Young people

Sixty Explorer Scouts took part recently in Woking District’s annual two-day Expedition Challenge.

The route led competitive teams of four or five scouts, aged 14 to 18, on a 45-kilometre hike. They carried all their equipment, including food and cooking gear for the weekend, and wore costumes of their team’s choice, such as the Spice Girls, French onion sellers and bananas.

Whimsically dressed Explorer Scouts enjoy a well earned meal after the first day of the expedition

The teams had to catch a train early on Saturday, from Woking to their start point at Liphook station. They then had to navigate onto the South Downs and to West Harting Down, before ending the day at their campsite in Rogate. There they cooked and enjoyed meals such as spicy chorizo sausages and pasta, and meatballs and rice.

After a cold but frost-free night’s sleep and surviving the clocks going forward, the teams spent a damp and overcast second day hiking back to Liphook and the return train to Woking.

During the expedition, the Scouts had to complete a project based on their observations of the countryside and then give a humorous account of their findings.

The winning team represented the Explorer scouts at the Phoenix Unit in Byfleet.

For the special picture feature get the 11 April edition of the News & Mail

INLINE hockey is making its mark in north west Surrey, thanks to the exploits of the Avalanche club.

Based on the outskirts of Brookwood, Avalanche are fast becoming a hit with freestyle roller skaters, as well as more seasoned ice hockey players.

Members of Bisley-based Avalanche Inline Hockey club with their coaches at the Lord Roberts Centre

While inline hockey may not necessarily be on the tip of most people’s tongue, the sport is one of the fastest growing local sports.

Founded in the 1960s in Texas, USA, inline hockey is proving to be complimentary and an attractive alternative to field hockey and ice hockey disciplines in the UK.

Ashley Tombs, owner and head coach Avalanche at the Lord Roberts Centre in Brookwood, believes that inline puck hockey, which is non-contact, could become common place if more investment is forthcoming.

He said: “I used to watch Guildford Flames (ice hockey) when I was younger, but when I found out about Ash Avalanche, as it was known then, I became hooked on inline (hockey).

“Due to the limited number of inline rinks in the country, it doesn’t receive the same attention as other sports. 

“However, Woking is lucky, as there are two dedicated venues within just a short drive of the town, so there’s plenty of opportunity to try it out,” he added. 

Although the concept of inline hockey is akin to the common rules used in ice hockey, players use inline rollerblades on a hardened rubber surface instead of ice-skates.

Inline hockey is also a unisex sport and is played with four outfield players and one goaltender, which differs from ice hockey and field hockey teams that contain six and eleven players respectively. 

“A lot of players that play inline have come from ice hockey, as opposed to the other way around,” explained Tombs.

Young Avalanche players during a Friday training session

“I’m a big believer that I can improve the performance of ice hockey players through playing inline, not least of all be able to hone their strength and skating abilities.  After all, a lot of players who play ice hockey don’t experience full contact (body checking) until they’re 15 years old now.”

Since taking over at Ash Avalanche five years ago, Tombs morphed the old club into its new incarnation in 2017, which has seen the club grow exponentially.

Such is the rising popularity of the sport locally, Tombs is now working to a five-year goal for Avalanche to have its own purpose-built inline rink within Woking or a neighbouring borough by 2024.

For more information about Avalanche, please inquire via their Facebook page at

For the full story get the 4 April edition of the News & Mail

A NEW £6 million sports hall and all-weather pitch at Gordon’s School will be available for use by residents to play sports such as badminton, basketball and indoor cricket.

The hall at the secondary school in West End will have enough space for four badminton courts, changing rooms, a café, first aid room and storage.

The new sports hall will allow the school to take part in more competitive events at all levels and will enable students to participate in a sporting activity whatever the weather

The development, which will be funded by the Gordon Foundation, was approved Environment Secretary Michael Gove last week.

Plans had been passed by Surrey Heath Borough Council and then had to go to Mr Gove because the development is above the size permitted on Green Belt Land and not in the local plan.

A spokesman for the school said the new facilities will allow its pupils to take part in more competitive events at all levels, whatever the weather.

“Students currently take part in over 22 extracurricular sporting activities,” she added. “The all-weather floodlit pitch will enable the PE programme to be expanded to include sports such as basketball, badminton and volleyball.”

Jamie Sinclair, the school’s head of house, will be taking part in the London Marathon to raise funds for the facility.

For the full story, see the 21 February edition of the News & Mail

A JOYFUL production of the stage version of the musical Grease by The Winston Churchill School played to packed houses at The Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

THE T-BIRDS: Kenickie (Andrew), Sonny (Olly), Doody (Ethan) and Roger (Matt)

A flurry of colour, music, and classic hand jive moves was performed by a cast of 180, guided by a dedicated team of drama and music teachers.

For many audience members, the T-Birds’ performance of Greased Lightnin’ was a highlight. Many of the female roles, including the Pink Ladies were shared between girls. Each performer brimmed with feisty attitude and sweet excitement, and handled their musical numbers with power and maturity.

THE ONE THAT I WANT: Sandy (Jess) and Danny (William)

The backstage team of students was led by stage manager Jake, while others handled lighting, sound, and special effects, under the direction of former students.

Students and staff worked side by side in the pit band to electrify this ambitious musical and keep the audience singing along.

You couldn’t help but walk away from this show with a buzz of energy and emotion, as the cast shared their joy and filled the theatre with a touch of stardust.

For the full story and picture spread get the 14 February edition of the News & Mail

THE WOKING Music Festival season came to a triumphant end last Saturday with the prestigious Young Musician of the Year Competition which was held in front of an enthusiastic audience, which included the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Will Forster, at Christ Church Woking. 

Young Musician of the Year 17 year old Sophie Kauer (centre) with fellow contestants (from left) Zac Brandman, Hollie Tibbotts, Felix Rockhill, Iman Kashim, Annie McCrystal, Clem Pickering, Phoebe Baxendale, Christian Leslie, Rhia Thomas and Eleanor Bray

The winner, was Sophie Kauer, a 17-year-old cellist, who began lessons at the age of 8 and entered the Junior Division of the Royal Academy of Music before she turned 10. Sophie came second in the Woking competition last year.

Clem Pickering, also 17, on viola was awarded second place, with 16-year-old pianist Annie McChrystal in third place.

The adjudicator was Jonathan Willcocks who is currently Musical Director of Guildford Choral Society, The Chichester Orchestra and Southern Pro Musica and is Festival Conductor for the Leith Hill Musical Festival.  His compositions encompass large scale orchestral scores and chamber music in addition to many choral works. He has been engaged in musical activities throughout the world.

Woking Young Musician of the Year Sophie Kauer

Willcocks praised all those competing, saying: “The standard of performance from all of the seven finalists for the Woking Young Musician of the Year was really outstanding, and in cellist Sophie Kauer we have a truly worthy winner.

“It is a mark of the prestige of this 40-year-old Award that attracts annually such a strong field from the finest young musicians in the South of England.”

For information on how to take part in the 2019 Woking Music Festival in November, visit or email

For the full story and pictures, pick up this week’s edition of the News & Mail (Feb 7th).