Surrey Wildlife Trust hedgerows

Round & About

The Clandons

Photo: Hedgehog – Jon Hawkins

Traditional hedge laying skills a lifeline for bees, bugs and butterflies

An ambitious new project by Surrey Wildlife Trust to inspire young people to connect with nature in the North Downs and Surrey Hills has received a £390,000 boost from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

By reconnecting people with the local landscape, the Trust hopes to prevent traditional hedge laying skills and wildlife from going extinct in the county by creating vital habitat for hedgehogs, bees, bugs and butterflies.

The project aims to inspire young budding ecologists, practical conservationists and the wider local community by working with schools, colleges and youth groups.

Events such as a hedgerow festival, hedgerow tales storytelling workshops and hedge laying competitions will help the Trust reach its goal of engaging and inspiring thousands of younger people in the project over four years.

Working in partnership with other landowners and organisations across the North Downs, the Preserving Surrey’s Hedgerows Heritage project provides a lifeline from our agricultural history for wildlife and future generations. It will also leave a legacy of creating, restoring and protecting more than 70 kilometres of hedgerows in the North Downs and Surrey Hills to create a more resilient and wildlife rich natural environment for the future.

For hundreds of years, generations of hedge layers have maintained the iconic patchwork quilt landscape of hedgerows to mark boundaries, contain livestock and shelter crops from extreme weather, they have provided a source of food, shelter and safe passage for plants and animals across the landscape.

Today a third of all wildlife in the county is already extinct or heading towards extinction with more than 130 key species that depend on hedgerows at risk. These species include dormice, hedgehogs, bats, butterflies such as the brown hair streak and rare pearl bordered fritillary, bees, bugs and birds such as the white throat and yellow hammer.

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “Hedge laying skills need to become mainstream if we are to help nature’s recovery and future-proof our environment. To protect our valuable wildlife and create jobs for our future, younger people need to upskill in nature conservation skills.

“Through our project we hope to give people the opportunity to develop skills and careers in the environment and also improve the health and well-being of young people by reconnecting them with nature.”

The project aims to engage and inspire 2,400 local people, with a focus of more than half being young people from school and youth groups, as well as community volunteers, landowners, farm managers, corporate volunteer teams, public and private sector contractors in the restoration of hedgerows.

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Urgent action needs to be taken to secure the future of Surrey’s hedgerows and the wealth of wildlife they support and cultural heritage they represent. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players new generations will be equipped with the traditional skills and passion needed to help the county’s hedgerows thrive once more.”

For further information

Star of Wonder

Round & About

The Clandons

Lucy Barker tells us about ‘Star of Wonder’ at Guildford Cathedral

Star of Wonder is a beautiful light and sound show that makes full use of the massive vaulted ceiling and majestic interior of Guildford Cathedral.

Created by artist Peter Walker and composer David Harper of Luxmuralis (Light Murals), the show celebrates the twelve days of Christmas. It takes visitors on the journey of the Magi, through starry skies, religious images and colourful laser beams, in a stunning kaleidoscope of colours.

We went as a family and our two small boys (age five and two) were enchanted by the display all around them. For a first visit to the cathedral it was certainly impressive, and memorable.

It’s on for the next three nights – 16, 17 and 18 January, at a cost of £5 (accompanied under 16s £2.50).

Review of Aladdin

Round & About

The Clandons

Review of Aladdin at the New Victoria Theatre Woking, by Lucy Barker

From the moment the curtain went up on Aladdin, my five-year-old was spellbound by the giant King Cobra snake that reared up at baddie Abanazar’s command. The thing was huge – it reached to the top of the stage and seemed to extend into the audience, complete with flashing eyes and sinuous body.

Next came the double act of David Phipps-Davis as Widow Twankey and Bobby Davro as Wishee Washee, old hats at panto, whose banter was a key feature of the production. Some of the comments were a bit adult for the children but the audience didn’t seem to mind. My son was particularly keen on the donkey derby that took place between ‘mother and son’ although the joke wore a bit thin for me.

As a lifelong Strictly Come Dancing Fan I was looking forward to seeing Brendan Cole, who didn’t disappoint as the Spirit of the Ring and completely overshadowed the special effects genie. I, like the rest of the audience, was entranced by the magic carpet ride taken by Aladdin (although my imagination was stretched a bit too far by the fact that only he got to take a ride, leaving his companions to just walk out of the cave!). This was a definite highlight as, like the snake, Aladdin flew over the audience as well as the stage.

CBBC favourite Mischa Eckersley did a good turn as Princess Jasmine and special mention must also got to Pearce Barro in the title role. The production also featured the talents of veteran ventriloquist Dawson Chance as Chief of Police.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night out, from getting to sneak out at bedtime (his, not mine) with my son; to the display in the foyer of a monkey sneaking into the treasure cove; to obviously the production itself, which contained all the elements of a traditional Christmas pantomime.

The panto runs until 5th January 2020

For more information and tickets

Unicorn adventures

Round & About

The Clandons

Lorrin Chantrey tells us how her four-year-old daughter inspired a unique project, including some festive woodland fun this month & parties galore


My Little Unicorn started two years ago when Lorrin’s daughter Hope started showing locally, for a bit of fun, with her pony.

‘’There’s usually a fancy dress class at local fun shows and this was always Hope’s favourite class. Her little pony Taylor has been as everything you can imagine – Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the frog… We were starting to run out of ideas of what they could go as next. Hope said one day; why don’t we take Snowdrop as a unicorn? It had honestly never crossed my mind to dress a pony as a unicorn…’’

But that’s just what they did and, with Hope as a princess, she won first place and reserve champion of the entire show. ‘’We put photos on Facebook,’’ explains Lorrin, ‘’as you do, proud mum. I then started getting messages from friends of family and friends asking to take Snowdrop the Unicorn along to their kids’ parties. We thought; why not, it’ll help pay for farrier, vet, feed bills etc.’’

After doing this for about a year, roaming with Snowdrop pretty much every weekend, it all became a bit much and inspired the next step. The family decided to build a woodland wonderland at Lorrin’s mum’s stables, ‘’so people could visit us to make ours and the ponies lives easier!’’

After obtaining all the relevant licenses, insurance and inspections, My Little Unicorn is open seven days a week, offering individual experiences, pony trekking, photo shoots, birthday parties, wedding visits, naming ceremonies… ‘’whatever a unicorn can be involved in, we do! We are always adding to the woodland and trying to come up with new ideas on how we could make it more magical, it is a never-ending game!’’

The family used to breed miniature Shetlands some time ago, and breed Appaloosas (with spots). They don’t breed ponies any more but the special ponies they didn’t want to or couldn’t rehome for one reason or another now have a whole new role!

‘’Most ponies born with big bold spots lose their markings as they get older,’’ adds Lorrin, ‘’so it just so happens we’ve ended up with lots of little white ponies that we’ve known most or all of their lives. They have been reared and handle by children most of their lives (bar a couple of rescues) so they adore having lots of fuss and attention. I used to be a photographer full time, so at the start of the summer holidays I decided to take the plunge and become a full time unicorn handler and I can honestly say it’s the best job ever!’’

More info

From 20th-24th December, you can book in to enjoy a 20-30-minute festive experience. Your child/ren will firstly be greeted by a golden unicorn, ride on his jingle sleigh down through the forest to meet two little mischievous pony elves! After warming up with a cup of delicious spiced punch and a yummy festive treat, you will wait to be called by one of the friendly eskimos to meet Santa! Please visit

Missing pieces

Round & About

The Clandons

Locally based charity Jigsaw helps children come to terms with the loss of a parent. Here’s why you should support the Big Christmas Challenge.


More than 40,000 children across the UK lose a parent each year, which works out at 112 every single day.

In Surrey and West Sussex alone, by the age of 16, one in 20 children and young people, will have experienced the death of one or both of their parents.*

Jigsaw (South East) offers a bereavement support service for children and young people who have experienced the death of a significant family member through illness, accident, suicide or murder (through groups in Reigate, Guildford and East Grinstead). Its Grief Project, delivers a six-week support group for families.

‘It was great to share our memories and to realise you are not on your own’

‘Made me realise how much it effected me and it helped a lot that I’m not the only one going through it and everything will be OK’

Through the Preparing for Loss service, Jigsaw offees child-centred, tailored support to families, who will be helped by a named support worker. This individual works on a one-to-one basis with the child and/ or young person when their loved one is terminally ill, at the time of the bereavement and in the initial days and months following the death. They give parental support and advice during this difficult period for the family.

‘First time I’d talked about the painful memories’

‘Jigsaw has brought me so far since my Dad died 3 years ago’

Sophie Bewley, fundraising co-ordinator at Jigsaw (South East) says: “We’re a small charity and we are reliant on fundraising, donations and grants. These ensure we continue to deliver vital services to help children and young people during a devastating and vulnerable period in their lives.

“The Big Give Christmas Challenge runs from noon on Tuesday, 3rd December, until noon on Tuesday, 10th December. During this period all donations to Jigsaw (South East) will be doubled. We’re aiming to raise a minimum of £3,000 during the week.  The money will be used to help fund our Family Groups in 2020.”

Jigsaw (South East)

For information on how to donate to Jigsaw (South East) during the Big Christmas Challenge visit or

If you are interested in volunteering for Jigsaw (South East) please contact Volunteer co-ordinator Sarah Dodson by email:  [email protected]

* Parsons, S (2011) Long-term Impact of Childhood Bereavement: Preliminary Analysis of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). London: Child Well-being Research Centre.

* Child Bereavement Network:

A Wintershall tale…

Round & About

The Clandons

Experience the magic of the Christmas story live at The Wintershall Nativity Play, from Wednesday 18th to Sunday 22nd December.

The critically acclaimed production is presented both outdoors in the rolling landscape of the Wintershall Estate as well as inside the intimate surroundings of Holly Barn.

50 volunteer actors in biblical costumes, alongside a cast of sheep, donkeys, horses and a sheepdog, take the audience on foot from the open air into the atmospheric, candle-lit barn, as the story of how Jesus changed the world unfolds with songs and music and joyful carolling.
The Nativity has become a much-anticipated fixture of the Christmas season, performed by Wintershall, producers of the famous Passion of Jesus which plays to an audience of over 20,000 people each Easter in Trafalgar Square.

Enjoy this timeless festive experience with friends and family as the real story of Christmas is brought to life. Visitors are encouraged to wrap up warmly and mince pies and hot drinks will be available before and after the performance.

Wintershall first performed The Nativity in 1989, with a cast headed by Peter and Ann Hutley and their family on their beautiful farm, the Wintershall Estate, an area of extraordinary natural beauty in the Surrey Hills. The cows were evicted from the barn for a night and a handful of people came to see the makeshift production. One of the wise men found himself wearing Ann’s fur hat and their pregnant daughter-in-law sat on a bale of hay with a torch to light the action.
Now Holly Barn is a licensed theatre and 6,000 visitors come to see the 90-minute nativity every year, with tickets selling out for the last two years. It featured on the BBC’s Songs of Praise in 1996 and again in 2004. In 2013, the nativity was performed in the BBC’s Piazza in London to critical acclaim.

More info

The Wintershall Nativity Play will be performed on 18th December at 1pm & 4.30pm, 19th & 20th December at 4.30pm and 7pm, 21st December at 11am, 2pm & 5pm and 22nd December at 2pm and 5pm.
Performances are 90 minutes long and there is free parking. Tickets £9-£20 with a family ticket (two adults, two children) £50 & £55. Not advised for under 5s. Book early to secure your preferred date and time.
To book please call 01793 418299 or visit

Match made in heaven

Round & About

The Clandons

The story behind a local production of Little Matchstick Girl at Farnham Maltings has an equally moving significance & legacy

The Little Matchstick Girl is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most evocative and best-loved fairytales. And this month the tale is brought to life on the Farnham Maltings stage thanks to an equally heartfelt journey.

The show’s producer is Sophie Key whose father, Jeremy Paul, was a well-known television writer, starring in Upstairs Downstairs, Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Lovejoy, Midsomer Murders and Hetty Wainthrope. He originally adapted The Little Match Girl for television in the early 1970s and was then approached by composer Keith Strachan to turn it into a musical, which they did in 1977 at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. ‘’I was six at the time,’’ recalls Sophie, ‘’and I remember the production vividly, which my father also directed. In the 1980s it was adapted again for television starring Twiggy and Roger Daltrey. My sister and mum [well-known actress Patricia Garwood who played Beryl in No Place Like Home in the 1980s] put on a version of it about 10 years ago at The Lighthouse Theatre in Poole, and another sister was in that production.

‘’I took my daughter, Abbie, who was six at the time to see this production, and she absolutely loved it, and has been asking me ever since to put on a production.’’

A decade later, and in a lovely turn of events, this show comes to the Farnham stage and Abbie will star in this production, playing Liza, one of the rich girls the Match Girl meets. ‘’So, this is also an opportunity to pass the magic of the show down to the next generation,’’ adds Sophie. ‘’I have a close personal connection to the show, and it is a fulfilment of a lifetime ambition to put on my own production of it. The reason I am doing it this year is that I sadly lost my mum to cancer in February, and I wanted to put my energies into something creative and positive and something she would have been really proud of me for doing. My dad died eight years ago, so I’m dedicating the production to both their memories.’’

The musical includes the song’Mistletoe & Wine which was the Christmas Number 1 of 1988, recorded by Cliff Richard, and went on to win an Ivor Novello award. Composer Keith Strachan explains how this came about: ‘’Mistletoe & Wine, was a Christmas song to be sung by the cast in the style of a Christmas Carol. We discussed using a traditional carol but decided to write our own. And I kept saying to the others ‘this is a hit’ and I sent it to recording artists but no one was interested in recording it… Well at least not until 1988 when Cliff Richard heard it and made it his own.’’

Sophie lives in Farnham and runs a corporate video production company with her husband. This is the first theatre production she has done for a number of years although she trained originally as a theatre director at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.

‘’I have cast the production using local talent, including actors from FAOS, Haslemere Players, The Grayshott Stagers, Farnham Dance, Showshack Elite Theatre Group, and pupils from Weydon, All Hallows and Frensham Heights. So it’s a real community project. All profits from the production are going to Phyllis Tuckwell.’’

More info

Book your tickets for The Little Match Girl at 2.30pm on Saturday, 14th December by calling 01252 745444 or visit

Running, for good elf

Round & About

The Clandons

Take part in the Santa & Elf fun runs in Hindhead, Godalming and Farnborough this month to raise money for a life-changing charity.

Phyllis Tuckwell’s Santa & Elf Fun Runs are the perfect way to get all the family in the festive spirit this Christmas.

The charity has three events to choose from: the first on Sunday, 1st December, at the picturesque Devil’s Punch Bowl in Hindhead, then The Pepperpot in Godalming for a 4k route on Saturday 14th December and lastly at The Wavell School in Farnborough on Sunday, 15th December.

“This year we’re celebrating 40 years of hospice care,” says fundraising manager Gemma Jones, “so asking everyone who registers to raise just £40 to mark our special ruby anniversary!

“We rely heavily on the support of our community to continue providing our services across west Surrey and north-east Hampshire. We have to raise over £20,000 every day to do this and events like this make a real difference; helping us to raise some of the funds we need. Come along and support Phyllis Tuckwell this Christmas.

More info

Registration is £16 for adults and £9 for children (under 14) and all who register will receive a Santa suit for adults and an elf hat for children. Register in advance as fees will be higher on the day. To register your place visit…

Where to see Santa

Round & About

The Clandons

The friendly fella in the red suit with the long white beard is building up to his busiest time of the year and over the next few weeks there are plenty of places where you can catch him as he stops off on tour before heading back to get those presents ready for 25th December. Here are some of the venues you can catch him…

Santa will be in his magical grotto at Squire’s Garden Centres across Surrey where you can receive an early Christmas present and at the same time ‘give a gift’ to a local charity. Tickets cost £6 per child, with £1 from every ticket to Squire’s local charities. Santa’s grotto is open every Saturday and Sunday and on Christmas Eve, as well as the week leading up to Christmas at many centres. Milford is helping The Meath and Woking is boosting funds for Woking Age Concern. Just turn up on the day. You can also enjoy breakfast with Santa at Frensham, find out more about this and Santa’s grotto at

How about meeting Santa as you see Guildford from the river? Step aboard the Surrey Care Trust’s Swingbridge1 broadbeam boat for a gentle, festive family cruise along the River Wey. The boat will depart from Millmead Island for a 45-minute cruise upstream with stories and presents from Father Christmas. Enjoy mince pies and a glass of mulled wine on the way. Tickets for the trips on 30th November, 1st, 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th December include refreshments plus a present. Book online at or call 01483 444333. All profits to Surrey Care Trust which tackles disadvantage, social exclusion and hardship.

In Painshill, it’s all aboard Santa’s train for a festive treat with a difference to see the main man himself in their Grade I listed Crystal Grotto. Take a journey around the stunning views of Painshill on the train before stopping off at the grotto to meet Santa and collecting a present from him and his elves. Visit Santa’s snow train and crystal grotto from 1st to 22nd December, booking essential. More information and tickets at

Experience the magic of Christmas at Chobham Adventure Farm where Santa and his elves will be sprinkling some festive dust. There’ll be lessons in elf magic so you can become a true elf helper. Help Mrs Claus decorate gingerbread and join in a teddy bear making workshop. Tickets include entry to the farm park as well as to see Santa, pre-booking advised, 30th November to 24th December. To find out more go to

Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas are visiting Hatchlands Park, East Clandon, where you can meet him or her in their cosy festive sitting room, enjoy a chat and collect a present – ideal for 2-8 year olds. Santa and Mrs Christmas will be meeting and greeting on 30th November and 1st, 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd December. Booking essential,

Enjoy a warm welcome from Santa’s elves, take an outdoor train ride followed by a visit to see Father Christmas in his cellar grotto at Denbies Wine Estate. Each child will receive a gift, enjoy the train ride, Santa’s sticker book and Christmas crafts in the Santa’s cellar (£8.50 per child). Various dates from 30th November. Visit for details and to book.

Journey through a Christmas wonderland with plenty to enchant young and old at The Rural Life Centre in Farnham – take a ride through the woods on the Old Kiln Light Railway and visit the elves’ workshop, meet the animals in the stable, enter into the Christmas spirit with twinkling lights, festive music and a visit to Father and Mother Christmas in their magical grotto where each child will receive a gift. Visit on 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th. To book go to

There’s another chance to meet Santa in Farnham at Birdworld where you can get up close with Santa’s reindeer and some of the friendly farm animals before entering a magical world of animated characters in winter wonderland settings. As you walk through the different scenes, enjoy some banter with the elves on your way to meet Santa to receive your gift. Adults aren’t forgotten with a mince pie and hot fruit punch. Visit on 30th November and 1st, 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th and 18th-24th December. To book visit

Don’t be surprised if you see Santa paying a visit to Haslemere Museum Christmas market, tell him what’s on your wish list on 1st December before taking a gift home. The week before Christmas the man in the red suit is stopping by again, popping into Santa’s Victorian Parlour on 20th and 21st December and 23rd and 24th December and again your child will take home a gift. There’s no need to book for ether of these events. There’s also a special opening of the parlour on 23rd December from 10am-11am for families with children who have an autism spectrum condition. Booking is essential for this visit

Travel on The Watercress Line on a festive train for a magical trip where Santa and his jolly helpers visit you in your seat with a gift. Grown-ups get treated to white wine and mince pies, while children enjoy a soft drink and gingerbread man. Each child will also receive an activity pack to keep them entertained on the journey. Advanced booking essential for this popular event in Alresford on 30th November, 1st, 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th and 21st to 24th December, various times each day. For more details and to book visit