Kids

FORMER Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sam Skillcorn (née Lowe) is encouraging more youngsters to look at Judo as fitting way to improve their body and mind.

After narrowly missing out on competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Sam and husband Vince set-up Fighting Fitness Judo (formerly Pyrford Judo Club) in 2015.

Coach Sam Skillcorn with students Jack and Amelia

Since opening its doors, the club’s membership has increased substantially, with over 200 judo students now practising the sport on a weekly basis.

The News & Mail caught up with Sam at The Arbor Centre in Pyrford last Saturday to get the lowdown on the club’s rise to the fore.

She said: “Vince and I always knew that we wanted to keep our hand in when we eventually retired from competing, but you’re never quite prepared for when that time comes.

“We were asked if we would like to take over the running of Pyrford Judo Club, which had been running for 30 years by Graham Hoptroff.

“It was a bit daunting at first – to run our own club: however, we haven’t looked back since as we now coach up to 650 children across three centres and at 27 different schools each term,” she added.

Students Jack and Amelia put Sam’s coaching into practice

Following the couple’s decision to retire from competitive sport six-and-a-half years ago, the success of Fighting Fitness Judo is evident for all to see.

Despite competing at the highest competition levels, though, the duo – both third dan black belts – still had to gain their level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications. 

Since then, Vince has successfully gained a masters in advanced sport coaching practice. He is one of only a handful of people in the country to hold the award.

“For us, the main purpose of doing what we do is to make Judo, fun and accessible for all. 

“There’s no point trying to force a child to love any sport if they don’t like it, but similarly if they take to it, it’s important to give them all the encouragement to excel. That’s the ethos that we promote at Fighting Fitness Judo.

“Students take part in lots of different movement skills. As a result, they develop spatial awareness, balance and greater agility. 

After just four years, Fighting Fitness Judo has become a reputable name across Woking and further afield, with more girls now actively participating in the sport.

The club’s Judo players will also be competing in the Surrey under-16s and senior closed trials on 28 April in a bid to make the Surrey county squad.

For more information on Fighting Fitness Judo, or to take up a free trial, please go www.fightingfitnessjudo.com

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

Green space, woodland and blossom. Spring bulbs and spectacular camellias in the woodland. Afternoon teas, coffee with home-made cakes and light refreshments, served in the barn. That will be the lovely scene this Easter Monday (22 April) when Timber Hill Gardens in Chobham opens for public view under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

The beautiful gardens at Timber Hill are the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing spring afternoon.

Timber Hill has been the home of the Sealy family since 1951. The land has changed beyond recognition in that time from a simple smallholding with sheep to a scenic park with beautiful mature gardens and a woodland which reveal a spectacular succession of shrubs from January through to May.

This has been the result of the huge interest and enthusiasm of the current occupants, Nick and Lavinia Sealy, as well as a longstanding, committed and knowledgeable gardener.

In case children aren’t overwhelmed by all this natural beauty, it’s hoped to have a nature trail and questionnaire to help them enjoy this fabulous natural space.

You’ll find Timber Hill Gardens on the A319 between Chobham and Ottershaw. It will be open on Monday from 11am until 4.30pm. “Entry is £6 for adults, and free for children,” said Lavinia. “Entrance fees will go to the National Garden Scheme while proceeds from refreshments will be donated to Alzheimers and dementia charities.”

For information about Timber Hill Gardens and many spectacular photos visit www.timberhillgarden.co.uk or call 01932 873875.

You’ll find a handy “find a garden” guide to find gardens opening under the NGS on its web site at www.ngs.org.uk.

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

KEEP your mini-superheroes entertained this week at Wolsey Place, as the Woking shopping centre hosts free superhero fun, including visits from Iron Man and Wonder Woman.

Arrive at Superhero HQ on Wednesday and Thursday, 17-18 April, and discover a fully fitted out games and training area, where mini-heroes can be put through their paces and learn all their super skills. They’ll find a great selection of costumes including Spiderman, Thor and Iron Man and plenty of accessories to help them discover their inner powers.

There’s the opportunity to let imaginations run riot in the centre’s free craft workshop, creating their own superhero comic strips on Wednesday and designing a superhero mask on Thursday.  On Wednesday, Iron Man will be visiting, and Thursday it’s the turn of Wonder Woman, allowing the chance to meet the heroes and pose for selfies.

Rowen de Grauw, Customer Experience Manager, Woking Shopping said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming families to Woking Shopping for our free Superheroes event. It’s a theme that truly spans the generations and so we’re confident that it’s an event that the whole family will enjoy with lots of entertainment and photo opportunities galore!”

TWO schools in Knaphill will each get a defibrillator each after children, teachers and parents raised £3,700 by taking part in the Surrey Half Marathon.

Sixty runners from Knaphill School and Knaphill Lower School took part in the event, with everyone finishing their particular event.

Runners from Knaphill School and Knaphill Lower School have raised money for a defibrillator for each school

Some completed the 13-mile half marathon in Woking earlier this month, while others opted for the 5k and the children took part in the 2k race.

Team organiser, Mandy Walsh, who has children in both schools, said the initiative was a great success.

“It was lovely; a brilliant day. Everyone did very well, especially the kids and we are very proud of them,” Mandy said.

She said the Surrey Half Marathon was very well organised event and a credit to Woking.

Mandy organised the team after one of the parents and a teacher did a first aid course and decided that the schools needed to have a defibrillator.

The combined sponsorship target from family and friends was around £2,000, so that both schools could each get one of the lifesaving devices.

The final total is still being counted and a decision will be taken on how to use any extra money after the defibrillators have been bought and installed.

Donations can be given at https://www.justgiving.com/knaphillschools.

THE chairman of The Football Association visited the Byfleet village Club at the weekend.

Greg Clarke, right, with Paul Robinson (club chairman), middle, and Rosie Ainsworth (club secretary), left

Greg Clarke, who previously served as the chairman of The Football League and Leicester City, was given a tour of Byfleet Village’s facilities by Paul Robinson (club chairman) and rosie Ainsworth (club secretary). Clarke also watched practice sessions involving the club’s girls and under fives.

His visit was part of a whistle-stop tour of some of Surrey’s youth development clubs for boys’ and girls’ football.

Robinson said: “It’s nice to see that people at the The FA are willing to come down and see what we are doing at Byfleet Village.

“This season we got our first girls’ team off the ground, at under-11 level

A Byfleet Village player practices her footwork

“We’re also actively involved through local schools helping to promote girls’ football, where we’re currently providing training free of charge until the end of the season to try and get as many girls involved in football as possible.”

Clarke said: “Byfleet village is a wonderful club run by wonderful people.”

For the full picture feature get the 14 March edition of the News & Mail

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

IF YOU go down to the RHS Wisley Garden you’re sure of some big – and small – surprises.

Wisley Garden is hosting The Great Brick Safari, which features 40 sculptures ranging from African elephants to insect-devouring plants.

Hamish and Teddy intriguing a gazelle

Displayed throughout the establishment’s famous Glasshouse is a collection of exotic creatures and plants made from Lego components.

Lily teases a tiger

The Glasshouse Gallery is also running Lego brick workshops, where children can make a model and then purchase it to take home.

The event is open from 10am to 4.30pm every day until Sunday 3 March, with the creations on show in both the temperate and tropical zones of the Glasshouse.

Edward and Rebecca at the Zebra enclosure

For more pics get the 7th Feb edition of the News & Mail.