A CAMPAIGNER for deaf people was celebrating the imminent passing of a law to recognise British Sign Language as a language of England, Wales and Scotland in its own right. Claire Cummings, a deaf woman who lives in Horsell, has been an active member of the BSL Act Now Campaign. 

The Private Member’s Bill received crucial government support and was approved by the Commons and sent to the Lords, where it had to pass before getting Royal Assent. 

Woking campaigners were one of the first deaf groups in the country to meet their MP to drum up support for the bill and Jonathan Lord was among the first Conservative MPs to express his backing.

SWEET SUCCESS – The Little Bakers group raised thousand of pounds at cake sales to help displaced Ukrainian families. They were visited by the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, and his wife Sarah, when they sold goodies they had made at Mayford Athletic Football Club, raising more than £1,000. Also pictured is football club chairman Geoff Newman. (Picture supplied)

PEOPLE living in a flats complex that has flammable material in the external cladding were horrified at their service charges being increased by thousands of pounds. Leaseholders in New Central’s eight multi-storey blocks, of Guildford Road, Woking, were having to pay steeper insurance fees mainly because of the heightened fire risk. 

Charlotte Sefton, who bought an apartment in the Cardinal Place block in January 2021, said: “When I bought my flat I was quoted approximately £2,500 for the service charge across the year, including ground rent of £350. 

“Due to this insurance scandal, I’ve paid around £7,000 in the first year alone, which is completely untenable.”

MAUREEN Osborne, 98, took control of a helicopter during a flying lesson at Fairoaks Airport in Chobham, a present from her eldest son. “It was thrilling,” said Maureen, from West Byfleet. “I enjoyed it very much. They told me I was the oldest person to have a lesson. 

“Everything went perfectly. The lesson was half an hour, and I took over the controls as we landed.” Maureen is the author of six books and for many years wrote plays for the BBC Schools programmes. 

Maureen added: “I was in the services during the war and after that worked in London and then Twickenham, as secretary to the borough librarian.”


THE Liberal Democrats took control of Woking Borough Council for the first time in almost 25 years after a landslide victory in the local elections. The Conservatives, who had run a minority administration, lost all five seats up for election – three to the Lib Dems and two to Independents. 

This left the Lib Dems with 16 out of the borough’s 30 councillors. Group leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker was later elected leader of the council. The Tories went down to eight councillors, their lowest ever in the history of the council.

CIVIC HONOUR – Villagers and business owners gathered in Knaphill to congratulate their borough councillor, Saj Hussain, on becoming Mayor of Woking. He described becoming the borough's first citizen as "a great honour and privilege". (Picture supplied)

WOKING Foodbank was “on a cliff edge” as the cost-of-living crisis began to bite, according to its co-ordinator, Alison Buckland. With inflation at a 30-year high and the Bank of England warning that it could hit double figures before the end of the year, Alison said: “It’s the feeling that a lot of people are just about managing. 

“They’ve got through the pandemic perhaps on some savings, or with loans, or other help, but things are getting more difficult still. We’re not the only charity to have this impression, that increasing numbers just won’t be able to cope anymore.”

A FORMER Winston Churchill School pupil who inspired the nation to donate more than £7million for cancer research in a few days was invested as a dame by Prince William during a visit to her parents’ home in south Woking. 

Dame Deborah James, 40, was undergoing end-of-life care for bowel cancer while staying with parents Heather and Alistair. 

Known on social media as Bowelbabe, Dame Deborah recorded a BBC podcast, You, Me and the Big C, and was an online columnist for The Sun newspaper. 

Dame Deborah was a teacher, rising to deputy head at The Matthew Arnold School in Staines before cancer made it difficult to carry on. She died in June.


THE Lighthouse received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest honour given to a local voluntary group in the UK and the equivalent of an MBE. 

The charity, from its premises in the town centre and in Barnsbury, hosts a range of community projects for those in need.

These include the Woking Foodbank and the Jigsaw baby bank, as well as offering a clothing bank, debt advice and cooking classes. The organisation has some 300 volunteers. 

Rebecca Jespersen, co-founder of The Lighthouse with her husband, Erik, said: “I am delighted that the dedication and generosity of our volunteers has been recognised.”

SPECIAL DAY – Halstead Preparatory School provided a royal carriage photo booth for the nursery to Year 5 pupils. It was just one of a host of celebrations across the area to mark the Queen's 70th year as monarch. (Halstead Prep)

A CHARITY that helped thousands of people cope with mental health problems announced it was to close due to shortage of money to run its services. Woking Mind said it is “proving extremely challenging to raise sufficient funds” to continue. 

“The closure is a stark warning of the devastating impact that lack of funding can have for charities, which in turn affects those most in need of help,” said the chair of its trustees, Peter Christmas. 

The charity – which is independent of the national Mind organisation – was founded in 1979. It provided support groups, talking therapies, drop-in sessions, wellbeing courses and activities across Surrey.

PHOTOGRAPHERS both professional and amateur were reeling at the news that the last supplier of their equipment in the Woking area was closing down.

Harpers Photographic, the oldest independent shop in the town centre, shut after suffering an irrecoverable loss of trade during the coronavirus pandemic and was struggling to meet its costs. 

The closure of the 97-year-old company also meant that Woking has no processor of traditional camera films or company that can provide photographic enlargements. 

The shop in Wolsey Walk closed following the unexpected death of its owner, Martyn Rees, in January. The decision to liquidate the business was taken in consultation with his widow, Ann, and daughter Susanna.