Two iconic Surrey landmarks set to turn green to help the NSPCC raise awareness of neglect

The Guildhall and Guildford House in Surrey will be illuminated green from 5pm onwards on Monday 3 December in support of the NSPCC's Christmas appeal.

The iconic landmarks will be lit in the charity’s distinctive colour to help raise awareness of the charity’s ‘Light For Every Childhood’ campaign, which aims to shine a light on children experiencing neglect at Christmas and all year round.

Last year nearly a third of all calls to the NSPCC helpline related to neglect, a figure that’s even higher at Christmas

Neglect happens when parents and carers can’t or won’t meet a child’s needs. Sometimes this is because they don't have the skills or support needed, and sometimes it is due to other problems such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or poverty.

It costs the NSPCC’s helpline £5 to answer a call.

By making a donation the people of Surrey can help the charity answer more calls and shine a light on a child who is being neglected and get them the help they so desperately need.

Adults worried about a child’s welfare can call the NSPCC’s Helpline 24/7 on 0808 800 5000.

Children and young people can call Childline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk

Information about neglect can be found on the website www.nspcc.org.uk

Simply had a wonderful Christmas Lights Time

The mood was right and the spirits were most definitely up at Guildford's annual Christmas Lights Switch-On event in the historic High Street last week. 

The town centre was filled with Christmas entertainment for all the family from the afternoon until late at the event organised by Guildford Borough Council, together with partners Experience Guildford, GEE YOU, Guildford Fringe Theatre Company, Eagle Radio, White Lion Walk and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

An exciting balcony show hosted by Eagle Breakfast DJ Peter Gordon with guests including Mayor of Guildford Cllr Mike Parsons, local sports stars and the cast of the Yvonne Arnaud pantomime including actress and singer Michelle Gayle, preceded the lights switch-on and the fantastic firework finale was kindly provided by Steve Cotney of White Lion Walk. 

Guildford MP Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills also attended the event and describes it as a "wonderful evening". 

Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Mike Parsons says: “This wonderful community event marks the start of the town’s countdown to Christmas. I was delighted to see so many residents and visitors coming together to celebrate the start of the festive season. A huge thank you to all of our partners and visitors that make this occasion so special every year.” 

He explains: “Each year we try to improve on the last and this year we were able to offer even more entertainment than previous years and new dedicated quiet spaces for those who prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of the High Street. We worked with Social Change Company GEEYOU to offer this service with grateful thanks to Skipton Building Society and Cosy Club in Tunsgate Quarter." 

Nick White, Director of GEEYOU explains: "Making the Guildford Lights event as accessible as possible was one of our top priorities this year. We ensured we provided a safe and comfortable environment and were able to welcome everyone who made an equiries. The work of our staff and volunteers ensured our Quiet Spaces were a tremendous success." 

A resident whose family used the new quiet spaces said: "It really made my son's night (and his brother's and mine too). We were able to pop in and out over the course of the evening and the staff at Skipton were wonderful. Thanks to your service, our family thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.” 

Another added: "Please thank the Cosy Club staff and volunteers who kept my son entertained and safe. Lovely atmosphere and a great time at an event which we would have usually avoided completely.” 

Amanda Masters, Chief Executive at Experience Guildford says: “As ever, the lights switch-on event is a marvellous way to mark the start of the festive retail calendar and the beginning of our late night shopping. We were proud to introduce new lights at the top of the high street this year to help extend footfall throughout the town. We have also enhanced our retail and leisure mix to draw visitors from further afield and increase dwell time. Our new #ElfieSelfie competition was a big hit with lots of visitors enjoying being snapped with our mischievous elves. We have contacted the winner of the family panto ticket on social media.” 

She added: “Huge thanks go to all the partners involved in this year’s celebrations and here’s to a very prosperous festive season for all.” 

Nick Wyschna from Guildford Fringe Theatre Company, coordinated the extensive entertainment programme, he says: "It’s been amazing seeing the event evolve since I attended as a child with my family to being involved as an organiser for the past four years. Community is at the heart of what we do and as a Guildfordian, born and bred, I love helping the event grow each year as does the rest of the Guildford Fringe Team. This year was a triumph, a truly magical day.” 

Frimley playground transformed in £50,000 makeover 

Evergreen Road play area in Frimley is the latest playground to be refurbished as part of SHBC’s £650,0000 play area improvement programme

Surrey Heath Safeguarding and Support Portfolio Holder and Parkside ward councillor Cllr Josephine Hawkins officially opened the playground with SHBC Executive Head of Business Daniel Harrison and Senior Business Officer Nicky Sherlow – joined by some happy local children making the most of the new facilities!  

Following the £50,000 makeover, children can now enjoy the new junior multi-play unit, a variety of swings, 4-way see saw, rope swing, surf rider, and trampoline. 

There’s new safety surfacing throughout, along with more seats and picnic benches. 

Cllr Hawkins said: “The playground has been transformed, and I hope local families enjoy using these excellent new facilities.

“This refurbishment has been achieved through regular consultation with local residents, to ensure it is a fun, friendly and safe place for children to meet and play.

“Thank you to all those involved in making it happen.” 

Last year the Council agreed a Borough-wide playground improvement scheme that will see more areas of Surrey Heath benefit from improved play facilities. 

The play area improvement scheme is worth over £650,000, with the improvements due to be implemented over three years.

Playgrounds earmarked for refurbishment/replacement as part of this scheme include:

  • Chobham Road Recreation Ground, Frimley

  • Frimley Lodge Park

  • Lightwater Country Park

  • Loman Road, Mytchett & Deepcut

  • London Road Recreation Ground, St Michaels

  • Old Dean Recreation Ground

  • Watchetts Recreation Ground

  • WhitmoorRoad, Bagshot

BookTrust launches Under My Sky poetry competition

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity and Nicola Davies, their current Writer in Residence, have launched a poetry competition encouraging primary school age children to write a poem about nature or their local environment.

One lucky winner will get a school visit from Nicola Davies and a wonderful stack of Nicola’s books for their school library. Then two runners up will each get a bundle of Nicola’s books. The winning poem, and 20 runners-up will also get their poem showcased on the BookTrust website. 

Nicola Davies said of the competition: “When you want to write about something you have to really look at it; When you want to write a poem about something you have to think about it, and about what it means to you. So, this poetry competition is to make young poets LOOK at the natural world around them, and think deeply about it, what it means to them and to us all. Their poems will help us all to learn to really see nature and really value it; this is the most important and urgent lesson humanity needs right now.” 

The competition is for pupils of a primary school age and children can take part as individuals or as a class. Their poems can be written in any style and any shape, just as long as it is about the environment. Children have until Friday 18th January 2019 to send in their poems. 

BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald said: “We are thrilled to be working with Nicola on this excellent competition, inspiring children to get outside and get writing. We hope the competition highlights to children the wonders of the natural world around them, encouraging them to explore their creativity through poetry.” 

Nicola Davies has some advice for the young poetry writers: “Look out of your window, even if all you can see is buildings, nature is all round you: the air and the clouds constantly changing are created by the life of our planet. Look at your face in the mirror, your hand holding the pen, evolution gave you a face, a hand that can hold a pen, a brain that can think. And evolution is the history of nature, a story that connects us all to each other and to every living thing alive now and that has been alive in the long journey of our planet.”

Full details of the competition can be found here.

Be enchanted in Camberley this Christmas

Camberley town centre is set to be a magical place this winter with an array of special events taking place every weekend through November and December until Christmas.

A Nutcracker Ballet themed weekend is taking place in Cambridge Square (outside House of Fraser), The Square shopping centre on 3 and 4 November.  See dance performances with dancers from Camberley’s Bluebell Ballet School.  Your child will have the opportunity to take part in dance workshops to learn ballet steps and take part in the final show at 4pm.  There will also be storytelling and a special craft session making mice ears. 

The popular Christmas lights switch event on will take place on Saturday 17 November.  Join in from 10am for Camberley’s Christmas market, festive entertainment and special guests, followed by the switching on of the lights, live music and fireworks at 4.30pm, even Peppa Pig is travelling to Camberley to see this show!  You can see Peppa at intervals throughout the day in The Square shopping centre. 

Eight unique reindeer are coming to Camberley town centre in December.  The reindeer have all been decorated by local schools and nurseries and will be positioned around town, can you spot them?  Pick up a form from The Square or The Atrium to record your reindeer sightings. Prizes to be won if you find them all. 

A very special Camberley Christmas Parade will take place at 4pm on Saturday 1 December.  The parade will include a mixture of community groups, schools, businesses and a marching band as we welcome Father Christmas to Camberley in a horse drawn carriage.  The parade will conclude on Park Street where there will be entertainment and festive refreshments for sale. There is still time for organisations to get involved in the day – please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

Get even further into the Christmas spirit with live music in The Square. During late night shopping on Thursday 13 December there will be an evening of Christmas Carols, led by the Surrey Heath Singers, before a weekend of free Christmas concerts across Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December featuring a mixture of professional artists and local community groups.

The Square and The Atrium have lots of festive fun planned too.  In The Square you’ll find Father Christmas in his magical grotto, children can visit for just £4 which includes a gift.  You can also join Santa for breakfast (all bookable in advance, find out more https://www.thesqcamberley.co.uk/).  To coincide with Camberley Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty panto there will be Sleeping Beauty themed activities on 1 and 2 December, including dressing up and arts and crafts.  You will also have the opportunity to take special Christmas photos in a snow globe on Saturday 9 December.

The Atrium are running an Elf School on 8 and 9 December.  Enrol and get trained up to be one of Santa’s little helpers.  

Is that all? Oh no it’s not! Camberley theatre has its panto!  This year ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – a brand new adaptation of the classic fairy-tale.  This spell-binding production features singalong songs, high energy choreography, beautiful scenery and a host of side-splitting jokes!  Find out more and book your tickets https://www.camberleytheatre.co.uk/events/sleeping-beauty 

Councillor Richard BrooksDeputy Leader, Surrey Heath Borough Council said;  

“As part of our investment in Camberley town centre we are supporting our local retailers and businesses by working with our town centre partners; including The Square, Camberley Theatre, The Atrium and Collectively Camberley to organise some fantastic events.  These events also provide wonderful free entertainment for our local families and communities.  We hope everyone has fun in Camberley this winter.” 

Karen Whelan, CEO, Surrey Heath Borough Council said; 

“Camberley is all set to be an amazing place as we lead up to Christmas.  This events programme has been carefully designed to provide something for everyone, but in particular families and children as Christmas is such a magical time for this age group.”