Council calls for everyone to play their part

We know many of our residents and businesses are taking necessary precautions and making all the necessary sacrifices to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – thank you. We are also aware that there are a few people who are choosing to not follow the guidance on staying at home and social distancing and we strongly urge everyone to play their part.

Government guidance states we should all – unless we are keyworkers – be staying at home. Unless we are self-isolating or a vulnerable group we can still leave the house for essential groceries and to get important exercise. When we leave the house we must maintain a distance of at least two metres (approximately six feet) from others who are not from your household. Public Health England and the NHS explain coronavirus as a respiratory virus which is thought to be transferred by the inhalation or ingestion of particles from an infected person, including those spread by coughing or sneezing.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves says:

“The safety and health of our residents and businesses are our top priority. These are uncertain times, becoming more challenging by the day, but I want to reassure people that we are doing all we can to ensure we continue to deliver essential services, and support our communities as best we can. We are here as your local authority, and I am confident we will get through this by working together.

“We need you all to play your part too. Keep handwashing for at least 20 seconds and do so regularly. Please make sure you follow the guidance and don’t meet in groups to socialise with people outside your household. We understand how difficult this is, especially for children and teenagers who from today are no longer at school, College and University. But if we do not stick to the guidance the virus will spread more quickly, putting our vulnerable groups at further risk and greater pressure on the NHS. We have today taken the sad but necessary decision to close all playgrounds in the borough, but our parks and countryside sites remain open for use. Please use them and stay two metres from others."

She said: “The community spirit that we have seen is overwhelming and heart-warming. I’ve been overjoyed to see how people are already pulling together and offering help, and I give heart-felt thanks to everybody for the assistance they are offering. Please do this in a safe and coordinated way without putting yourself or others at risk – Voluntary Action South West Surrey are coordinating, so please contact them. Also continue to think of those less able and more vulnerable than ourselves first, particularly when buying food.

“I urge everybody to follow only trusted sources for the latest information, such as the NHS website. Our own website and social media pages will also be regularly updated with essential information and details of any changes to our services.”

Carol Dunnett, Chief Officer for Voluntary Action South West Surrey, says: "We are incredibly pleased to see the compassion shown already in Guildford with people rallying offers of help for groups that due to the outbreak might now be isolated and at risk. If you or anyone you know would like help or need help or know someone who would benefit from help - please get in touch. We also have the skills and experience to advise groups on how to offer safe and coordinated help for example getting Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record checks."

She added: "Please do be aware that every offer of help is valuable. We currently have more offers of help than we have those to help but this changing every day. Please bear with us if we aren’t able to connect you with others who need help immediately. This is a marathon rather than a sprint, please rest assured we will coordinate as soon as those in need are all identified and will be in touch."

Ideas for Mothers' Day on the Surrey Hills

Stepping Stones at Box Hill

Come rain or shine, there’s lots to do on the Surrey Hills to celebrate our Mums this Mothering Sunday; from gentle strolls admiring the views, longer hikes with grown up children, to sitting in the spring sunshine enjoying a slice of home-made cake. 

If the weather is bright and breezy, pack a picnic and a rug and head out to Frensham Little Pond – too chilly to paddle, but the glorious sandy stretch of beach is a must-visit spring time treat. Or head over to Bookham Commons where children will love the Natural Play Trail as well as sitting a while in the bird hide. At some secluded spots, you might see the emergence of early spring flowers – the bluebells at Gatton Park are a glorious sight, as is the wild garlic which freely grows along the River Mole at the Stepping Stones at Box Hill

The hidden gem of the Surrey Hills is the Rhododendron Wood at Leith Hill. Spring heralds the unfurling of the most beautifully scented and wildly coloured azaleas and rhododendrons. Some trees here are thought to have been brought back from Asia on plant hunting expeditions in the nineteenth century.

There are plenty of Mothering Sunday walks to choose from – plan your visit on the various National Trust websites, or pick up a copy of their walks guides from Box Hill, Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl or Frensham Little Pond. Don’t forget to share your photos of your fun family day on the National Trust Surrey Hills Facebook page.

‘Oh, yes we are’ …over the moon!

This year’s Epsom Playhouse pantomime, Peter Pan, has made the shortlist for the ‘best show’ in the national Great British Pantomime Awards.

Produced by Spillers Pantomimes, Peter Pan played to packed houses and was the most popular panto ever staged at the Epsom Playhouse.

Peter Pan will be competing against Robin Hood (Lincoln), Jack & the Beanstalk (Loughborough), Aladdin (Shrewsbury) and Sleeping Beauty (Swindon).

The winners will be announced at a spectacular awards ceremony in April. 

The judging team visited over 200 pantomimes across the country during December and January, visiting in excess of 750 performances. The judging panel included current and retired industry professionals; theatre academics as well as media and communications professionals. The performances were marked against a number of criteria and quality benchmarks.

Bev Berridge of Spillers said “All of us at Spillers Pantomimes are delighted to have picked up, not one, but two nominations at this year’s pantomime awards. Going up against all the theatres in the UK we are so excited that our production at the Epsom Playhouse has been selected. This goes to show that the team work and effort behind the staging of this year’s Peter Pan really paid off. This year’s pantomime was a very challenging production and much hard work went into creating this complex show.  Luckily there is a fabulous team at the Epsom Playhouse, not only all the cast, but the backstage crew, the juvenile dancers, the management and even the fabulous stewards. All these people working together with one aim, to give the people of Epsom a fabulous fun Christmas show and it has paid off. To be nominated for the award for best pantomime in the country is really beyond our wildest dreams.  

“Well done and thanks, to everyone who was a part of this real success story. Special congratulations must also go to our fabulous Tinkerbell, Kate Richards. This year’s cast where all super talented but Kate has deservedly been nominated as best Pantomime Fairy in the UK”

Councillor Barry Nash, Chair of the council’s Community and Wellbeing Committee, said “This is the first time one of our pantomimes has made it to the short list and illustrates the strong reputation of our theatre, the Spillers name within the industry, the talent of the cast and crew and all of the hard work of our Epsom Playhouse team.

“The success of our commercial shows enable us to support community activities at the Playhouse and the large audiences attending good quality shows like Peter Pan, generate business for local restaurants bars and shops”.


The Limpsfield Cookery School is officially open for culinary business

The Old Printworks in Limpsfield Village (opposite Memorial Stores) has been given a new lease of life for a creative new enterprise, The Limpsfield Cookery School. Founded by local resident, Jacqueline Derbyshire, this exciting new school launched last month and provides a variety of culinary classes for small groups of all abilities. 

Jacqui, a former stockbroker, has always been passionate about cooking, particularly baking, and having retired from her city job and attended many cookery schools herself over the years, she decided to fulfil a lifelong dream to open a cookery school to offer a purpose built, village centric school that she hopes will become a key part of the Limpsfield community. 

The old printworks has now undergone a culinary transformation into a beautiful school separated into three zones: a classroom with 8 ovens, main demonstration kitchen and plus a socialising and decorating room. 

“It’s really exciting and a little daunting to see it all up and running,” said Jacqui. ”We’ve successfully held our first courses and have received really positive feedback with lots of enquiries now coming in for classes over the next couple of months. We will also be running children’s 3-day cookery courses over the Easter holidays, which I’m personally really looking forward to.”

The school held its first course on Wednesday 12 February with pâtissier and author, Lucie Bennett hosting a Valentine’s Chocolate Day, which resulted in some amazing and delicious chocolate hearts and champagne truffles for Valentine’s gifts. This was followed by a beginners’ pastry day with students creating some mouth-watering savoury pastries, including quiches and sausage rolls. 

There are many courses coming up in late February and March, including some fabulous Indian Cuisine classes with Jaya Malani and an Indian Supper Club. The school’s official Head Chef, Oliver Thompson, will be travelling between Limpsfield and his home and business in Cornwall to host some of the school’s Master Classes. 

Ollie, an award-winning chef who has trained at some of the top 3-star Michelin restaurants around the world, is hosting the meat, fish and fine dining master classes and will also run some of the supper clubs. Andy Tyrell, former head chef of River Cottage will also be taking a bread master class. 

The Limpsfield Cookery School Chefs also include vegan chef, Jenny Chandler; Jaya Malani and Pamela Chen teaching Asian Fusion and Indian Cuisine; Andy Tyrell teaching Artisan bread-making; Patisserie chef and author, Lucie Bennett purveying patisserie and chocolate skills and sugar craft expert, Sue Wilcox on cake decorating duty. Jacqui will also be taking some beginners pastry and baking classes. 

Classes are either half or full day, with a maximum of 8 students per class and students will take home everything they create to wow friends and family! Tel: 07909 960046 FB & Instagram: @thelimpsfieldcookeryschool

West End Stage summer school launches a new scholarship to support budding young performers

West End Stage is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion the ultimate week-long theatre summer school for 8 - 21 years olds is launching an annual scholarship to support budding young performers who might not otherwise be able to attend. 
Three means-tested scholarships will be available, each offering a day course place at West End Stage summer school this August. Those interested in applying should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 1 March explaining why they would like to attend West End Stage, and how the scholarship would be of benefit to them. Short-listed candidates will then be invited to attend a fun workshop-style audition in London on Saturday 4 April - no prior performing arts experience is needed, just a passion for musical theatre and a keen attitude to learn. West End Stage is keen to reach those in low income households, helping make the arts available to everyone, regardless of background or economic circumstances.  
All West End Stage tutors are West End performers who lead an exciting mix of drama, singing and dance classes, grouped according to age and ability. They challenge, support and encourage young performers to shine on a West End stage themselves. The highlight of the week is when students make their very own West End debut at Her Majesty’s Theatre, the world-famous home of The Phantom of the Opera. West End Stage students also head into the bright lights of London’s West End as they enjoy one of its most exciting productions, followed by a Q&A with some of the show’s cast members. There are also masterclasses with industry professionals, teaching skills such as stage combat, make up or acting for television. West End Stage takes place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, one of the top theatre schools in the world with state-of-the-art studios, theatres and concert halls.
West End Stage began with the aim of igniting a global passion for theatre, bringing together young people from all over the world through their shared love of performing. In 2019, 25% of students attended from outside the UK, coming from 52 countries, far and wide. Students build their confidence, learn new skills, make friends for life and have fun!
This year’s West End Stage runs from 10 - 16, 17 - 23, 24 - 30 August (Monday – Sunday), and there is an option for students to book accommodation. For more information about West End Stage, visit or YouTube @WestEndStageLondon.