Stoke Park Paddling Pool resurfacing

The paddling pool surface has reached the end of its life and parts of the surface are clogging the filters. We have chosen a new surface that will not disintegrate over time and block the filters. This will help the filters work efficiently and save water and the amount of chemicals used. The new fiberglass surface will have a slightly rough texture to prevent slipping and we still have our seascape design. 

Lead Councillor for Environment, Cllr James Steel, said:

“The Stoke Park paddling pool originally opened in 1935, to commemorate King George V’s Silver Jubilee, before being refurbished in 2016. 

“We know how much families enjoy visiting our paddling pool with their children. It is also a place full of fond memories for many residents across our borough. The pool is busy and an important free activity for our park visitors. We hope to have the paddling pool open for our usual big splash in early May.

“There is still lots to enjoy in Stoke Park. We have a children’s playground and multiple sports pitches and the kiosk remains open for tasty snacks. Visit our website to find more information on opening times and other facilities in Stoke Park.”

We have closed areas around the pool and the boating lake for safety while the work is taking place and to make sure that the new surface is protected as it is applied. 

There will be some noise while the surface is being prepared and visitors may notice a smell when the fiberglass is being applied and, although some people may find this unpleasant, it is not harmful. 

Stoke Park is our largest and most popular Green Flag award winner park with 52 hectares of unspoiled rolling grassland and open views across Guildford. The Green Flag award recognises well managed parks and green spaces. To win, parks must meet high standards and have excellent facilities. For further information, and to find other Green Flag parks and open spaces, visit the Green Flag Award website.

Booktrust story time crowns best new book for sharing with young children

The BookTrust Storytime Prize, which celebrates the very best books for sharing with babies and young children, has been awarded to The Whales on the Bus written by Katrina Charman and illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Bloomsbury Children’s).

The other titles shortlisted for the prize were:

 Really, Really Need a Wee! by Karl Newson & Duncan Beedie (Little Tiger Press)

 Octopus Shocktopus! by Peter Bently & Steven Lenton (Nosy Crow)

  No! Said Rabbit by Marjoke Henrichs (Scallywag Press)

  Lenny and Wilbur by Ken Wilson-Max (Alanna Max)

 Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)

The prestigious, annual prize promotes the life-changing benefits of sharing stories with young children and, new for this year, the shortlist formed part of an ambitious national library experience piloted by the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, BookTrust. Through BookTrust Storytime, the charity has been working in close partnership with libraries and local authorities to pilot new ways to support families with young children – especially those who are disadvantaged – engage with their local public library, helping kick-start their reading journey, so that sharing stories become a regular and long-lasting part of family life. 

The librarians and families who took part in the initiative voted for The Whales on the Bus as the 2021 prize winner based on how families and young children responded to and enjoyed the shortlisted books during BookTrust Storytime sessions. Families and librarians praised the interactive reimagining of this familiar nursery rhyme as a ‘winning formula’, enjoying the playful way the story encouraged all the family to join in with a singalong, how the inventive tongue twisters and rhymes introduced new words, the appealing character cast of animals and vehicles, and the fantastically bright and bold illustrations. 

Cressida Cowell MBE, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019-2022, revealed the winning book at a virtual event on Tuesday 25 January, celebrating the pilot.

On receiving the £5,000 prize, author Katrina Charman commented: I am absolutely over the moon that The Whales on the Bus has been voted as the winner of the BookTrust Storytime Prize 2021. BookTrust is such an important organisation, and having mine and Nick’s book play a small part in encouraging more families into libraries and making sure that children have access to wonderful books is very humbling. Growing up, I owned few books as they were seen as a luxury item, but each week my mum would take my sister and I to our local library where I would gather as many books as I was allowed to borrow, and devour them as soon as I got home. Our local library is where I developed my own love of books and reading, and I am so grateful to librarians who continue to enable those who may not otherwise get a chance to have access to books, the opportunity to do so. Libraries, now more than ever, need our support, and they are and always will be, to me, the heart of any community. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” 

Illustrator Nick Sharratt said: “We all know how important books and reading are in a child’s development. Reading charity BookTrust does the most incredible work bringing children and books together, and BookTrust Storytime events are an inspired way to encourage families into those vital places - libraries, perhaps for their very first visit. So I couldn’t be more delighted that The Whales on the Bus has won the Storytime Prize. To know that families and librarians voted to make it the winner is truly the icing on the cake.” 

BookTrust Storytime forms part of the charity’s ambition to reach the families who need more support to develop a reading habit, and was created in response to BookTrust research which shows only 49% of families in poverty with children 0-5 are registered with a public library. The pilot has been designed and delivered with the support or libraries, local authorities and the wider library sector including ASCEL, CILIP and Libraries Connected and families to ensure it reflected their needs and requirements, to enable more children to enjoy the life-changing and transformative benefits of reading.

All libraries in England were offered copies of the six, shortlisted books to share with their local families. Over 300 libraries held storytime activities for local families. These included sessions where librarians would read one of the shortlisted books and shared accompanying resources and activities for the families attending to take part in together. With a different book and activity to enjoy each week, the pilot was designed to encourage families to get into the habit of making repeat visits to their local library, building their confidence and enjoyment of sharing books with their children.

Through the pilot, BookTrust aims to learn more about how to best work with libraries to engage families on their reading journey. An evaluation of the experience and impact on families, libraries and local authorities will inform future developments and next steps.

Father Christmas comes up trumps this Christmas!

Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps! is showing at GLive from Sunday 19 – Friday 24 December  at G Live. 

Father Christmas is back, and this time he's had three helpings of sprouts!

As he tries to deliver the presents, his tummy rumbles, gurgles and groans, but Father Christmas knows he must keep it in – he doesn't want to wake anyone up! TaleGate Theatre Productions hit the perfect combination of witty humour, fantastic music and the extra sparkle for which they have become known in this fabulously funny and brilliantly bouncy musical adaptation of Nicholas Allan’s sequel to ‘Father Christmas Needs a Wee.’ Father Christmas is parking his sleigh at G Live from Sunday 19 December - Friday 24 December with four shows each day. There’s also the chance to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift from his elf after the show! 

This musical has been put together by the team than brought you the festive musical ‘Father Christmas Needs a Wee!’which has seen success in a sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and sell out UK tours for the past five years. With ‘Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps’ TaleGate Theatre Productions have yet again hit the perfect combination of witty humour, fantastic music and the extra sparkle for which they have become known in this fabulously funny and brilliantly bouncy musical adaptation of Nicholas Allan’s much loved series of books. 

Artistic Director, James Worthington comments “We are very excited to tour our new festive musical across the UK. It promises to beat our own high standard and really pack a tuneful punch. We are really lucky to be working with Nicholas Allan again on another of his books as they are perfect for cheeky children everywhere. When even the title makes you laugh you know you are in for a good time!”

Squirrels! Isn’t it time for… Hey Duggee series 4?

BBC Studios and CBeebies have commissioned a fourth series of multi-award-winning hit animation Hey Duggee from Studio AKA.

Children and adults alike will be delighted to hear that Duggee and The Squirrels will return for 40 brand new episodes of the much-loved show.

Hey Duggee is a fun, inclusive and educational series devised by Grant Orchard, senior director of Studio AKA, and narrated by comedian Alexander Armstrong.

Each episode features members of the Squirrel Club exploring, learning and overcoming challenges to earn a new Badge from Duggee – making new friends along the way.

Since launching in 2014, Hey Duggee has become a six-time BAFTA and international Emmy award-winning hit on CBeebies and was the most-watched kids’ show on BBC iPlayer in 2020 with over 192 million requests. All episodes of Hey Duggee are available exclusively on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Additionally, Hey Duggee has over 1.2 million fans across its social channels and its official YouTube channel has over a billion lifetime views. Recently Hey Duggee teamed up with The Body Coach Joe Wicks for The Workout Badges series on YouTube, following on from bespoke lockdown-themed content on its social channels such as The Handwashing Badge, while The Parenting Badge, which debuted in December 2020, has had over 1.2M views.

Henrietta Hurford-Jones, Director of Children’s and Executive Producer of Hey Duggee for BBC Studios, said: “Hey Duggee is so popular with both parents and children and I’m sure they’ll be as delighted as we are that a new series is on the way. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far and how much people love Duggee and The Squirrels – so we’re delighted to be working with the hugely talented Studio AKA once more and can’t wait for you to see it!”

Sue Goffe, Head of Production at Studio AKA, said: “We’re thrilled to be continuing our glorious Duggee Adventure with BBC Studios and CBeebies. A huge thank you to our extraordinary creative team for all their hard work, and to all our viewers for your continued love and support for the show. Prepare yourselves for more gems to come!”

Kate Morton, Head of BBC Children’s Commissioning & Acquisitions 0-6 said: “Hey Duggee is a staple in households right across the UK so we’re thrilled to continue our adventure with him and The Squirrels on CBeebies. Just like his young fans, all of us at BBC Children’s can’t wait to see what he gets up to next!”

Hey Duggee has an impressive global footprint in over 150 countries with its global popularity spawning numerous licensing agreements including Golden Bear as UK master toy partner and Penguin Books publishing under their Ladybird imprint. Recently BBC Studios secured agreements in Spain with Ypislon as licensing agent and Bizak as master toy partner, marking further growth in Western Europe.

Last year, France TV was signed as the French licensing agent for Hey Duggee and product now available in the region includes: toys from master toy Lansay; plush toys, furniture and melamine courtesy of licensee Jemini; puzzles and early learning games from Ravensburger; magazines by Milan; and books by Hachette.

Explore the Royal Menagerie dressed for Christmas at the Tower of London

This Christmas, from 1 December to 3 January, a spectacular world of twinkling animals will be brought to life at the Tower of London as part of a brand new magical festive experience suitable for all the family.  Throughout December, the famous fortress will be dressed for the season, with stunning seasonal decorations bedecking Christmas trees across the site, accompanied by a series of festive installations based on the story of the Tower’s famous Royal Menagerie.  

The Tower housed a royal menagerie for over 600 years and rather unexpectedly has been home to a range of animals – including a polar bear!  From 1 December families can enjoy magical displays of glittering decorations and illuminated animal-themed areas across the site, telling the stories of some of the exotic animals that once called this historic place home. Begun as a result of medieval monarchs exchanging rare and exotic animals as gifts, Edward I established a permanent new home for the Menagerie - known as the Lion Tower - during his reign. By 1622 the collection had been extended to include everything from leopards, pumas, lions and eagles!  

The Menagerie closed for good in 1835, but this Christmas it will be brought to life once more, with everything from naughty ravens to majestic elephants featuring in the new festive display. Visitors can marvel at a shimmering winter wonderland scene where a polar bear roams, before stumbling upon a set of golden wolves that guard the piles of coins and money bags along the famous Mint Street, once home of the Royal Mint. The centrepiece of the display will be a large and imposing Christmas tree on Tower Green, bedecked with ornate decorations linked to stories from the Tower including crowns, carriages and the famous Royal Jewels. Nestled among the presents at the base of the tree, little ones can have a go at spotting golden animals from each of the illuminations across the site. Finally, the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula will also be lavishly decorated with beautiful fleur de lis, crown, angel and cherub motifs to reflect the Chapel Royal’s grand architecture, where special Christmas services have been held for hundreds of years.  

The perfect winter treat, Christmas at the Tower of London will run daily (excluding Mondays) from 1 December – 3 January and is included in general admission. The event has also been generously supported by the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign launched by the Mayor of London to support the economic recovery of London following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Once families have enjoyed the magical lights, there is nearly 1,000 years of history still waiting to be explored throughout the day. The Yeoman Warders will be delivering their famous tours, regaling people with stories of intrigue, imprisonment, execution, torture and much more. Visitors can also spot one of the Tower’s resident ravens, who have been shrouded in myth and legend since Charles II decreed that at least six must remain or the kingdom will fall. Finally, no visit isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic Crown Jewels, where the magnificent world-famous collection of over 25,000 gemstones are just waiting to be admired.