Jubilee Square

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

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

THOUSANDS of visitors enjoyed three days of free culinary capers and one red-hot chilli showdown as part of Woking Food and Drink Festival 2019.

Foodies from across the region turned out in vast numbers to enjoy a large helping of celebrity and local chef demos, expert talks, pop-up dining experiences and a fantastic assortment of food and drink stalls, all served with a side of street entertainment and live music.

The French Cainté duo preparing food

Located in Jubilee Square, the professional demo theatre hosted a smorgasbord of top culinary experts, including Sabrina Ghayour, TV presenter and author; Martha Collison, Great British Bake Off quarter finalist and food writer; Laurence Henry, MasterChef: The Professionals 2018 winner; and Chris Bavin, co-presenter of BBC’s Eat Well for Less.

A welcoming Wannat from the Happy Hungry Buddha offers a sample

As well as the alluring pull of the Michelin star heavyweights and celebrity chefs, the Hot Pods chilli eating competition drew the crowds, with three finalists making it through to the tenth and final round, eating the world’s hottest chilli (the Carolina Reaper), before a tie breaker of six random chillies.

Cllr Colin Kemp, Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “It was fantastic to see Woking town centre buzzing with visitors of all ages enjoying the chef demos, free activities and talks, street entertainment and live music, as well as the selection of cuisine available from across the world.

For the full story and special picture feature, get the 5 September edition of the News & Mail

THOUSANDS of people spread rainbow colours across Woking on Saturday for the first Pride in Surrey festival.

All Glammed Up – a trio of parade goers sporting gloriously colourful Pride garb and makeup

Members of the LGBTQ+ communities invited friends, relatives and supporters to join a celebration which it is hoped will trigger continuing and increasing understanding of all aspects of their cultures.

The event opened at 11am with the Pride Parade from the HG Wells Centre in Church Street East, through Jubilee Square and Wolsey Place shopping centre and on to Commercial Way.

Senior police offices and politicians, including Surrey Chief Constable Gavin Stephens and Woking borough councillor Graham Cundy were among those taking part. Cllr Cundy led the parade, along with drag artist Queen Alexandra, head of The Party Royal.

Constable Ryan Williams and Superintendent Clive Davies stand suitably decorated next to an equally glamorous, electric patrol car.

The police displayed a Jaguar I-Pace demonstration electric patrol car specially “wrapped” in a rainbow design for the day by a vehicle livery company.

Festivities moved on to Woking Park, where all the tickets for entertainment and attractions lasting until 10pm had quickly been reserved.

“I’d like to thank every volunteer for their time,” said organiser Stephen Ireland. “Our motto was to make people’s Pride magical, and we certainly did that during our family friendly day of Pride.”

See the special picture feature in the 15 August edition of the News & Mail

TROOPS from The Army Training Centre (Pirbright) marched into Jubilee Square last Sunday in an Honorary Freedom of the Borough Parade. The ceremony took place in front of dignitaries and army officials.

BEST FOOT FORWARD – Troops march into Jubilee Square in the Honorary Freedom of the Borough Parade

Woking Mayor Cllr Will Forster said: “The Army Training Centre is the first collective Freedom of the Borough ever bestowed by Woking Borough and the award has only been given to five individuals previously. The parade is a very special occasion.”

The Army Training Centre was awarded Freedom of the Borough on 8 December 2016. The award is the highest that any borough can bestow.

It recognises exceptional contributions or distinctive service to the borough by an individual or group of individuals.

See the special picture feature in today’s News & Mail

AN HONORARY Freedom of the Borough Parade for The Army Training Centre (Pirbright) will be held on Sunday at 2.30pm.

Troops from The Army Training Centre will march into Jubilee Square, before an open-air ceremony takes place in front of dignitaries and army officials. Following the ceremony, the parade will march past the Mayor and Civic guests in Church Street East.

Freedom of the Borough Parade through Woking Town Centre in 2017

Members of the public are invited to come and enjoy this event with the troops.

Speaking about the parade, the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Will Forster, said: “The Army Training Centre is the first collective Freedom of the Borough ever bestowed by Woking Borough and the award has only been given to five individuals previously. Therefore, the parade is a very special occasion and I encourage everyone to come and join the troops’ celebration by lining the streets to cheer them along their way.”

Troops assemble in Jubilee Square in 2017

The Army Training Centre, Pirbright was awarded Freedom of the Borough on 8 December 2016. The award is the highest that any Borough can bestow. It recognises exceptional contributions, or distinctive service to the Borough by an individual or group of individuals.

The Army Training Centre, based at the Alexander Barracks in Pirbright, lies within the Parliamentary Constituency of Woking. The Centre has long held a strong relationship with the Borough’s community, one that was officially documented in 2012 when the Armed Forces Community Covenant was signed by the Centre, Woking Borough Council and other public bodies.

The award gives the honour and distinction to all ranks of the Centre to march through the streets of the Borough on ceremonial occasions.

A road closure will be in place along Church Street East from 7am to 3.30pm on the day of the parade.

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

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.