WWF Living Planet Centre

THIS SUMMER holiday saw 12-year-old Izaak Yeoman as a boy with a mission as he set off with and his dad, Gregory, from the World Wildlife Fund’s UK head office in Woking to its offices in Gland Switzerland on a 600-mile bike ride.

Gregory Yeoman and son Izaak, 12, set off from WWF’s Living Planet Centre in Woking, Surrey, on a 600-mile bike ride to the organisation’s Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, to raise over £5,000 to protect endangered pangolins.

They are well on their way to exceeding their target of £5,000 to raise funds to protect pangolins, the world’s most illegally trafficked species, which the charity includes in its work to prevent the international trade of illegal species.

Inspired by their dedication, environmentalist and broadcast icon Sir David Attenborough wished the pair “every success with their ride” and said in a letter to them that he was “impressed by their dedication to help protect pangolins”.

Pangolins, native to Asia and Africa, are the most trafficked mammal in the world, sought after for their meat and unique scales. In the last 10 years, over one million pangolins have been illegally taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam.

Donations are open via Izaak and Gregory’s page with Virgin Money at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/YeomansForPangolins. To learn more about the endangered pangolins, please visit www.wwf.org.uk.

For the full story get the 1 August edition of the News & Mail

AN ENTHUSIASTIC crowd of invited guests celebrated the vital contributions of those always prepared to go the extra mile at the Woking Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The event, organised for the fifth year by Greenoak Community Focus and Greenoak Housing Association, was held at the WWF Living Planet Centre, where nominees and members of more than 20 local charities gathered to hear this year’s winners announced.

Volunteer of the Year, Tom Landais of Cornerhouse with Cllr Will Forster and Diana Kingdon, chief executive of Greenoak housing association

They were welcomed in the opening address by Woking Mayor Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, who spoke in praise of the “fantastic work that you all do”.

The winner of Volunteer of the Year Award was Tom Ladais, a support group worker at CornerHouse. Tom regularly supports depression and anxiety groups and helps the staff in delivering themed wellbeing courses.

Winner of the Young Volunteer of the Year award, Tim Nugent-Young from Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, with Cllr Will Forster and Lady Gill Baker, chairman of Greenoak Community Focus

As winner, Tom received a cheque for £2,500 for his charity and a personal gift voucher of £50. The three runners-up received a cheque for £500 for their charity and a personal gift of £25.

Tim Nugent-Young was named Young Volunteer of the Year, an award in recognition of dedicated young volunteers aged 16-25 who have demonstrated outstanding commitment. Tim received a £1,000 cheque for the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, where he supports a group of male outpatients who attend day care and helps at fundraising events.

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

MEL Hemmings is someone who matches her thoughts and words with actions. Which is why her commitment to a sustainable environment has led to her setting up Bare + Fair, Woking’s first zero waste shop.

The Woking mother of three is now able to meet customers’ needs with a whole range of products from reusable straws, cups and bottles to tooth tabs and bamboo toothbrushes. She has a stall in Woking town centre’s Mercia Walk every Saturday morning and is now working with local businesses and outlets.

A proud Mel Hemmings showcases her sustainable wares at her new stall in Mercia Walk every Saturday

It’s been less than a year since she thought: “There are so many zero waste shops popping up around the country, I just wish there was somewhere like that in Woking.”

It was that germ of an idea which led her to launching Bare + Fair herself.

“It is exciting to have finally launched and to have received such an enthusiastic response from the public and from other local businesses and charities!” said Mel.

Just like any start-up Mel has found the whole process of setting up a business challenging: “I’ve been really grateful for the support there’s been for business start-ups. It helped that I signed up with the start-up club at Woking Works. It’s been really encouraging to meet other people who are in a sense in a similar position in terms of launching a business.”

However, unlike many other businesses, there’s hardly an area of her home life with husband Will and their children, Eva, Zoe and Theo, that hasn’t been a testing area for Mel’s project since she went to the WWF Living Planet Centre last year for a talk about how we live our lives at home and the impact it has on the environment.

“I had been increasingly concerned about what was going on with the planet – global warming, all the plastic waste and things and I didn’t really think there was much I could do about it. This really inspired me to just do what I could at home,” recalls Mel.

The initial target was to reduce the family’s household waste but while they had found this first step straight forward, it became more difficult to find the right products.

Mel offers her expertise to a customer

Her experience has shown her that one of the most valuable things she can offer her customers is her personal advice either in person or on social media. “I want to have the face to face with customers because I found that really helpful when I’ve tried out new products, to be able to talk with someone who’s already tried it.”

“It can be overwhelming so my take away is: It’s better to do something in the right direction than doing nothing at all. Just take it one step at a time especially if you’ve got a whole family to get on board.”

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