christmas

A WINTER Wonderland came to Woking on Saturday, with the opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy some ice skating.

Jerry and Dominique Parsons with four-year-old Electra

The rink at St Dunstan’s Primary School wasn’t actually made of frozen water but it provided plenty of thrills.

Reka Mandolfo, Anna Sole, Sophia, 10, and Angelina,12, offering decorations

The rink was the centrepiece of the school’s Christmas fair, which raised around £3,000 to help buy IT equipment for the classrooms.

The ice rink was set up in one of the playgrounds, along with stalls selling festive goods and refreshments. Father Christmas visited to meet children in his grotto.

“It was the first time we had tried a winter wonderland theme and we were lucky with the weather, was it was a fine day,” said Sarah Genco, the main organiser from the parent-teacher association, “We were well supported by pupils and parents from the school, as well as people from the community. The fair had a really good community feel to it.”

For the full story get the 12 December edition of the News & Mail

TWO balding puppies found dumped by the roadside on a cold, wet day are being kept warm by some Christmas jumpers.

The 12-week-old lurchers are being looked after at the RSPCA’s Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham, along with their mother.

Holly and Ivy keeping warm in their special knitted coats

The dogs – the pups named Holly, Ivy and the mum Mistletoe by centre staff – were abandoned in Effingham at the end of November.

Holly and Ivy have mange and are suffering with bald, itchy patches on their skin.

Mum Mistletoe is being kept safe at Millbrook

“Thankfully, someone spotted them and asked us for help, and we were able to get them into our warm, dry kennels quickly.” said Millbrook deputy manager Liz Wood.

“Mistletoe is doing well but the pups have still got a long way to go and it will take some time for their coats to grow back,” she added.

Liz said the family will stay at the centre over the Christmas period while they are nursed back to full health.

The centre is appealing for donations to help cover the cost of care over Christmas and the ongoing treatment that the dogs need.

Donations can be made at Millbrook in Guildford Road, Chobham, or via the RSPCA’s Stock the Sleigh winter appeal at www.rspca.org.uk.

For the full story get the 12 December edition of the News & Mail

CHRISTMAS is almost upon us and that must mean it’s nearly the end of the year. Scrap that, because it’s nearly the end of the decade.

The next time we speak we’ll be in the Twenties. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll say it every year but where on earth did the time go?

News & Mail angling columnist Jack Pells with the one that didn’t get away

Thankfully we’re not quite there yet and we still have the festivities to look forward to.

For once, I’ve been happy that people started Christmas in November. It was a nice distraction from all the election news and propaganda.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find a bit of time to get out and go fishing.

When I was a young teenager I used to have a Christmas Eve tradition. I’d jump on my bike, cycle down to the river and fish for pike in the afternoon until it got dark. Then I’d head home and enjoy a hot chocolate in front of the TV with my family.

I never really used to catch that many on 24 December. But it was lovely to be out, which is of course the main reason I like going fishing at any time of year.

We’ve had so much rain lately that I wonder if all the fish have been flushed away in the raging rivers.

I’m sure there’ll be one or two that are a dab hand at keeping ahead of the game and are tucking themselves away from harm.

The fish in the lakes, on the other hand, will no doubt be very happy at all the extra water that’s topping up their home.

By all accounts the extra water has seen some good fishing results at the lakes, with carp, roach, perch and bream making regular appearances.

However, the large pike have been a bit more elusive. They have been snapping at baits and dropping them very quickly, which has been creating frustration for those anglers in search of “the one that got away”.

Membership of Woking & District Angling Association is available all year round.

So if you have a friend or loved one who has everything and you don’t know what to buy them for Christmas, then why not treat them to a membership of the association? Provided they have an interest in fishing, of course, otherwise you might find yourself off their Christmas card list next year.

Until next time. Have a wonderful Christmas and peaceful new year. See you in 2020.

VISIT the association’s website at www.wadaa.co.uk.

To read Jack’s full article, get the 5 December News & Mail

THE Magic of Christmas has returned to Chobham Adventure Farm, and it’s the perfect way to indulge in festive spirit.

Following on from last year’s success, the Yuletide extravaganza is back. It offers an engaging and interactive two-hour experience, as children learn how to become an official elf helper and keep the magic of Christmas alive.

Santa takes a moment to double check the nice list in between meeting his new helpers

Because elves are a creative bunch, this includes a special salute, some songs, a dance – as well as decorating gingerbread men with Mother Christmas, learning cracker jokes with teacher elf, sending festive postcards with postie elf, assisting inventor elf with his latest Christmas machine, preparing reindeer food and getting into a snowball fight.

By the end of your tour, culminating with a personal meeting with Santa Claus himself, only a stone-cold Grinch would not be feeling a warm glow of festive spirit. And the children will have earned a certificate signed by head elf Tinsel Glitterbottom and Santa (plus a hoof print from Rudolph).

A master elf is on hand at the elf school to teach kids the secrets of the Santa’s helpers

It’s a proper experience, one that draws everyone in, adults and children alike: whether it’s making things, singing songs, stroking reindeer or throwing snowballs. Each room is properly decked out to represent each inhabitant, and on our trip round we enjoyed spotting all the jokes amid the festive decorations – “Be wary of yellow snow” is one of the mottos in teacher elf’s classroom.

My five-year-old son Luke loved finding out our elf names (I’m Curly Peach-Pants, for all future elvish communications), and took full advantage to pelt me with the fake snowballs towards the end of our visit. Although it was really the adults who ran wild at this point, ganging up on the out-numbered elves.

After chatting with Santa, Luke also enjoyed making his own teddy bear, which was his to take away along with the gingerbread man, the official elf helper certificate and reindeer food. As well as gifts for mummy and daddy, for no one leaves empty-handed. You can take your own pictures as you go along, as well as buy an official picture of you all with Santa, with the option to have it as a snow globe or Christmas tree ornament.

The whole experience has been well thought out to ensure enjoyment for all, a true festive treat.

One of Santa’s elves keeps watch at the doorway to the magical realm

And have no doubt of Santa’s special powers. When he found out my son is a Charlton Athletic supporter (it’s a long-standing family tradition, rather than parental cruelty), the big man in the red suit immediately rattled off the name of the Addick’s star striker, saying Lyle Taylor was definitely on the nice list.

I was impressed that he wasn’t thrown by a reference to a Championship side, instead of one of the Premier’s glamour clubs. Shaking my hand as we left, Santa added he hoped I was pleased with the early festive present he’d delivered for all Charlton fans, in the shape of new owners for the club. It certainly did feel as if Christmas had come early at the Valley.

Proof, if any were needed, that the big man has magic powers. And that The Magic of Christmas experience offers something for everyone, children and adults alike.

Tickets for The Magic of Christmas experience cost £42.50 peak and £32.50 off-peak and include the guided tour, festive activities and visit to Santa, as well as entrance to the Adventure Farm play areas. Place are available to book up each day until 2pm on 24 December. For more details, visit https://chobhamadventurefarm.co.uk/christmas

THE ANNUAL Santa Fun Run took over Woking Park on Sunday to raise money for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices.

The Santas are led in a festive warm up routine at Woking Leisure Centre

In what is now its ninth year, the sea of 230 Santas of all ages set the pace following registration and a warm-up in the Leisure Centre before setting off on the 1km circuit. The run, which has taken place for the last three years in the town’s park, has proved so popular that this year it is also being held in Walton for the first time.

Special guest “Elsa” (Krista Lougher, Hospice Fund Raising Team)

Sunday’s event started at 10.30am, with registration and Santa suit collection from 9am in the main hall of Woking Leisure Centre. The course took participants on a loop of the park but they had the option to do as many laps as they wished between 10.30am and 12.30pm – the longest run was believed to have been 15 laps.

Rachelle Barnett, Community & Events Fundraising Manager at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, said: “The Santa Fun Run is a great event for everyone and we were delighted to welcome lots of local families – and their dogs! We had a wonderful morning at Woking Leisure Centre and Woking Park with 230 ‘Santas’ of all ages taking on the challenge.”

Emma Browne as Rudolf

“We are still counting funds raised with more sponsorship to come in, but we’d like to thank our ‘Santas’ for contributing so wonderfully to our charity to enable us to continue to provide free end-of-life care across North West Surrey. Events like the Santa Fun Run make a vital difference to the 2,000 people we help each year, and their families and carers,” said Rachelle.

Anyone inspired by the photos from the Woking event can take part in the Hospice’s Walton Santa Fun Run on Sunday (8 December). Participants can register from 9am at the Xcel Sports Hub in Walton-on-Thames or register online at wsbhospices.co.uk/events.

For the full story and two page picture feature, get the 5 December edition of the News & Mail

CHILDREN got into a festive mood while helping raise money for the Woking Foodbank on Sunday afternoon.

They were taking part in a Christmas craft session organised by Trudi Fletcher, who is again rallying the community in support of the charity.

A pair of artists at work on the Christmas house

Trudi staged her workshop at Brookwood Memorial Hall, where youngsters made placemats, used prints of their feet to create reindeer and mistletoe pictures and handprints to create robins.

Trudi’s mini-collection sleigh was there for parents to donate non-perishable items to the food bank, which is building up its supplies to give out to people in crisis for the festive season.

Praise-Joel colouring in sweets on the house

“The craft session went really well and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” said Trudi, who lives in Connaught Crescent, Brookwood. “The parents have been messaging me to say they had a good time.

“It was good of the memorial hall committee to give me the premises free for the afternoon and people are again being very generous to my appeal.”

“We have got a lot of basics such as pasta and tinned food to give to the food bank but could do with donations of more-expensive items such as Marmite and peanut butter, plus breakfast cereals and fruits drinks,” Trudi added.

She and her helpers will be touring the streets with their sleigh in the lead-up to Christmas. They will also be collecting at the official switch-on of the Brookwood lights at Brookwood Club at 6pm on Saturday next week, 6 December.

To join Trudi’s collection campaign, contact her on trudifletcher@rocketmail.com or call her on 078887 565163.

For the full story and pictures, get the 28 November edition of the News & Mail

THOUSANDS of people packed Jubilee Square on Thursday evening last week as Woking’s Christmas lights were switched on.

The button to turn on the illuminations was pressed by Brendan Cole, soon to play the Genie in Aladdin, this year’s panto at the New Victoria Theatre.

A polar bear strolls through the Peacocks shopping centre

The switch-on followed a day of entertainment in the town’s shopping centres, a highlight of which was a full-size animatronic polar bear which prowled around the malls to thrill both children and adults.

Brendan Cole addresses the audience before switching the lights

Performances on the stage in the town square included pupils from West Byfleet Junior School and Brookwood Primary School, who sang a series of Christmas carols.

Seventy performers from Stagecoach Performing Arts wowed the crowds with their vocal and dance routines, while Summerscales dance school pupils also had the audience mesmerised with some incredible performances.

Woking Shopping’s customer experience manager, Rowen de Grauw, commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled at the success of our Christmas lights switch-on event. Woking was buzzing with excitement as everyone turned out to enjoy what was a fabulous event for the whole community.”

For a full report and two-page picture special of the event, see this Thursday’s 28 November edition of the News & Mail

A FUN and festive Christmas Fayre was enjoyed by all at Byfleet Village Hall last Saturday.

READ ALL ABOUT IT – Hannah Cope, Anne Roberts, Adrian Ferrao and Catherine Cope on the York Road Project bookstall

On a sunny autumnal morning, the fayre got under way with Penelope the street organ delighting the audience with Christmas tunes, then the Weyward Singers ending a beautiful session of carols and jolly Christmas songs with a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells.

JAM SESSION – Tina Stephens makes her final appearance at the fayre selling her preserves  for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices

Visitors were entertained by Bonnie the Stiltwalker, and by Laura, who was a big hit with her creative face painting and balloon modelling.

There was a mix of charity and trade stalls, selling goods from china items and jewellery to chutneys and portrait photography. The children were encouraged to visit Santa in his Winter Wonderland grotto.

Kate Gill, chair of the Village Hall christmas committee, said: “Feedback from the stallholders was positive, with regulars saying how much they enjoy this particular fayre because of the personal feel and camaraderie.

I’VE BEEN REALLY GOOD – Isla assures Santa that she has been well behaved this year

“The fayre is put on purely for the village to enjoy, especially the children.  We try to keep it quite traditional, which everyone seems to enjoy, so we look forward to being back again next year.”

For the full story and special picture feature, get the 21 November edition of the News & Mail

WEST Byfleet’s first official Christmas lights switch-on, which was attended by more than 500 people despite the heavy rain, has been judged an outstanding success.

The crowd gathered to see festive illuminations around the village centre and a Christmas tree light up on Friday evening last week.

Festively decorated guests Sofia and Maddy enjoy the lights with dad John Elliott

“This year, we made a special effort to create a truly magical atmosphere in the village over the festive season,” said event organiser Fran Nevett. “The attendance was an impressive number given the awful weather.

Gemma and Darcy Mclachlan share some sweet treats at the lighting

The evening commenced with a performance by West Byfleet Community Choir followed by a Rat Pack tribute show by voice artist Daniel Brewerton.

Mince pies and mulled wine donated by Waitrose helped get the crowd into a festive mood, butcher James Lowe laid on a barbecue and Italian Restaurant Lello’s also provided complimentary food. Free glow sticks were given to all the children, who were able to indulge in pick and mix from and a sweets cart.

The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, and Woking’s Conservative general election candidate, Jonathan Lord, were among the guests.

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

A PANTOMIME with a nautical flavour comes to Send for two sets of performances in the run-up to Christmas.

AHOY THERE – Alex Haben, Emily Wright, Amanda Vaughan and Brian Higgs will bring a little bit of treasure to Send

Treasure Island from Send Amateur Dramatic Society will feature a version of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale, but with Long John Silver and his fearsome crew having to deal with the Smuggler’s Cove Women’s Institute.

The fun, family show will be full of mischief, songs and laughter, and also includes the cheeky Polly the Parrot.

Productions will be held at Lancaster Hall on 29 and 30 November and 5, 6 and 7 December. Tickets cost £8 and can be bought by calling 07542 107815.