This week I want to discuss some of the amazing arts, culture and sports community organisations we have here in Woking, and the support I am giving to this important sector. 

As I said in my first column, I sometimes want to showcase my engagement with community organisations that you may not ordinarily read about in this newspaper or on social media.

As many readers will know and appreciate, we are so fortunate in Woking to have The Lightbox – an award-winning art gallery and museum, based in the heart of our town and envied across Surrey.

The Lightbox’s ambition to deliver a programme of modern and contemporary visual art, tremendous outreach activity, the housing of the Ingram Collection and artefacts from Woking’s own historical journey is something we should cherish and be proud of. 

The Lightbox also provides a state-of-the-art educational facility that many schools from Woking and further afield make good use of – giving many children their first real introduction to art.

Woking Borough Council is proposing to remove all its funding to The Lightbox, which is obviously a huge blow. 

I have held several meetings with the outstanding team at The Lightbox and I was recently pleased to invite the deputy leader of Surrey County Council and cabinet member for communities, Councillor Denise Turner-Stewart, to The Lightbox to see everything it has to offer, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

I will continue to work closely with The Lightbox team to support their efforts  to secure a positive future for this vital cultural asset.

I recently saw a quote which said the arts ‘teach us who we are and what we can be; they lie at the very core of the culture of which we are a part’. I think the impact of the arts is stronger than most of us realise and any major loss would leave a great void.

Most readers will know Woking is also home to some fantastic sporting teams – not least the grassroots football teams across our borough. Recently, I visited several of those fantastic teams and clubs.  

Across England, the government has recently invested £64 million into grassroots football, working alongside its Football Foundation partners the Premier League and the FA. I was thrilled that both Woking FC and Fullbrook School were successful in securing extra funding to support improvements to their grounds.

Grassroots facilities are essential for nurturing future sporting talent and for encouraging people to get active, thereby benefiting their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Recently, I was delighted to visit Westfield FC once again. They are a terrific team and a great community organisation and it was absolutely fantastic to see them win their FA Trophy game against Marlow with a winning goal in the last five minutes.

I also took time out to visit both Meadow FC, who play on the Loop Road playing fields, and Goldsworth Park Rangers. Both clubs held a hugely well-attended fundraising day for suicide prevention in memory of Gary Robertson. 

It was a beautiful sunny day with a large number of youth teams involved and it was great that they raised significant funds for such an important cause.  

Sport, arts and culture are often at the beating heart of our communities – and long may that continue to be the case.

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