking) Squadron. L to R: Cadet Corporal McConachie, Cadet Baker, Cadet Corporal Hallam and Cadet Leslie.

About 30 more volunteers are needed for the appeal that started on Saturday 27 October.

John is hoping to raise around £25,000 for the Royal British Legion this year, after the total fell by about £6,000 last year.

The money raised in Woking will contribute to the £1.5 million that is hoped will be collected in Surrey as part of an ambitious £50 million national target.

The need for volunteer collectors is greatest between 1pm and 4pm at the sites at Sainsbury’s in Brookwood, Morrisons, near the town centre, and at the railway station.

If you think you can help, call John Stocker on 07748 545453 or email wokingpoppyappeal@gmail.com.

THE landscape and skyline of Woking are changing – but not as quickly as many people imagine, council leader David Bittleston has told the Woking News & Mail.

Cllr Bittleston was responding to concerns by some residents that a host of tower blocks will go up in the town centre over the next few years, with constant disruption caused by the construction.

He said that several of the mooted new buildings hadn’t yet been considered for approval because it took developers some time to raise the necessary funds and put together agreements with construction companies.

RISING HIGH – Tower blocks in Victoria Square

Cllr Bittleston said the three-tower Victoria Square development was due to be completed in about two years from now. The next most likely building to go up is 34-storey apartments towner and next-door five-storey office block on the site of Concord House on the corner of Church Street East and Christchurch Way. The plans have not yet been approved and many objections have been sent to the council by local residents. Of the buildings do receive planning permission, Cllr Bittleston said, construction would be unlikely to start before 2021/22.

“Three towers in Goldsworoth Road were given planning permission three years ago but nothing has happened,” he said. “If you look at Victoria Square, that took us 10 years to get started.”

Cllr Bittleston said the roadworks in the town centre added to the impression of disruption caused by construction, but the council had taken the opportunity, with funds from central government, to improve the road infrastructure at the same time as changes to road layout during the construction of Victoria Square.

He said that another misconception was that the shops and flats on Guildford Road were to be demolished soon. The plans were part of a £75 million Housing Infrastructure (Hif) bid to the government which would involve the widening of Victoria Arch and Guildford Road.

Cllr Bittleston said the work on the arch could also include work on the railway line, which would increase rail capacity.

“It’s way into distance,” he said. “We are in final stage of the bid process. Even if we get the Hif money, the work would be three to four years from starting.”

Cllr Bittleston said that the council was required to replace flats, offices and shops that it demolished for developments.

THREE masked robbers terrorised an elderly Kingfield woman, stealing £4,000 in jewellery and cash, after ransacking rooms. One of the robbers kept the victim captive while the other two searched for goods to steal and they sprayed bleach around the house to destroy potential forensic evidence, damaging the victim’s clothes and carpets.

The robbery happened last Tuesday (9 October) between 12.15pm and 12.45pm at a house in Kingfield Road, not far from Loop Road where 84-year-old Joyce Burgess was attacked by a robber at her home in July and later died in hospital.

Do you know this man ? A police e-fit of one of the raiders

Surrey Police said that the three robbers entered the house via the back door “before two men conducted untidy searches of the upstairs rooms. The third man remained with the homeowner, escorting her to a downstairs room”.

The robbers are white with one aged about 40, 5ft 8in tall and wore a white jacket, a green and white striped top and white trousers. The other two are aged around 25 to 28 and wore dark clothes.

Detective Constable Tony Gravener, of West Surrey CID, said: “These callous men used deceptive tactics to gain entry to an elderly person’s home, by ringing the doorbell to distract the occupant and enter through the back door.

“If you recognise the man in the e-fit, or live on or near Kingfield Road and have CCTV outside your home, we’d like to hear from you.

“We believe this is an isolated incident, but advise residents to remain vigilant.”

If you recognise the man, or you live nearby and have CCTV outside your home which could assist officers, call 101, quoting crime reference PR/45180108013 or report online at www.surrey.police.uk or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.