Help shape plans for Westborough Play Spaces 

Residents have a chance to help with proposals to refurbish play areas at Chapelhouse, Kings College, Woodside Road and Derby Road. This is the first stage of an exciting project to regenerate these areas for local families to enjoy. The online survey is open now and runs until 30 May. The Parks and Leisure Team including our Playrangers will also be visiting schools and community groups to make sure everyone can have their say. 

Peter O’Connell, Director of Environment says: ‘We're very keen to hear from residents to understand their needs and ideas so we can incorporate these into our plans. Providing play areas for children is a vital part of our Play Strategy, which is a key element of the Council's Corporate Plan. Our vision is that all of our play spaces are attractive, welcoming, inspiring and accessible.’ 

He explains: ‘We recently completed a similar project at Westnye Gardens, transforming an existing walled garden into a vibrant rustic play garden. Local residents helped develop the scheme and we commissioned Surrey-based landscape architects and RHS Gold winners, Davies White Ltd to create it. We're delighted that already we've had record footfall numbers with over 6000 adults and children visiting Westnye over the second week of the Easter holidays. This space provides both interesting activities and equipment for younger children and seating and tables for picnics.’

Please visit to have your say on Westborough Play Areas.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort and the book fairies sprinkle magic around London with copies of Room on the Broom and theme park tickets

Today, Chessington World of Adventures Resort partners with The Book Fairies, hiding 100 copies of a Julia Donaldson favourite around London, with five very special books signed by the author herself, containing golden tickets to visit the Surrey Theme Park and Zoo.

The activity celebrates Chessington’s new attraction, Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey, which launched earlier this year and brings to life the magical story of the Witch and her Cat. This is the second Julia Donaldson attraction to launch at the Resort, following The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure in 2017.  

Local Book Fairies will be dropping copies of the book, which inspired the new attraction, around London for lucky members of the public to find. There are a handful of these copies containing golden tickets granting the discoverer a full day’s entry to the Theme Park and Zoo and to visit the Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey where they can step into the enchanted library and walkthrough the pages of the story.

Tim Harrison – Jones, Divisional Director at Chessington World of Adventures Resort says “we hope that many parents commuting around London today who find these books will be inspired to share the story with their children tonight. And we look forward to welcoming the five finders of the signed copies to the Resort this year.”


Marking National ‘Share a Story Month’, which falls this month, finders of the book are encouraged to celebrate the power of storytelling by reading the books, then leaving them in another location for the next person to enjoy.

Buckland Park Lake to host family events in 2019

Buckland Park Lake prepares to host a series of ticketed seasonal fun family events in 2019, starting at the end of May. These “taster” events will increase awareness of this unique outdoor space and wildlife haven, prior to the full opening of the site to the public in the first half of 2020.

Set within an Area of Great Landscape Value, between Reigate and Dorking, Buckland Park Lake is a secret place, known to very few, having been closed for years since the sand quarry stopped operations and never having been open to the public. As a result, nature has flourished undisturbed and the site now blends tranquility with dramatic, breath-taking views over one of Surrey’s largest water bodies.

Since 2017, family owned Buckland Estate has been navigating planning permission to turn the beautiful landscape formed by sand quarrying from the 1920’s to an attractive and useful outdoor activity resource for the local community and visitors from further afield. The future vision for the site combines protecting its’ natural heritage with recreation, health and well-being.

Permission was successfully secured in May 2018 and since then the Buckland Park Lake team have been busy putting into place the steps to achieve the approved plans. These will include: a glass-fronted café with terrace, which will afford elevated views over the lake; a water sports activity centre, with toilet and shower facilities and indoor meeting space; a children’s trim trail and large sandpit.

To date, the only way to access the site has been via membership of the established fly fishing club or the resident water sports provider, The Surrey Hills Adventure Company (SHAC), which offers activities by appointment. Although the site is not due to be complete until Summer 2020, Buckland Park Lake will open up a major part of the site - comprising the Lagoon, Meadow and Events Lawn - this year for several private, ticketed events, initially offering a family focused event during the May half term, running from May 25th to 2nd June inclusive. Some areas of the site will not be accessible at this stage and so ticket prices will be discounted to reflect this. Children under 14 years of age will also need to be accompanied. All visitors will receive a map of the site areas and paths over which they may roam and will be advised of health and safety requirements to be adhered to.

Opening hours will be 11am until 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am until 6pm on Saturday and Sundays. Tickets will be priced at £9 per adult and £6 per child, (under 16s) with a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children available at £24. Numbers will be restricted so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Tickets can be booked via this link

Activities on offer (mostly within the advertised ticket price) will include:

  • Ancient woodland trail – find the 10 woodland animals in return for a prize for each child
  • Mini golf (refundable deposit required for clubs and balls)
  • Build a mini-raft station - find your materials on our woodland trail and use twine provided to build your raft
  • Welly boot planting station – bring your old welly boots (or mini flower pots) and plant with soil and seeds provided.
  • Giant sandpit and toys
  • Space hoppers, hula hoops and garden games
  • Inflatables
  • Face painting
  • Story-telling in the Marquee for younger children
  • Refreshments, including hot food, tea, coffee and sweet treats

Paid for activities that need to be booked in advance via the SHAC include:

  • Stand up paddle boarding
  • Bush craft - learn some forest skills, how to set up a shelter, whittle and make a camp fire (one hour session, from age 6 and up)

For more details visit

Mum of baby who needed special care backs hospital charity campaign

A mother who had to be apart from her baby while he received specialist treatment from doctors has helped launch a bid to raise half a million pounds to help transform care for premature and sick babies in Surrey.

Sarah Benton, 37, from Farnham is sharing her story in support of the Closer to Carecampaign, which will deliver a new Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Her youngest son Edward spent 10 days in the hospital’s SCBU, following his birth by emergency caesarean section in March, after a scan revealed he didn’t have enough fluid around him. He was born with a knot in the umbilical cord and was taken straight from theatre to special care to be stabilised. Despite receiving what she described as “amazing care”, Sarah said the hardest part was not being able to stay with her newborn baby on the unit overnight. 

Sarah said:Being away from Edward is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do…I was on a postnatal bay with lots of other mums who all had their babies with them and it was very upsetting and very isolating – to hear another baby crying at night and to not be able to hold or be near my own little baby…that was heartbreaking.” 

In partnership with Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the official hospital charity has today (Wednesday 15 May) launched a £500,000 appeal to redevelop SCBU so that parents will be able to stay overnight on the unit. The launch coincides with International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day; a day which celebrates and promotes the benefits of close contact (also known as skin-to-skin contact) between baby and parent, particularly for those born premature. 

Sarah has seen first hand the benefits of skin-to-skin contact. She said when she was close to Edward, the need for any pain medication following her caesarean reduced drastically. Sarah said: “I didn’t hurt when I was with him. When Edward was in the incubator, he was hooked up to a monitor for his oxygen levels, heart rate and respiratory rate, and they all improved when he was on my chest.”

The innovative project will allow parents with babies who are born sick or premature to help care for and be close to their baby at any time – making it the first unit of its type across Surrey, Sussex and Kent, to provide comfortable overnight accommodation for parents next to their babies’ cots. 

Dr Mark Evans, Chief of Service for Women and Childrenat the hospital, said the Trust was proud of the ‘outstanding’ rating its maternity services received from the Care Quality Commission but is keen to do more to further improve care for babies and mums.

He said: There are many benefits for both baby and parent when families are more involved in their babies’ care – including improved long-term health outcomes, enhanced bonding, reduced hospital stays and reduced stress – which is why we promote and encourage family-centred care at Royal Surrey.

Being able to stay overnight will not only benefit mum and baby – it will mean the baby’s dad also has the option to stay with his child. This can be particularly helpful if one parent or carer needs to return home or if the mother is still receiving care on the postnatal ward.”

Plans for the new unit will also include a family room, which will offer much-needed privacy for families receiving sensitive news, and a separate space for siblings to play with toys and visitors to gather and spend time together.

Analiese Doctrove, Head of Fundraising at Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity, said:We’ve met so many parents like Sarah, who tell us the care they receive is excellent and the staff are incredible, but that it is so difficult to leave their baby overnight. We know that this can be distressing for families and that this project will significantly benefit both premature and sick babies and their families – helping them to thrive, create positive memories and feel safe. 

“We need support from the local community to do this; so whether you’d like to donate, fundraise, share your story, or help in other ways, please get in touch.”

To make a donation or to find out more about the campaign, visit or call the charity on 01483 464146.

Classic children's stories in a beautiful setting

THIS summer, Cat’s Grin Theatre Company bring entertaining and enlightening productions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandand The Wind in the Willows to the beautiful landscape gardens of Painshill, Cobham. 

Celebrated for their charm, Cat’s Grin Theatre Company, specialise in witty and stylish adaptations of classic children’s literature. Ideal for ages four to four hundred, they with have all the family enthralled. 

How mad is the hatter? What does the dodo do? Questions are answered and answers are questioned in a deceptively simple, yet highly original re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s classic on Saturday, August 3 and Saturday, August 10. Audiences are introduced to (or re-acquainted with) many of the extraordinary characters that our eponymous heroine encounters during her wanderings in Wonderland. Hold tight for rolling heads, rocketing sneezes, skimming plates and darting jam tarts. 

Kenneth Grahame’s unforgettable assembly of animals are lovingly re-created with the Cat’s Grin Trademarks of wit and style on Sunday, August 4 and Sunday, August 11. From an idyllic riverside setting to the final battle for Toad Hall, this enchanting interactive production about selfless friendship is told with high energy, humour and audience participation.

What better setting to enjoy these stories than the award-winning Painshill landscape. Created as a ‘living work of art’ in the 18thcentury, Painshill offers everything for a perfect family day out, including picnic spots and a natural play area. Winding paths take you on a journey to discover mystical follies and stunning views. Before watching Wind in the Willowstake a stroll along by the River Mole and see if you can spot Moley! Or head into the sparkling Crystal Grotto before diving down the rabbit hole with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The shows will be performed in the Painshill tree lined amphitheatre, under cover of a marquee.  

Tickets are £12.50 for adults and £10 for children and they are on sale now! Book on the Painshill website at