Priory Park playground set for refurb – tell us what you want to see

Priory Park’s popular playground is set to be refurbished next year to replace its ageing equipment. The playground, which opened in 2007, is now 11 years old. With over three million visits to the park each year from all over the borough and further afield, it is showing signs of wear and tear. 

The well-loved ‘Grey Lady’ ship will remain in spirit, but will be replaced with something more modern while in keeping with the playground’s nautical theme. The refurbishment will also include other popular pieces, like the climbing tower and zip wire, which are currently out of action.

The popular splash play equipment which was replaced last year is not included in the refurb, and the layout and planting will remain the same.

The project is part of the Council’s rolling programme of investment in its parks and greenspaces around the borough, which has already seen play areas in Chipstead and Kingswood upgraded this year.

To help inform what new equipment goes into the playground, the Council has set up a survey to get users’ views.

Cllr Alex Horwood, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Children have been having fun climbing, swinging, sliding, hiding and scrambling around Priory’ Park’s playground for 11 years now. All that fun has taken its toll on the equipment and so we need to replace it.   

“Priory Park and its playground is much loved and well-used and we want to make sure it stays that way. The refurbishment is an opportunity for us to refresh and update the play experience for children, as new, more exciting equipment is now available. It is also important that the new equipment is easy to maintain and will last.

“We’re keen to hear users’ views on what they’d like to see so that what we put in meets their needs. Please take part in our survey to tell us what you think.”

To take part in the survey visit:

The refurbishment is expected to take place during May and June 2019 following a tender process for the new equipment.

In the meantime, the Council will continue to maintain the existing equipment. Repairs to the zip wire, tower slide and part of the ship will be taking place soonso that can be enjoyed once again.

Celebrate Christmas at The Lightbox Arts and Craft Fair

Saturday 1 and Sunday  2 December 2018

This festive season The Lightbox gallery and museum has everything you need to get into the Christmas spirit.

Get a head start on your Christmas shopping with a visit to The Lightbox’s annual Arts and Craft Fair, taking place on Sat 1 December 2018, 10.30am – 5.00pm and Sun 2 December 2018, 11.00am – 4.00pm. The Arts and Craft Fair features stalls from over 30 of the best independent and local vendors, including delicate hand-made silver jewellery inspired by nature from artist Caroline Thomson as well as sweet syrupy goodness from the local raw honey producer Busy Bees Honey. With so many different stalls, you can get your Christmas shopping out of the way early, stress-free, and have more time to spend with family and friends.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little music! So alongside these festive gifts and goodies, live music from festive recorder group Reformed Recorders will jingle all the way through the building throughout the Arts and Craft Fair.

Christmas shopping undoubtedly works up an appetite, so Seasons Café are on hand, serving up a special seasonal menu for the course of the Christmas season. Wash down those first festive Advent chocolates with a warming mulled wine, stuff your bellies to the brim with hot tasty mince pies, or put your feet up and tuck into Seasons’ Christmas club sandwich, between exploring the galleries and browsing the goodies in the Shop.

As stressful as Christmas gifting can be, it doesn’t have to put a strain on your purses. With discounts in the Shop for Friends over the festive period, you can rest easy knowing you won’t have to break the bank this Christmas to delight your loved ones with unique, hand-crafted presents. There’s no better place to browse for your Christmas gifts, as every purchase from the Shop supports The Lightbox charity, as well as the independent small business suppliers that stock its shelves with their crafts and creations. It’s the perfect way to share the joy this festive season with gifts that give back.

Overlooking the Basingstoke Canal, The Lightbox is a stunning location to host a party or event. If you’re searching for a unique venue to host your Christmas party, the light, airy and contemporary design and Modern British art lining the walls makes The Lightbox an unforgettable setting.

For more information about the festive period at The Lightbox, please visit, call 01483737800, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

100 book recommendations from BookTrust to get children reading

This autumn BookTrust has published its Great Books Guide 2018  which features, for the first time ever, 100 book recommendations for children aged 0-12. It contains books to help reluctant readers, books to get children exploring nature this half term and even some potential books for Christmas inspiration. The Great Books Guide will be delivered to 17,500 schools across the country from 1st October, so keep your eyes peeled. 

BookTrust knows that children who read have better life chances. They are happier, healthier, more empathetic, more creative and do better at school.  Reading enjoyment also helps to build confidence, wellbeing, development, attainment and social skills. 

This year the Guide is beautifully illustrated by Mini Grey and features books from a host of wonderful authors and illustrators including current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Lauren Child, Nadia Shireen, Chris Riddell, Judith Kerr and Eoin Colfer. The Guide boasts a diverse and inclusive range of fiction as well as nonfiction children’s books, which explore themes as varied as animals, space, UFO mysteries and the human body. 

Diana Gerald, BookTrust CEO said: “At BookTrust our mission is to get children excited about books, stories and rhymes because if reading is fun and something children enjoy, they will want to do more of it. We’ve put together this guide full of books that we think will help get children hooked on books. There is a real mixture of books ranging from the silly to the scary to the informative. We hope this guide inspires you to help children find the right book for them.” 

Award winning picture book author and illustrator Sophy Henn said: “The BookTrust Great Books Guide is such a brilliant part of BookTrust's unrelenting mission to find the right book for EVERY child and I am completely thrilled that Ted and Bad Nana have made it in! BookTrust are unrelenting in their wonderful mission to inspire and connect all children with books.” 

Irish author of the Artemis Fowl series Eoin Colfer said: “Team Illegal are delighted to be included in the Guide. It is a great thrill for us to be listed with such fantastic peers. Thanks, BookTrust.”

Children’s author Candy Gourlay said: “BookTrust is in the business of reading for pleasure and this guide will be an indispensable tool for all who share this goal. Here is a lovingly curated selection, chosen to appeal to a diversity of children, and flinging the doors open to all the worlds that can be found between the covers of a book” 

New York Times best-selling author Taran Matharu said: “I am so incredibly pleased to be included in the BookTrust Great Books Guide – BookTrust do fantastic work improving literacy and reading across the UK, and it is an honour to be chosen by such a discerning and respected organisation.”

Andy Stanton, author of Mr Gum books said: “BookTrust are a magnificent force for good, striving to expose young readers to as wide a range of stories as possible. I'm over the moon to be included in this year's guide!”

Download your copy of BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2018 here.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort launches exclusive rent-a-mummy service this Halloween

On the most haunted day of the year, Halloween, Chessington World of Adventures Resort will offer petrified parents with a courageous child the opportunity to ‘Rent-a-Mummy’, to accompany their offspring to enjoy the spook-tacular Howl’o’ween fun at the Resort.

Having braved ancient tombs and centuries in the sarcophagus, the ‘Mummys’ will be available free of charge to accompany daring children while panicky parents relax and... ‘un-wind’.   

Sarah Oldfield, Head of Guest Services at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: ‘’To ensure everyone enjoys the ultimate Howl’o’ween here, our -Rent-a-Mummy service is the perfect solution for anxious parents too nervous to ride rollercoasters in the dark and fear-less children who no longer need to be told ‘phar-no’ to scare attractions because of their parents’ worried ways.’

Parents keen to ‘Rent-A-Mummy’ at Chessington World of Adventures Resort on Halloween, simply need to sign up at . Guests will be selected at random for the service. Terms and hieroglyphics apply.

Fake news not fooling kids who read, says BookTrust and leading developmental psychologist

BookTrust, as part of their Time to Read campaign argues the importance of visual literacy for children’s development. The UK’s largest children’s reading charity, alongside developmental psychologist Emma Kenny argues that understanding imagery and identifying visual clues in illustrated books helps young children to make sense of wider topics as they get older. 

In a world where advertising becomes ever more pervasive and fake news continues to infiltrate news sources at an alarming rate, children can often struggle to tell the difference between what’s real and fake. Having the ability to understand context and symbolism and decode information is crucial for young people if we want them to become more active learners and help arm them against the barrage of fake news.

BookTrust believes that reading and sharing stories is vital for helping children think for themselves and encourage wider discussions. Illustrated books help children to develop free association, to understand inference and to create their own narratives rather than accepting things at face value.

This September, as part of its annual Time to Read Campaign, BookTrust, Emma Kenny and leading children’s illustrators including Chris Riddell, Sarah McIntyre of the Pictures Mean Business campaign and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, are asking families to recognise the importance of illustrated books and to take time to explore reading and sharing stories together to help children to understand the world around them, enable them to figure out fact from fiction and allow them to become more independent thinkers.  

Developmental psychologist Emma Kenny says: “I am thrilled to be working with BookTrust on their Time to Read campaign. Children’s brains start to develop at an early age, so it’s important we introduce them to activities that will stimulate them and help them to grow. Picture books are a subtle way to introduce ideas to children that will encourage them to start thinking independently and help them learn to understand subtext and meaning. Now more than ever, we need to arm children with the skills they need to figure out what’s going on around them and I’d urge parents across the country to pick up a picture book and get decrypting with your children.”

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity is giving away over 700,000 copies of Little Monkey by author and illustrator Marta Altés to every reception aged child in England. Little Monkey is a great book to get kids excited about reading. It’s filled with beautiful illustrations and lots of colourful pictures that give young readers hints to help encourage them to think outside the box to understand the unwritten dangers in the story.

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust says: “Illustrated books are a wonderful resource for children to help them develop key skills, build their confidence and grow their imagination. Visual clues in the story can help them to decipher meaning and encourage them to engage with the narrative on their own terms, beyond just the words. Little Monkey is a heartwarming tale about a brave and curious monkey who is fed up of being told she’s too small to go on adventures. Something that many young ones will no doubt relate to. It’s the perfect picture book for families to have fun with this autumn.”

For more information on BookTrust and the Time to Read Campaign visit