WITH demand for support from disadvantaged people still growing, Woking Foodbank has run out of several popular items.

It particularly needs donations of UHT milk, canned fruit, jars of pasta sauce, long-life fruit juice, crisps and long-life snacks for lunchboxes, washing detergent and long-life sponge puddings.

Volunteers at Woking Foodbank sorting through much needed supplies

Babies’ nappies in sizes 3 and 4 – which are asked for most – are also urgently needed.

A spokesman for the centre said: “We have been getting busier and busier with families and others needing food and the other essentials we supply.

“We had plenty of supplies after last year’s harvest festival and at the beginning of the year, but donations fall off at this time of year.”

Donations can be delivered to The Lightbox on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

The Waitrose stores at Goldsworth Park and West Byfleet, Asda at Sheerwater, Tesco at Brooklands and Sainsbury’s at Knaphill also accept donations.

For the full story get the 2 May edition of the News & Mail

THE HEARTFELT post: “I ruddy well did it!” barely disguises the elation of Woking mum Sarah Roberts who was inspired by her son Oscar to complete the London Marathon on Sunday, having only started running with the ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge just seven months earlier.

Sarah Roberts running the Virgin London Marathon for her son Oscar and the Down’s Syndrome Association

Sarah, a mother of three, took on the marathon challenge for Oscar, her youngest, who was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome when he was born six years ago. Completing the 26.2-mile course in five hours and 31 minutes she has raised almost £6,000 for the Down’s Syndrome Association.

The first to admit that she’s not a natural runner, Sarah has been upping her mileage week-by-week since September and on the day she said: “It was the most exhilarating, hardest, most emotional, brilliant thing I’ve ever done. I had so much support from my friends, family and even some ‘Don’t Be Sorry’ followers which literally picked me up on the way round.”

A jubilant Sarah with her 6 year old son Oscar

The social media supporters are among almost 40,000 who follow her blog Don’t Be Sorry, which she started when Oscar was eight months, sharing experiences online with others with similar experiences to hers.

Describing her London Marathon experience she said: “I’m so overwhelmed by all of the support from friends, family and our online community. Everyone’s been so generous with time, inspiration and money.”

She added: “I have never attempted anything this tough before, but I’ve actually really enjoyed the training and I’m hoping it gives other people hope, that if this sleep deprived, kind-a-chubby mum of three can do it… so can anyone!”

There’s still time to sponsor Sarah for her marathon efforts – visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahRoberts76

For the full story get the 2 May edition of the News & Mail

A GRIPPING drama, partly written especially for a Woking drama group by an EastEnders scriptwriter is coming to the Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

Burning the Witch has been adapted for the stage from acclaimed radio dramas, with a third act wrapping up the story.

Star Claire Racklyeft on the poster for Burning The Witch

The first act is based on This Repulsive Woman, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and written by Christopher Reason as a “rapid reaction play” inspired by the Shannon Matthews case in which a mother faked her daughter’s kidnap so she and her boyfriend could pocket the reward money.

The play features a character similar to Shannon’s mother Karen; a woman from a run-down estate who is vilified in the tabloid press for her crime.

The second, Every Child Matters, act looks at how social services deals with such cases and the mountain of similar events while being pushed and pulled by public opinion, the police and politicians.

Horsell Amateur Dramatic Society adapted both plays for drama festivals in Woking and Spelthorne, winning a host of awards.

Colin Orbaum, who directed both plays, persuaded Christopher, who has also written for Casualty, The Bill and Coronation Street as well as many radio plays, to write a third act, which ties up many of the loose ends from the other two.

The cast is led by Claire Racklyeft, who plays three characters; Debbie Hurst, the woman accused of exploiting her daughter for money; Joanne, the social worker on the case; and Patti, the social work manager.

Claire said she was looking forward to returning to the roles and also performing all three acts as a single play.

“This trilogy finally answers the questions and tells the story from each couple’s perspective forcing us to ask, ‘what is the truth and who is to blame’?”

Colin, who has worked hard over several years to bring the full play to the stage, said that This Repulsive Woman moved him and made a lasting impression.

“I especially appreciate the excellence of Christopher’s dialogue, which is witty and moving at the same time. It is a delight to work with. I also like the fact that he deals with themes of genuine social conscience.”

Burning the Witch will be performed at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking town centre from Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 (concessions £13). Book at www.horsellads.com (no booking fee) or by calling 01483 808354.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

A LUCKY guess won more than chocolate for one local family – they ended up with a brand-new tumble dryer as well.

Nick and Evone Purvis, along with their children Callum and Amy, received the appliance thanks to a winning guess in the charity event organised by RSM Domestic Appliances in Knaphill.

Nick and Evone Purvis with Amy and Callum, and Steve Haydon from RSM Domestic Appliances

All it took to enter was the donation of an Easter egg at their store in the High Street, allowing the family the chance to guess how many eggs were packed into the drum of the new Blomberg tumble-dryer.

“It’s a 10 kg machine, so it has the biggest drum you could get,” said Kirsty Haydon of RSM. “We managed to fit 255 eggs inside. Their guess was 256, just one out, which was the closest of all the entries by a long shot.”

The tumble-dryer was delivered and installed free of charge. The competition was the family firm’s way of boosting donations to Eagle Radio’s Egg Appeal, which collected chocolate eggs to share around more than 50 local charities and organisations, including Woking and Sam Beare Hospices, yourSanctuary and Woking Community Health Recovery Service.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

A WOKING mum who started the “Couch to 5K” challenge back in September, is taking on the London Marathon this weekend.

Sarah Roberts will run the 26.2 miles in aid of the Down’s Syndrome Association, and says her son Oscar is her inspiration.

Marathon mum Sarah Roberts wearing her official Down’s Syndrome Association running gear.

“It goes without saying I’m doing this for Oscar. But I’m also doing this for all the children and adults who happen to have Down’s syndrome and their families to raise awareness and show others that anyone of us can do anything, if we set our mind to it. If you see me, I’ll be the one at the back, shovelling as many jelly babies I can down my throat to get me through it!”

Sarah is keen to point out that she is not a natural runner, but has been upping her mileage week-by-week and was overjoyed when she found out she had secured a place on the Down’s Syndrome Association’s #Team21.

“My son Oscar is now six years old and when he was born, we found out he had Down’s syndrome. It came as a huge shock. I worried so much at first and I remember, when he was around 8 months old feeling this overwhelming need to write things down.

Sarah slows down to take a quick selfie while out training

“I started a blog which I named ‘Don’t Be Sorry’ – because I quickly realised there really was nothing to be sorry about – and I found sharing our experiences online was not only helping me but seemed to be reaching out to others too. Over the years our following across social media has grown and we now have close to 40,000 people following our story.”

Back in 2017, Sarah posted about asking the medical profession to use the word ‘chance’ instead of ‘risk’ when explaining the results of 12-week tests. The post generated almost 3,000 comments and more than 6,000 shares.

“I have never attempted anything this tough before, but I’ve actually really enjoyed the training and I’m hoping it gives other people hope, that if this sleep deprived, kinda chubby mum of three can do it… so can anyone!”

Sarah takes on the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 28th April and can be sponsored here.


For the full story get the 2 May edition of the News & Mail

WOKING could become home to Surrey County Council’s new headquarters, turning it into the county town.

On Tuesday, the county Cabinet will discuss a report calling for the council to move from Kingston by the end of next year. Woking and Guildford are the leading options for the new site.

The location for the WWF headquarters in Woking was considered for Surrey County Council’s HQ before the WWF moved in.

The move will involve establishing a “Civic Heart” where many of the functions of County Hall will be located.

The possible Woking site of the Civic Heart has not been revealed but is believed to include part or all of the police station/coroner’s court complex, Dukes Court, or one of the other town centre buildings not yet earmarked for redevelopment.

It is part of wider plans by the county council to save tens of millions of pounds by reducing the number of buildings the council uses from 300 to 100.

The report, by council leader Tim Oliver, states that staff will no longer all have to be in one central location but become an “agile workforce” with the majority “able to work anytime, anywhere, supported by the right technology.

“The adoption of an increasingly agile way of working for staff calls into question the place of the County Hall complex in Kingston, which, since county boundary changes in 1965, falls outside the administrative boundary of Surrey, no longer lends itself to supporting modern ways of working, and is costly to maintain.”

Over the past 54 years, several proposals have been made for the relocation of County Hall, with the Brewery Road car park, now the site of the WWF-UK headquarters, being raised at one point.

Cllr Oliver’s report said that one of the criteria for a Civic Heart would be “accessibility from across Surrey and from London, such as proximity to main road and rail networks.”

Would you like to see Woking become home to the Civic Heart? If so, where should it be located? Email editor@wokingnewsandmail.org.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

COUNTRYSIDE managers have renewed pleas for people not to do anything which could start a wildfire.

Their appeal follows a second serious fire this year on Chobham Common and other blazes on heathland during the recent hot weather.

Amateur photographer Lee Ridley took this photo of flames ripping into pine and birch trees during Friday’s fire on Chobham Common

Another 11 acres of heather and trees were destroyed at Chobham on Friday afternoon last week, following a 100-acre blaze on the national nature reserve at the end of March.

Heathland at Whitmore Common, Worplesdon, and Sheets Heath, Brookwood, has also gone up in flames in the past week, as a strong wind fanned flames in tinder-dry undergrowth.

Much of the heathland in the county is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust, whose estate manager asked the public to be extra careful in the countryside.

“The most important thing is that people don’t discard their cigarette ends,” Lee Thorton told the News & Mail. “We also ask that people don’t use barbecues or have any naked flames such as campfires on the heathland.

“Conditions are bad for wildlife at the moment in terms of creating fires. The conditions are so dry after a winter with little rain and there is still a lot of dead grass from last year on the ground.”

Anyone seeing smoke or someone who could be lighting a fire on heathland should immediately call the fire service on 999.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

WORK on the Sheerwater regeneration scheme is expected to start within a matter of weeks. Revised plans were approved, subject to conditions, at planning committee last week.

Council approved the release of £42 million for the first phase of the scheme.

A WALK IN THE PARK – Green space is at the heart of the Sheerwater regeneration

Cllr David Bittleston, leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Council agreed to the regeneration of Sheerwater in May 2013 and it has taken much longer than anticipated to get to the point of actually building something. 

“I would like to thank the residents of Sheerwater for their help in shaping these revised plans. I know for many it has been a worrying and frustrating time, but now that we have received the final green light, we can quickly get on with delivering this exciting project, which will provide better homes and better outcomes for the whole community.”

Cllr Bittleston continued: “My intention has always been to deliver the new sports and community facilities prior to building new homes, and last year, Council agreed the release of funds [£26 million] for the new swimming pool, leisure centre and 3G football pitch.

“Hopefully, terms will be agreed with Bishop David Brown School in the next couple of weeks so that work on this important part of the project can start in June.”

The Canalside project will create nearly 1,200 new homes, almost half of which will be affordable housing.  It is a 74-acre development of contemporary homes set within distinct neighbourhoods built around a large central parkland area – the development’s “green heart”.

A new community hub will provide amenities including shops, a doctors’ surgery, nursery and community centre, in addition to the new sports facilities.

The phased project is expected to take six years, completing in August 2025 if everything runs to schedule.

For more details on the regeneration of Sheerwater, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/sheerwater;  

For the full story, including details about the scheme, get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING’S firefighters are urging the public to sign a petition to halt plans which would see one fire engine with a crew of just four covering the borough at night.

They are also asking people to lobby their councillors and MP as part of a campaign against a reduction in night-time fire service cover across the county.

Local firefighters are worried that proposed cuts will lead to an increase in preventable deaths and injuries

The cuts are detailed in a Surrey Fire and Rescue Service proposal which would see seven whole-time appliances left un-crewed between 7am and 7pm. During this time, 23 engines would be available instead of the current 30.

The reorganisation – called Making Surrey Safer – plans for Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Spelthorne stations to each lose one of their two engines and single-appliance stations Egham, Painshill and Banstead to close completely at night.

The Surrey branch of the Fire Brigades Union is leading the campaign against the cuts, which it says will cause more preventable deaths and injuries and increase the time it takes to get fire crews to incidents.

“There may be fewer house fires than in the past, but 74% of all deaths in fires occur at night, when we need to maintain our cover for that reason alone,” the union’s Woking representative, Graham Whitfield, told the News & Mail.

“We are inviting councillors to come and meet us to find out why we think the cuts will be dangerous, for the public and firefighters.

“We are the troops on the ground and have to deal with members of the public when there is an emergency. If the councillors knew exactly what we do at incidents, then they might change their minds about the cuts.”

He asked the public to visit the station’s Facebook page to find the email addresses of councillors they should lobby and to sign the FBU petition at

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

A CHOBHAM student’s keen eye has landed him a car worth £68,000 – and £20,000 in cash.

Sam Shaw staked just £3.75 in a spot the ball competition to win an Audi SQ5 ABT sports utility vehicle.

Sam Shaw, parents Tim and Meirion and sister Caitlin with Christian Williams from BOTB and the surprise Audi

He heard that his prize was much more than a selection of Easter goodies when a team from a competitions website called at his home on Tuesday morning.

Sam, 23, who lives with his family in Sandpit Hall Road, won by picking the exact spot where the ball had been removed from a football match photograph.

“I’m staggered, I just don’t know what to say,” he said when told of his win. “I was expecting a hamper to be delivered and thought ‘oh well, at least that’s something’.”

The contest was run by BOTB – Best Of The Best – which offers a range of cars from family saloons to supercars such as McLaren Spiders as its weekly Dream Car prizes.

Sam, who is in his final year studying retail management and marketing at Loughborough University, has played the games before, but staking a modest 75p in the hope of winning a Golf GTI.

He intends to keep the Audi SUV, instead of accepting a cash alternative, and will probably offer the 2013 Golf TDI he drives now to his sister Caitlin, 21. The £20,000 will go a long way towards paying off his student loan.

View a video of Sam receiving his prize at www.botb.com/winners/dc1519.

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the Chobham News & Mail