Tales of unexplained phenomenon and magical witches and warriors win 2018 Blue Peter Book Awards

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell and Real-Life Mysteries written by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker, have been revealed as this year’s Blue Peter Book Award winners.

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, the immensely popular Blue Peter Book Awards honour amazing authors, imaginative illustrators and the best books for children, published in the last 12 months. The winning titles were voted for by over 500 children from 12 schools across the UK.

Winner of Best Story is: The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
Winner of Best Book with Facts is: Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker

Cowell’s latest book, chosen by children across the UK for the Best Story prize, tells the tale of Xar and Wish, a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught since birth to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Discussing the award Cressida said: “I am delighted, grateful and proud to have won this year’s Blue Peter Award for The Wizards of Once. Blue Peter was a huge part of my childhood, and I’m thrilled as nine-year-old me, as well as the grown-up author.

“The Wizards of Once was 5 years of research, writing, re-writing and illustrating, and it’s nerve-wracking publishing a book set in a new world, so I’m especially gratified to receive this recognition. Thank you so much to the kids who took the time to read and vote, the teachers and librarians who do so much to support the award in schools, BookTrust for all their dedicated organisation, and Blue Peter not only for setting up the award but for putting reading and creativity at the heart of its programming.  To Blue Peter viewers who enjoy reading, telling stories and drawing - keep going! We need you to be the writers and illustrators of the future.”

Winner of Best Books with Facts, Real-Life Mysteries explains case files backed up with evidence about the mysterious unsolved cases and encourages you to make up your own mind. From mysteries such as Shackleton's ghostly companion to the Loch Ness Monster.

Author Susan Martineau said: “I’m so thrilled that it was the Blue Peter viewers themselves who voted for the book. Blue Peter was not only my favourite programme when I was young, but my children’s too. It’s also so brilliant there is an award for a book with facts as well as a fiction prize. Non-fiction doesn’t just tell you stuff, it can fire your imagination and get you thinking in new ways too.”

Illustrator Vicky Barker said: “I am absolutely over the moon to have won the Blue Peter Book Award! I was a huge fan of Blue Peter as a child, so this is such a fantastic honour. Thank you to all of the budding new investigators that chose Real-Life Mysteries!”

Jo Law Literacy Coordinator at Church Vale School said: "It has been a huge honour for our children to be selected as part of the judging panel and to represent the voice of children across the country. It has been a challenge and a task that the children and I have taken very seriously. They have embraced every part of the job as judges and have enjoyed reading the books as part of a team during a weekly book club, they have been buzzing with conversation. Their reading stamina has improved greatly and their commitment and enthusiasm towards reading has been amazing, we are very proud of them all. Thank you to Blue Peter for this amazing opportunity" 

On Thursday 1st March, the winning three authors/illustrators will appear on a special World Book Day edition of Blue Peter, the UK’s longest running children’s programme in the world. Also appearing on the show are pupils from Church Vale Primary School and award-winning author and illustrator Judith Kerr, who was honoured with a BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Kerr will receive an extra special Gold Blue Peter badge for her contribution to children’s literature.

Judith Kerr on receiving the Gold Blue Peter badge said: “What a wonderful surprise to be given a Gold Blue Peter Badge. My daughter received a Blue Peter badge many years ago, so I’m one up on her with my Gold one!”

Blue Peter editor, Ewan Vinnicombe said: “It’s been another fantastic selection of titles for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2018. It was great to see the enthusiasm the children had for voting in our awards and I’m thrilled that Gold badge holder Cressida Cowell can now add a Blue Peter Book Award to her collection. I think we’ve inspired some readers to become the next set of mystery solvers by reading the Best Fact Book winner by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker. Judith Kerr’s Gold badge is very well deserved with her books as popular now with our audience as ever.” The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. BookTrust has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2017 winners were Kieran Larwood and David Wyatt who won Best Story with Podkin One Ear and David Long and Kerry Hyndman who won Best Book with Facts for Survivors.

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust commented: “We’re delighted to work with Blue Peter on another brilliant award, with the amazing talents of Cressida, Susan and Vicky, who continue to produce brilliant books encouraging so many young children to read and love stories.” 
Keep up-to-date with the Awards at www.booktrust.org.uk/bluepeter and on Twitter by following @Booktrust and #bluepeter

Specsavers GO-TRI Camberley is back - plus new junior event announced

Do you need a goal to work towards to help your New Year fitness routine? Bored of the gym?  

Specsavers GO-TRI at the Arena Leisure Centre could be the event for you!  

After the success of last year’s inaugural GO-TRI, our beginners’ triathlon is returning to Camberley on 22 April.  

GO-TRI is an introduction to triathlon and provides a platform for those looking to improve their fitness or get involved in the sport.  

With short, manageable distances, GO-TRI Camberley features a 200m swim in the Arena swimming pool, an 8km cycle through the flat and flowing roads of Camberley before finishing with a 2km run around London Road Recreation Ground. 

The course is simple, picturesque and a great challenge, with event entry just £12 including a ‘goody bag’ and medal for all finishers. Team GB age group Triathlete Sam Taylor is due to be on hand to encourage and support those taking up the challenge. 

Also, due to popular demand, this time we've added a Junior Aquathlon to the day's events, so younger athletes can take part too.  

The Aquathlon is a two-stage, swimming and running event. Open to 11-15 year-olds, it will consist of 200m swim followed by a 2km run – the perfect introduction to multi-sport events for youngsters. Entry is just £7, again including a goody bag for finishers. 
Surrey Heath Portfolio Holder for Business Cllr Craig Fennell said: “Last year more than 50 competitors swam, cycled and ran their way around Camberley – and this year we’re hoping it will be even more successful. 

“It’s a great way to get involved in exercise in a fun, relaxed way - and the Junior Aquathlon is an added element this year. This demonstrates our commitment to supporting sports development and healthy fitness in the Borough.”

What are you waiting for? Places are limited so enter today at www.surreyheath.gov.uk/tri

Chessington calls for unwanted Valentine's Day purr-fumes for new land of the tiger

  • Chessington World of Adventures Resort announces open call for guests to donate their unwanted Valentine's scents for new tiger enclosure 
  • The open call is part of the Resort's tiger enrichment programme 
  • A family of four Amur tigers will make their way from Sweden later this month to reside in Chessington's new multi-million pound enclosure 
Zoo Keepers at Chessington World of Adventures Resort have announced an open call for guests to donate their unwanted Valentine's gifts to a new tiger enclosure, Land of the Tiger, which will be opening this spring. 
Anyone whose loved one gets it completely wrong this Valentine's Day with a poor choice of perfume or aftershave, has the opportunity to donate it to a good home, as Chessington's Carnivore Keepers look to develop an enrichment programme for the incoming Amur tigers. Exposing the tigers to different scents within their enclosure, creates the diversity of an environment they would experience in the wild. 
All guests have to do is donate their smellies at Chessington's Lodge Gate, anytime between 10am and 4pm during February half term this week. The scents will then be released into the enclosure once the tigers have arrived and settled into their new home. 
Michael ‘Zim’ Zurnamer, Carnivore Supervisor at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “Sensory enrichment is key here at Chessington to keep our animals stimulated. We often take bedding and materials from other animals in our Zoo, as well as unwanted deodorants from our guests, because the different smells get the animals' brains and senses going as they realise something different has been trailed through their enclosure, just as various scents would cross their path in the wild.
"We have all received things for Valentine's Day that aren't to our taste, and perfumes are often a go-to choice when it comes to gift buying. This way, even if the recipient doesn't want them, we can put them to a good home and our new tigers will love them!"
The introduction of the tigers and the enrichment programme is pivotal to Chessington World of Adventures Resort's Learn Your Stripes initiative, which aims to educate guests about the endangered Amur tiger in an on-going series of activities and events. 
Land of the Tiger launches at Chessington World of Adventures Resort on Saturday May 5. For more information visit chessington.com/2018 

Squire’s Shepperton launch soft play parties

Squire’s Garden Centre in Shepperton has introduced children’s birthday parties at their popular “Buzzy Bumbles” indoor soft play centre. Perfect for children aged 7 and under, the parties give exclusive use of Buzzy Bumbles for 90 minutes.

With 2 floors to explore there’s plenty of opportunity for children to let off some steam, and it’s air conditioned to keep the little ones cool. Parents can watch from the comfort of the seating area and relax with a drink, then children can enjoy party food here afterwards.

Buzzy Bumbles parties at Squire’s are available from 4.30pm-6pm on Mondays to Saturdays for up to 30 children at a cost of £150. Squire’s also offer delicious hot and cold party food platters for £3 per child, which include a selection of sandwiches, sausages, chicken goujons, chips, crudities and dips, fruit and drinks. Parents are welcome to bring their own birthday cake and decorations.

To book a party call Squire’s on 01932 784121 or pick up a booking form in-store.

Or if you just want to come along to a regular Buzzy Bumbles session the cost is £3 per child and children under twelve months get in free.

Squire’s Garden Centre, Halliford Road, Shepperton, TW17 8SG.


Cirque Berserk! to play Guildford in 2018 to celebrate 250th anniversary of the invention of circus

Zippos Circus is delighted to announce that Cirque Berserk!, the UK’s biggest and boldest theatre/circus spectacular, will be coming to Guildford for a limited engagement in June. 

Combining beautiful contemporary circus artistry with hair-raising, death-defying stunts, all designed specially for staging in a proscenium arch theatre, the show will enthrall thrill-seeking audiences.

This year’s Cirque Berserk! will see the return of its most famous – and most dangerous – act, the legendary ‘Globe of Death’, in which four motorcyclists defy gravity and risk life and limb traversing the inside of a spherical steel cage at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. They will be joined by a magnificent company of over 30 jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, dancers, drummers and daredevil stuntmen from all corners of the globe, plus brilliant and hilarious physical comedy performers!

Touring direct from its première in London’s West End,  the production will play at G Live, Guildford, from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th June.  This is a nationwide 40-week UK tour, and coincides with the 250th anniversary of circus – a firmly British invention.