A TRADESMAN’S van dubbed “the dirtiest in Britain” has been given a professional makeover – thanks to a leading builders merchant.

Selco Builders Warehouse launched a nationwide search to find the filthiest trade vehicle on the road.

Inundated with entries, from plumbers’ cars caked in mud to neglected builders’ vans full of old cement and dust, judges carefully studied the dirty photos – before crowning a van belonging to Arek Build & Renovations in New Haw as the country’s grubbiest vehicle.

Just look at us now. From filthy van to clean machine.
Anna Bargiel, of Arek Build & Renovations, with Scott Coleman, owner of Totally Dynamic’s centre in Redhill

“We have to admit, we did let this van get a little dirty,” said Anna Bargiel, of Arek.

“It was amazing to win this Selco competition and to receive this fantastic re-wrap. Now that it has been fully cleaned and re-branded, it looks better than it did when it was new.”

Having picked a winner, Selco paid for the offending van to be professionally cleaned and wrapped by Totally Dynamic.

“We know that busy tradespeople often struggle to find the time to clean their work vehicles. We had some impressive entries but just felt that the Arek van deserved a bit of TLC,” said Carine Jessamine, marketing director of Selco.

“We were delighted to team up with Totally Dynamic to give the Arek team a real boost. The van now looks fantastic and hopefully the additional branding on the vehicle will drive extra business.”

THE world’s most famous rags-to-riches fairytale, Cinderella, will come to Woking next week, thanks to Northern Ballet.

A tragic end to a perfect summer’s day leaves Cinderella with no choice but to accept a desolate life of servitude. At the mercy of her wicked stepmother, Cinderella seeks joy where she can, but after encountering the handsome, carefree prince skating on a glistening lake of ice, she yearns for another life.

CHILLING OUT – Northern Ballet’s version of Cinderella makes the most of its icy setting in Imperial Russia

Despite her sadness, Cinderella never forgets to be kind and her generosity is repaid when a chance encounter with a mysterious magician changes her destiny forever…

Choreographed by David Nixon, this version of Cinderella will combine dance with magic and circus skills. He says: “We have staged our ballet in the winter wonderland of Imperial Russia, opening up the possibilities of this colourful world as a new setting for Cinderella to make her journey.

“Audiences will see the dancers skate on a glistening lake of ice, stilt walkers entertaining in a marketplace and the fateful ball held in a Fabergé-inspired ballroom.”

Northern Ballet’s Cinderella will be at the New Victoria Theatre from Wednesday 18 September until Saturday 21 September.

RECYCLED waste plastic waste from bottles, bags and packaging has been used in pavements for the first time in Surrey.

The trial has seen waste plastic that would otherwise have gone to incineration or landfill used in asphalt to resurface pavements in Horsell Rise, Woking, and Brighton Road, Burgh Heath, before extending the trial into Kent.

Trials begin on Surrey’s first waste plastic pavement

The joint project is being led by electricity distributor, UK Power Networks which carries out roadworks to install, maintain and upgrade the cables delivering power to 8.3 million homes and businesses, with reinstatement contractor Stanmore Quality Surfacing (SQS), in partnership with Surrey and Kent county councils.

“This is the first time waste plastic has been used on Surrey’s street works and if tests prove successful, this could pave the way for wider use by other utilities,” said Mark Baker, senior groundworks manager at UK Power Networks.

In the trial across Surrey and Kent, UK Power Networks and SQS will use 17 tonnes of asphalt containing the equivalent of 14,571 single use carrier bags or 5,100 plastic bottles.

For the full story get the 22 August edition of the News & Mail

AMELIE captured the hearts of film fans everywhere. The shy romantic with a gift for helping others – played in the 2001 French romantic comedy movie by Audrey Tautou – is an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her mind.

Now the story has been brought to the stage as a musical which is coming to Woking at the end of this month.

French Canadian actress Audrey Brisson is in the famous role, and she doesn’t sound too daunted.

Audrey Brisson says Amelie is a fascinating character to play

“It is such a fabulous story, and I love the film it’s based on,” she enthuses. “Amélie is a fascinating character. Her imagination. Her reluctance to give up. She grows up thinking she can’t connect with anyone and that she’ll always be alone, yet she’s got this positivity within her.

“I love her positivity, her perseverance and her way of seeing a situation that’s potentially very dark and then bringing some colours into it. I think that’s something I need to hold on to.”

Amélie secretly improvises small, but extraordinary acts of kindness that bring happiness to those around her. But when a chance at love comes her way, She realises that to find her own contentment she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart.

Audrey explains: “Amélie is a story of a young girl who struggles to connect to people around her so she just creates a world of imagination. She likes to have a step away from the rest of the world and to view it. She likes to meddle in other people’s lives to try and force them to connect with other people.”

But she adds: “It’s not a fairy tale… She’s not portrayed or made to look perfect and beautiful. She is a complex human being as we all are. She reminds us all of ourselves a little bit, in a way.”

Turning Amélie into a musical was not an obvious move, but Audrey says it works completely.

“It’s the connection,” she says. “You can sit on your sofa and watch the film, and you’ll still be able to enjoy the beauty and be moved by it, but when you come to the show you have real people singing for you, looking at you, talking to the audience.

“We invite you into the story. I think it’s great to remind people that we are, as humans, all in this together. No matter how lonely you might feel, you’ve got someone next to you listening to that same story.

“When you’re in an auditorium of people who will all experience the story differently because they have their own journeys, you’ve got a room filled with different interpretations of what it is to be human. I think that’s quite potent and wonderful.

“Barnaby Race, the music arranger, worked on the music heavily to try and bring it back to a European-ness and closer to the quirkiness of the film. Changing the tempo, the key signature of the music, and the fact we have actual musicians on the stage – it brought that French-ness.”

The UK production also now contains some scenes that weren’t in the Broadway production and Audrey says: “Michael Fentiman, the director, has done a wonderful job of bringing the magical aspect of the film to the stage. There’s this wonderful moment in the movie where Amélie melts and turns into a puddle of water. We can’t do that on stage, but it feels as though we’ve got that same enchanting feeling.”

The film is set in the 1990s and the stage musical version has stuck with that era and Audrey explains: “Our version is set at the same time as the film, before mobile phones and everything, but it’s still so relevant to today with the fact people don’t connect even though they have so many opportunities to talk to one another with phones or texts, message, or emails – it’s so accessible yet so hard to reach.

“I like that… I like the complexities of her as a character. We all have that need and desire to connect with one another, in cities where we are so jammed up together and yet we can feel quite lonely, because God forbid you would ever smile at the person that you were next to on the train.

“I hope that this story is a nice reminder that you should look up and smile at the person on the train next you, they won’t bite you, and actually they’re probably in a similar situation to you, just wanting to be seen and wanting to be acknowledged.”

Audrey Brisson will be joined by Strictly Come Dancing favourite and television actor Danny Mac when Amélie The Musical comes to the New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 27 to Saturday 31 August.

IT’S BEEN almost 60 years since the iconic record label Motown was founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy – launching the careers of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 along with many others.

Now the story of the record label’s success is told in West End show Motown The Musical, which arrives in Woking this month on tour.

The show was created after getting first-hand advice from Michael Lovesmith, who worked alongside Mr Gordy at Motown for years, coached the Jackson 5, produced the likes of The Temptations and The Supremes, and performed himself. As creative consultant, he worked alongside director Charles Randolph-Wright.

The Supremes tribute, with Karis Anderson as Diana Ross, in Motown The Musical

“I was basically born and raised in music,” says Michael. “I was on the road as a child, singing in churches as a trio with my brothers. Then at the age of 11 I was introduced to Holland-Dozier-Holland, who signed me to a song-writing contract, and I wrote my first song for them, to be performed by Dionne Warwick.”

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was a good thing I had a good song! I met Mr Gordy at age 17, and by that time I had produced about 12 artists. 

“Motown wanted me to work with the Jackson 5. I was their age, so I could relate to them in a way that not everybody could. They were so used to working with older people who didn’t quite understand their energy! 

“I ended up becoming Berry Gordy’s protégé, and started producing and vocal coaching Michael and his brothers. Then soon after that I started recording with The Supremes and The Temptations. That’s pretty much how I got started.”

Motown The Musical tells the story of Mr Gordy’s life and the development of Motown Records in Detroit, which soon became known as Hitsville USA.

Michael explains: “The funny thing about Motown is, I think Motown could have been anywhere, and in a sense it was.”

“Every city had a girl group, a guy group, a kids’ group and a lead singer but the unique thing that Detroit had was Berry Gordy. He was this beacon of light, showing you what you can do and what you could be. There were musicians and singers all over the country, but Detroit had Berry Gordy, so it became a magnet for them.”

With such an iconic sound that audiences have loved for almost six decades, how do you begin the process of faithfully recreating that on stage? Michael says: “We searched high and low for someone who understands the need for the show to sound like Motown.

“One person came to meet us and gave us his idea of how he would find a Stevie Wonder, a Michael Jackson, a Smokey Robinson, which we didn’t think was possible, and that person was Charles Randolph-Wright.

“Charles walked into the room and knew what Motown is, who Motown is and what Motown looks and feels like. He grew up on this music.”

Charles adds: “Motown is all we ever really listened to growing up.” But he did find directing the show tough. “Oh yes, I felt pressure,” he explains. “It was so important to me because Mr Gordy is one of my idols, so I wanted to create the show that he wanted to see.

“I approached it the way that Berry Gordy approached it – I needed to find artists that would evoke a certain thing. What I never wanted to do was find people who would just impersonate those performers, I wanted them to make me feel the way Diana Ross made me feel, an actress that would actually make me put my hands up and sing Reach Out and Touch.

“It’s finding that energy, sometimes it’s such raw performers and sometimes it’s people who have been in 10 shows. It’s an instinctive thing – they’re Motown. Working closely with Mr Gordy and Michael I’ve been able to ask, what is that thing that Stevie Wonder has, what is that specific thing that Smokey has? We find that in someone that is authentic in them, rather than make them pretend to be that.”

Motown The Musical will be at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 20 August until Saturday 24 August.

FAMILY-owned horticultural business, Squire’s, is celebrating a gardening hat-trick as it enjoyed national recognition for three of its centres, including Woking.

Squire’s in Woking, which reopened in March 2017 after a major refurbishment, won the title of “Best Garden Products Retailer”, while Squire’s in Hersham was named Garden Centre Of The Year in the South Thames region for the third year in a row, Woking and Badshot Lea garden centres taking joint second place in the category. Badshot Lea also won the Barton Grange Trophy for “Commercial Innovation and Creativity”.

DELIGHTED – Sarah Squire at the family’s Woking garden centre

Squire’s owns 15 Garden Centres to discover across Surrey, Sussex, North and West London Celebrating the Garden Centre Association (GCA) regional awards Sarah Squire, Chairman at Squire’s said: “I am thrilled that Squire’s in Hersham took the top spot in the Garden Centre category, and that Squire’s in Woking and Badshot Lea came second in their categories, as well as winning other awards!”

The GCA represents 200 garden centres nationwide and will be judging national winners this autumn. The overall winner announced at the GCA conference in January 2020.

CREATIVE workspace provider Spaces has opened its first flexible working centre in Woking, providing a boost to what is already a thriving business community.

Spread across over 38,000 sq ft over nine open-plan floors, Spaces Woking One is the perfect base for businesses looking to work in the centre of town. Equipped with high-specification meeting rooms, premium private offices and open-plan areas, there is something for everyone, whether private working space or a communal environment to work collaboratively.

CGI of the new Spaces flexible working centre

The centre’s close proximity to Woking station and local transport links makes it an ideal location to reach London – whether as part of a daily commuter or a need to travel to business meetings in the capital.

“Demand for flexible office space is growing rapidly – our research shows that 73% of Brits believe that flexible working is the ‘new normal’, with 53% of professionals globally now working remotely for at least half their working week,” said Richard Morris, UK CEO of Spaces. “People are recognising that they are far more productive and successful in a dynamic working environment.

“We are delighted to have opened this new centre in Woking. Spaces offers a new type of workspace for companies and individuals looking for a place to work flexibly and be inspired by other like-minded people. The space offers fantastic connectivity and premier features, within a prime location in the newly developed town square.”

SURVEYOR Claudia Harley has joined the Vail Williams team at their Woking office. 

She has joined the firm’s acquisitions and disposal team as Surveyor (Level2) from Lewis & Co in south west London, where she worked for two years as a graduate surveyor.

Claudia Harley, front right, has joined property consultants Vail Williams LLP at their office in Woking. Also pictured are (back left-right) Matt Clarke, partner, Geoff Fallon, regional managing partner for Surrey and Kevin Cook, partner and member of the executive board, together with recent promotee, Elliot McNish, front left.

Her role in Woking will see her work alongside partners Matt Clarke and Steve New, advising occupiers, landlords, developers and investors on the acquisition and disposal of commercial property.  

“Her appointment marks the start of an exciting period for us, as we seek to grow our multi-disciplinary team in response to our increasing client base in Surrey,” said Geoff Fallon, Vail Williams’ regional managing partner for Surrey.

“The knowledge she brings of the south west London property market will complement our own, and the extra resource she brings will ensure we are well placed to take advantage of growth trail.”

Claudia is experienced in the letting and sale of office, retail and industrial properties, with particular knowledge of the south west London market where she was involved in the acquisition of a large owner-occupied office in Twickenham and achieved the highest rental figure ever in the Wimbledon Village office market.

“Vail Williams has a high calibre client base, strong ambitions and a clear direction of travel. This together with their culture and values, made it a very attractive opportunity,” she said.

The annual exhibition Centrepiece returns to Woking’s Lightbox Gallery this week, featuring original works of art by students from eight local schools.

This year they have taken inspiration from the sculpture, Bird, by Dame Elisabeth Frink, a modern sculpture piece from The Ingram Collection.

Since 2011, The Lightbox has worked with local schools on the Centrepiece project, resulting in a show that presents the students’ work. The free exhibition will be on display until 1 September 2019.

The Bird in The Ingram Collection

Frink (1930-1993) was one of Britain’s leading 20th century sculptors who had a huge interest in sculpting animals. The Bird in The Ingram Collection is a development from her early birds series.

Students from Fullbrook School, Peter Pan Nursery and Forest School, The Marist Catholic Primary School, The Grange Community Infant School, St Paul’s C of E Primary School, Beaufort Primary School, Kingfield Primary School and Broadmere Primary Academy have all been working to create original works of art inspired by Bird.

PROFESSIONAL dancers from BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice and Gorka Marquez, are heading to Woking to strut their stuff.

Taking Strictly to a new level: (l-r) Giovanni Pernice, Aljaž Škorjanec and Gorka Marquez

The trio’s new show, Here Come The Boys, aims to demonstrate why they are considered the rock stars of dance.

Unlike other Strictly stage shows, this is set in a club where the resident DJ will spin a soundtrack of dancefloor anthems, club classics and guilty pleasures while Aljaž, Giovanni and Gorka go head to head in a battle of Latin, ballroom, commercial and contemporary dance disciplines – with the audience judging the contest each night.

In addition, the show will feature live vocals from Elizabeth Troy, formerly with Clean Bandit. Here Come The Boys arrives at the New Victoria Theatre on Sunday, 30 June