WHEN Monica Cobbett wondered how to celebrate her ninetieth birthday in style, her daughter came up with a spectacular answer: a skydive.

Intrepid adventurer Monica Cobbett ready for her first skydive a few days after her ninetieth birthday

Monica, Woking born and bred but now living in Horsell, said: “I’d had a go at Formula Ford driving at Thruxton a few years ago and we’d been thinking about what to do next. That’s when Sarah-Jane, my daughter, gave me the parachute jump as a birthday present.

“I’ve always been prepared to get involved and you only go this way once, so I thought, ‘Why not?’

“I did the jump at Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury, at the end of last month and it was on a lovely day. We did all the preliminaries, watched the video, being strapped to the instructor, how to land.

Monica comes in for a graceful landing courtesy of instructor Gary

“There were seven of us on the plane and we had an instructor each. I was with Gary, and he had a video camera attached to his wrist to film it all.”

What about when the time came to jump? Were there any doubts?

“I had to go then, didn’t I? We went up to 7,000 feet, then it was freefall for the first 10 seconds. When the parachute opened everything was so peaceful, the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

“Gary looked after the landing, but overall I think I surprised myself about how cool I stayed!”

For the full story get the 13 June edition of the News & Mail

The baddie is back. Craig Revel Horwood delighted in taunting Woking panto audiences as the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella last Christmas – and now he’s returning in another  villainous role.

The Strictly judge is heading to the New Victoria Theatre to star as one of the best musical theatre baddies audiences love to hate, reprising his version of Miss Hannigan, in Annie.

PLAY IT AGAIN – Craig Revel Horwood delights in the role of headmistress Miss Hannigan in Annie

“I just love this character so much,” he enthuses. “I am deeply in love with her. I think she is absolutely fantastic and an extremely misunderstood woman.

“Playing her is like an actor’s playground – she’s a tyrant and a villain, and those are always the most fun characters to play. I couldn’t believe that they wanted me to play Miss Hannigan at first, but I thought it would be great, and a real challenge for me.

“I play her for real – she’s not a pantomime dame, there’s no mucking about or breaking the fourth wall, she’s a very real character in a beautifully written show.”

Following his panto success, Craig is not daunted by playing another female character either.

“Well the challenges are that you need to be honest and real with it,” he muses. “Obviously body language has a lot to do with that, also the placement of the voice, and the accent of course – which I spent six months perfecting.

“As Annie is set in 1930s New York, it’s really nice to play a part who speaks differently than almost anyone does these days. It was a really enjoyable challenge.”

The musical is set during the Great Depression, and brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage.

Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…

Along the way, theatre-goers can expect to hear unforgettable songs like It’s the Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow. 

Craig says performing in such a well known show is a dream.

“I grew up on musicals,” he explains. “I did West Side Story in Australia and then went into Me and My Girl and La Cage Aux Folles. I joined the famous Lido de Paris and the Moulin Rouge and then that led into being part of West End shows.

“The last musical I appeared in in the West End was Crazy For You which opened in 1993. I had a really fun year that year. I then left to become a director and choreographer, and subsequently a judge on Strictly.

“My first hoorah back onto the boards was when I was asked to do panto ten years ago, and that reignited my passion for performing again really. When I was then asked to do Annie a few years ago I couldn’t believe it, but it’s such a talented cast, I couldn’t say no!”

And even though the old acting adage says you should never work with children and animals, he’s doing both in Annie.

“We have three sets of children on Annie, so they bring something really organic to the show,” says the man whose other West End theatre credits include Munkustrap in Cats, Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Harry in Crazy for You at the Prince Edward Theatre. “You’ll never get the same show twice.

“You have to play it differently with each set of children and they are so talented and doing incredible work on the stage and are all fantastic young actors. They will come up with stuff and you’ve got to react to it live on stage which is a bit of a challenge!”

Craig Revel Horwood will star in Annie at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (10 June) until Saturday 15 June.

The Illegal Eagles fly in to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre on Sunday 23 June to run through hits like Hotel California, Take it to the Limit, Life in the Fast Lane, Take It Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, Desperado and more.

Tribute to The Eagles

This UK tribute act have been touring for over two decades and remain true fanatics of legendary US west coast country rockers The Eagles.

Their longevity and continued international acclaim mean they must be doing something right in their bid to master their heroes’ distinctive sound.

DOG owners turned out in force to celebrate the 100th birthday of a veteran volunteer at Millbrook Animal Centre.

They fulfilled Sally Field’s wish to stage a 100-dog walk at the Chobham RSPCA establishment on Saturday.

Jenny took three dogs on the walk

Sally was delighted that the event made for than £500 the charity’s funds, through donations and sales of cakes and other refreshments.

“She was really pleased with the number of people who arrived to take part, and it was a lovely occasion,” said Jo Douglas from the centre.

Sally Field with her special cake and the sign photograph of Cliff Richard she received on her 100th birthday

The volunteers who helped organise and run the walk enjoyed sharing a special birthday cake donated by Amy’s Cake Creations.

Sally’s 100th birthday was last December but she decided to wait until the spring for her 100-dog celebration.

She has been volunteering at Millbrook for 45 years, and drivers herself to the centre from her home in Addlestone on two days most weeks.

In honour of reaching her century, Sally recently attended a garden party in the presence of the Queen at Buckingham Palace. She was accompanied by Jackie Huston, who has been a volunteer at the RSPCA for 41 years.

See more pictures in today’s (6 June) edition of the News & Mail

BOYS and girls from the Woking area joined more than 500 fledgling Scouts and their leaders from across Surrey for a Beavers Go Wild camp at Bentley Copse Activity Centre.

Beavers with some “friends” they met in the woods

Members of West Byfleet, 8th Woking, 1st Send, 1st Knaphill, Goldsworth Park, 1st St John’s and Brookwood Scout groups enjoyed a weekend of camping and activities.

More than 50 opportunities were on offer, including archery, go-karts, climbing, caving, assault course, firelighting. The Beavers – aged six to eight – also got to learn about malaria from the Surrey Scouts international team.

A group of intrepid Beavers prepare to take on the climbing wall

Six-year-old James said: “I had lots of fun and I enjoyed the cave maze best.”

Sarah, aged seven, added: “The best bit of the weekend was the climbing. I was scared at first, but I got to the top.”

The assistant county commissioner for Beaver Scout, Denise Iverson, commented: “It was great meeting all the youngsters and seeing over 500 Beavers and leaders have a great time.”

See the special picture feature in today’s (6 June) edition of the News & Mail

PUBS, bars and restaurants across the borough are being encouraged to join an initiative that can lead towards being acclaimed as Woking’s best licensed premises.

The recognition could come in the 2019 Woking Best Bar None accreditation and awards scheme, which was launched on Tuesday last week.

National Best Bar None co-ordinator Mick McDonnell, Tom Hardy from Asahi UK and Cllr Kevin Davis

Representatives from last year’s winners and other businesses gathered with borough councillors and supporters for the event at the Woking head office of the lead sponsor, Asahi UK.

Best Bar None is a national scheme supported by the Home Office and the drinks industry. It aims to promote the responsible management and operation of licensed premises that support Woking’s vibrant and diverse night-time economy, while strengthening partnership working between licensed premises and public bodies.

To become accredited, licensed premises must first be assessed process to determine whether they meet an agreed set of operational standards. Once accepted, they will become either a gold, silver or bronze Woking Best Bar None accredited venue.

Gold businesses are entered for awards in six categories, with the winners chosen by a panel of independent judges. In addition, members of the public can vote for their favourite venue in the Woking News & Mail People’s Choice Award.

The categories are:

• Overall Best Bar None

• Woking News & Mail’s Peoples’ Choice

• Best Town Centre Pub

• Best Local Pub

• Best Bar

• Best Dining Experience

• Asahi UK Social Responsibility Award.

Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for economic development, Cllr Kevin Davis, commented: “Woking Best Bar None is a fantastic initiative that’s aimed at improving standards in licensed venues across the borough to help create a vibrant, thriving and safe environment for both customers and venues.

“Following the success of last year’s scheme, where 11 licensed premises achieved gold accreditation, I would encourage all local pubs, bars and restaurants to apply.

“Achieving accreditation, either gold, silver or bronze, demonstrates the seriousness and commitment with which you operate your business. It’s a superb way to build your reputation both publicly and within the trade.”

The overall winner for 2018 was The Garibaldi pub at Knaphill, which also got the Best Local Pub and the Asahi UK Social Responsibility awards.

The News & Mail award was won by The Red Lion pub at Horsell. The Best Town Centre Pub was The Sovereigns, Cellar Magneval in Church Path, Woking, was Best Bar and The Cricketers at Horsell got the Best Dining Experience prize.

Licensed premises can sign up to Woking Best Bar None by visiting www.wokingbbn.co.uk.

For more pictures see the 30 May edition of the News & Mail

FUN and fundraising were the aims of the dog show at Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham on Sunday last week.

The event made a total of £5,200 for the RSPCA, as dozens of owners and their pets turned up to take part.

Members of the Mortlock and Frankland families and friends with their dogs.

Extra classes were added to the show this year, due to the high number of entries in 2018. Dogs of all types were welcome – pedigree, non-pedigree or “mix-up”.

Judging took place throughout the afternoon in three different, with prizes for star canines ranging from Perfect Puppy to Best Rescue Dog.

Entrants were also able to show off with classes called Best Three Tricks and How Many Sits in 30 Seconds and have a go at fun agility sessions.

Apart from entry fees, money was raised through volunteers selling refreshments, including cakes and burgers.

“It was a good day all round and well supported,” said Jocelyn Iveson from the centre. “We would like to thank all those who took part and helped on the day.”

For the more pictures get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail

A HIGHLY experienced senior healthcare manager has taken the role of chief executive at the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices on a fulltime, unpaid, basis.

Marian Imrie, who lives in Camberley and has an accountancy background, takes over at the hospices from Jayne Cooper, who was appointed to the role in May 2017 after seven months as interim CEO and director of nursing.

The new CEO of Woking and Sam Beare Hospices, Marian Imrie

The News & Mail reported two weeks ago that half of 627 people questioned in a recent survey did not know that the hospice is a charity and more than a third had no idea how it is funded.

Marian said that only a small proportion of the income comes from public funds. The vast majority of funding comes from donations, fundraising events and the hospice shops.

Tim Stokes, the hospices chairman, said that Jayne had decided to step down and thanked her on behalf of all the trustees.

“Her leadership has steered the hospices through a period of great change culminating in the relocation of services to its current facility in Goldsworth Park.

“Jayne has managed this transition with great efficiency ensuring that the exemplary care that we provide for our patients and their families in both the community and within the hospice has been maintained at the highest level. She has been actively engaged with our communities in the important work of promoting the role and the nature of hospice care in addition to shaping the development of its longer-term strategy.”

Tim said that Marian brings a “wealth of general and commercial management experience in the healthcare sector to her new role.”

For the full story get the 30 May edition of the News & Mail

Grease is the word…and you can join in when Sing-a-long-a Grease comes to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Tuesday (28 May).

Basically a screening of the classic film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, the show aims to get the audience up and singing along to all the hits that made it one of the most successful movie musicals of all time.

The evening will begin with the host leading a vocal warm-up before the movie – and fancy dress is very much encouraged…

RUSSELL Kane has added an extra run of dates to his new tour The Fast and the Curious, which is good news for comedy fans in Woking as he’s now heading to the New Victoria Theatre on Thursday 30 May.

The award-winning comic, presenter, actor, social media star, author and scriptwriter’s most recent appearances include his hit TV show BBC Three’s Stupid Man, Smart Phone, BBC podcast Evil Genius, JOE podcast Boys Don’t Cry (which returned for a second series in February), BBC Two’s Live At The Apollo and BBC One’s Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.

ACTION MAN – Russell Kane will be in Woking for an evening of high-energy comedy

Russell also recently took part in the return of Celebrity Apprentice for Comic Relief, which was broadcast on BBC One in March in the run up to Red Nose Day.

He is also well known for his viral Facebook Kaneing videos, which have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.