Other News

WOKING Youth Theatre – whose former members include stars of films and TV programmes such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Victoria and The Crown – is being revived after it closed nearly 15 years ago.

A group of former young WYT performers, led by Bruce Hazelton, is relaunching the weekly workshops run by professional actors and teachers.

Two generations of WYT. From left, Bruce, Juliet and Alex Hazelton with Max Harris and Emma Brewer

Many of the former WYT members have gone on to great success on stage and screen, including Anna Wilson Jones (Victoria), Dermot Keaney (Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3), Victoria Hamilton (The Crown, Doctor Foster), Sam Underwood (Homeland), and Abbie Osmon (We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia).

Bruce said: “We are very excited to get WYT up and running again. It’s a huge responsibility to step into David’s shoes but we have so many talented ex members, willing to impart their knowledge; in acting, singing, dance, stage management, production, costume design and other things”.

He said he wanted to continue the late founder David Hawksworth’s vision of providing a safe environment for children to “have a laugh and put on a play”.

“David wanted it to continue to be earthy and not artsy fartsy; somewhere where the kids can be themselves.”

Founder of WYT David Hawksworth who passed away in 2015

Bruce and the others setting up the revived WYT, including David Hawksworth’s daughters Sarah Tubb and Catherine Lake, have spent the past year finding a venue and setting up the group as a charity.

He said he hoped that the first show from the new WYT would be performed next year, hopefully at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

A web designer by trade, Bruce was heavily involved in setting up the News & Mail when this paper relaunched in 2011.

For the full story and details on how to get involved with WYT, pick up the 7 March edition of the News & Mail

A TEAM of around 60 children, teachers and parents from Knaphill School and Knaphill Lower School are taking part in the Surrey Half Marathon on Sunday to raise money to buy defibrillators.

The organiser is Mandy Walsh, who has children in both schools, and who will taking part in her second Surrey Half Marathon.

A group of the Knaphill Schools runners who have been using the Woking Junior Parkrun on Sunday mornings at Woking Park as part of their training

Mandy said the idea came after one of the parents and a teacher went on a first aid course and decided that the schools needed to have a defibrillator.

The runners hope to raise enough money to buy two of the lifesaving devices, which can cost around £1,000 each, so that both schools can have them installed.

Many said that nearly 30 children and more than 20 adults had agreed to take part, although some had dropped out because of injury.

“For a lot of them, this will be their first half marathon. A few are running the 5K, which will be the first time they have run for anything, except for the bus,” she said.

About 15 Lower School children, aged 6 and 7 will be taking part in the 2K kids’ race.

“It’s quite a distance for them. The kids are having their own training sessions in the playground and a few of the adults are training together.”

Donations to support the runners can be made at www.justgiving.com/knaphillschools

THE annual Woking Shopmobility pancake race was won by the marketing team from Woking Borough Council on a crisp but dry day.

RETURNING CHAMPION: Woking FC mascot K.C. Cat tries for a second year running as fastest mascot

They finished ahead of Fidessa, from the town centre-based recruitment company, with Seafarers, more used to serving fish and chips, coming third.

A shortage of entrants led Shopmobility to enter a team at the last minute.

“We had fun, but didn’t win our heat,” said the charity’s Joyce Browning.

Despite the slight drop in the number of competitors, there was a good crowd of spectators for the 24th pancake race in Jubilee Square, and the 12th run by the charity that hires out mobility scooters, powered and manual wheelchairs to help shoppers in the town centre.

For the full story and picture feature get the 7 March edition of the News & Mail.

CRITICALLY ill patients will be more comfortable during their hospital stay thanks to the efforts of a Byfleet-based dance school.

Susan Robinson School of Ballet raised £12,000 for a special intensive care unit bed at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

BED BOOST- Cedric Jones (centre) and Susan Robinson School of Ballet dancers Millie, 11, and Elliott, 13, with Ced’s Bed and medical staff at the Royal Surrey

The money is the proceeds of a gala production in aid of the hospital’s official charity staged by the school last year.

Susan Robinson Jones, from Byfleet, who set up the school 40 years ago, chose to support the charity after her husband, Cedric Jones, was successfully treated for cancer of the oesophagus at the hospital in 2016.

It was while Cedric recovered in the intensive care unit that the couple realised the specialist beds that helped his recovery were limited due to costing £12,000 each.

With the support of the people involved in the ballet school, Susan was determined to raise the money to buy a specialist bed for the hospital. The new bed has been named Ced’s Bed.

More than 120 dancers aged three to 18 were involved in five performances of the variety show, Reverence, at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking last April. The money was raised through ticket proceeds, a raffle and cakes sales.

“When Cedric was diagnosed, it was an incredibly tough time for us,” said Susan. But everyone we met along the way, from the surgeons to the nutrition nurses, were so positive. They have given us our lives back and we are very grateful for that.

“We wanted to do something that would make a difference to people going through what Cedric went through. If we can make that whole experience a little more comfortable, it’s worth it.

“We are overwhelmed by the support we received and want to thank everyone who came along to the gala and gave so generously.”

The hospital’s matron of critical care, Sue Herson, commented: “The beds allow for patients to be in the correct position at the early stages of recovery. This reduces complications to patients when ventilated, as well as allowing a good upright seated position for physiotherapy.

“The beds also allow patients to stand upright from the foot end of the bed, allowing them to stand and move at an earlier recovery stage. Rolling on their side to get out of bed, causes less stress, pain and discomfort.”

The Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity funds projects that provide life-saving equipment, redevelop wards, invest in staff development and fund innovative research. Find out more at www.rschcharity.org.uk or call 01483 464146.

A STUDENT is raising funds for a Woking dementia care service that provided “amazing care” for her grandad at the end of his life.

Grace Williams, 20, is staging a coffee morning and silent auction at The Bradbury Centre in Maybury.

SPECIAL GRANDAD: Grace Williams with grandfather George Gray

She was moved by the love and kindness the centre’s day care staff showed her grandfather, George Gray.

George, who lived in Woking, was one of the UK’s most successful businessmen as the founding chief executive of major services company Serco. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2013.

Grace said she hoped as many local people as possible would come and support her fundraising event on Thursday 2 March.

“My grandpa was such a happy, smart, inspiring and humble man, and not just in my eyes, but to so many people who were fortunate enough to know him,” said Grace, who also comes from Woking

“I want to do something to give back to the team at The Bradbury Centre. I also want more people to know about it, as this service is so precious.”

“Even in the later stages of the illness, where Grandpa was non-verbal and largely unresponsive, the staff managed to get him to join in some of the activities like arts and crafts and the Tovertafel Table projector, which we call the ‘magic table’.

“Everyone would show him such tenderness and kindness.”

Grace, who is studying psychology at the University of Bristol, was so inspired by the day care service that she volunteers there during the holidays.

The silent auction will include a large collection of items to bid for, including a bungee jump experience, beer tasting and a brewery tour, paintballing and gift vouchers for Nando’s and burger restaurant GBK.

Grace at the seaside with George when she was a child

Bradbury day care manager Francesca Simpson said she was delighted that Grace wanted to do something for the centre.

“Grace is an inspiring young woman and it’s wonderful that she wants to raise funds for us in memory of George,” she added.

“I know that George would be incredibly proud of Grace, and the rest of her family, and I do hope that lots of the local community come along to support this wonderful event. Everyone is welcome!”

The fundraising coffee morning is at the centre in Smiles Place, off Lavender Road, Maybury, from 11am to 2pm. For more details, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/GeorgeGray4.

THE Shah Jahan Mosque is holding its annual open day on Sunday 3 March.

The event, from noon to 3pm will include exhibitions on the history of the first purpose-build mosque in Britain, displays explaining Islam and a question and answer session at 1.45pm.

Shan Jahan Mosque

Visitors will be able to see worshippers in prayer at 1.30pm and take part in guided tours of the mosque.

Refreshments will be served and there will be a gift stall and children’s play area.

The initiative is part of the nation-wide Visit My Mosque event.

For more information, call 07928 539061 or email office@shahjahanmosque.org.uk.

THIS year sees local dance, drama and singing school, Julie Sianne Theatre Arts, celebrate 35 years of performance.

The story of JSTA began with 17-year-old Julie Evans, an avid dancer from Byfleet who dreamt of a future on stage. But with awards under her belt and prospects ahead, she was devastated to discover she had curvature of the spine and would not be able to sustain the physical efforts required as a professional dancer.

WICKED PERFORMANCE: The school’s bewitching show in 2007

Although heavyhearted, young Julie was not deterred. Instead she opted to put her passion for dance into teaching with her own dance school. Using her middle name, she launched the Julie Sianne School of Dance in June 1983.

Julie wanted to inspire dancers, helping them realise potential and prepare for the next stage of life:

“We make everyone believe they can perform, we’re for everyone being the best they can be.”

By the end of 1983, Julie’s students were already entering competitions and winning gold, and starting preparations for exams. In 1984, they took to the stage with the school’s first Dance Variation concert, held in Byfleet Village Hall, allowing students to experience all the elements involved in producing a full stage production.  

The school was renamed Julie Sianne Theatre Arts when they began developing acting classes. Julie’s husband Ray Franklin, known fondly as “Mr Ray”, joined the team as head of drama in 2005, bringing vast theatrical experience and administrative skills.

FOUNDER- Julie Evans

From 1983 until today, students have competed in competitions, put on countless shows, been cast in many pantomimes at the New Victoria Theatre, been in touring theatre productions and this February were seen in the Woking Festival of Dance. They once even performed at Downing Street.

Julie’s work over the years is not only shown by the awards won but by the number of students who return as teachers, guest choreographers and parents of new students.

“We are proud that so many of our students who go on to teach chose to return to JSTA either as permanent or guest teachers and help pass on their experience to the next generation,” said Julie. “It’s a nice family atmosphere to perform and it’s why people bring their children.

For the full story and picture spread, get the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

CHARITIES, clubs and community groups can claim a share of a £50,000 pot being offered to fundraisers by a water company.

Affinity Water launched its latest community engagement fund this week, inviting bids to win financial help for good causes.

An Affinity Water executive visiting a wetlands project which won a grant from the company

The company is keen to see applications for projects that promote sustainable water use, have a positive environmental impact or help disadvantaged people.

Its fund is open for applications until Friday 24 May 2019. Bids will be reviewed by a team of people from across the company and selected applicants, to be announced on Monday 3 June, will go through to the next round.

The review panel is chaired by Affinity Water’s corporate responsibility manager, Beverley Taylor, who said: “We think supporting local good causes in our supply area is a natural extension of our work to keep customers’ taps flowing with safe, high quality water.

For the full story get the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

A RUNNER from Woking is to take part in his first half marathon, inspired by a charity helping children with a rare genetic condition.

Roberto Villalobos will be raising money for Harrison’s Fund, which funds research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

CHARITY BOOST: Roberto Villalobos with his Harrison’s Fund running vest

He is stepping up his act to run the 13 miles of the Surrey Half Marathon next month.

Roberto, 26, said: “I started reading about Harrison’s Fund and thought it could be great to support this cause. No children should have to face such a big health challenge.”

The Esher-based fund was set up in 2012 by Alex and Donna Smith, after their eldest son, Harrison, was diagnosed with DMD.

A life-limiting condition, it affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away. Harrison now has to use a wheelchair to get around and his parents are hoping the charity can find an effective treatment or even a cure. Roberto, who is originally from Spain, added:

“It’s my first time trying to complete a half marathon, and my first time raising funds for a charity. I hope I do them proud.”

Harrison’s Fund is currently funding 16 research projects in the US and the UK. Its events fundraiser, Laura Morgan, said: “It’s wonderful to hear from people like Roberto how much our cause resonates with them.

She added: “We want children with Duchenne to have hope for the future.”

The Surrey Half Marathon is on Sunday 10 March, following a route from Woking Park to Jacobs Well and back. To sponsor Roberto, search for his name at www.everydayhero.com/uk

For the full story get the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

VOLUNTEERS from St John Ambulance are offering Woking residents the chance to learn skills to save a life at a number of free first aid sessions starting this month.

LIFE SAVERS: St John Ambulance Volunteers

The charity is offering the sessions at St John House, Board School Road, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm with a recap each week of the techniques learned the week before. The opportunity to learn first aid could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved situation.

Volunteer Jamie O’Brien is helping to organise the sessions and said: “Why not start 2019 off by learning skills that could save someone’s life? Learning first aid is simple and only takes a few hours, but it can have an incredible impact on someone’s life.

“We’re also keen to encourage local people to consider volunteering with the new unit we plan to open in Woking; no previous experience is needed as full training, including first aid, is provided. These demonstrations could offer someone a taster session, so we’d ask anyone interested to come along, meet the team, and find out more about the voluntary work we do.”

The demonstrations will be held on:

–              27 February – information on St John Ambulance and bleeding

–              6 March – how to treat choking

–              13 March – how to treat someone who is unresponsive but breathing (primary survey and recovery position)

–              20 March – how to recognise and treat a heart attack

–              27 March – – how to treat someone who is unresponsive and isn’t breathing (CPR for all ages, and how to use a defibrillator)

–              3 April – a run through of practical scenarios

For more information about the free first aid demonstrations  contact Jamie.obrien1@sja.org.uk or call 07717 715090. For information about volunteering opportunities in Woking and Surrey visit www.sja.org.uk/volunteersurrey