Match made in heaven

Round & About

West Sussex

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

West Sussex

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

West Sussex

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

Half term at National Trust

Round & About

West Sussex

Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

Hatchlands Park 
There’s a whole host of activities at Hatchlands Park this half term including plenty of pumpkins for you to carve and a new trail in the parkland. The little ones can scamper about in the tree house and bug burrow. Explore Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren and get to grips with hand-crafted willow tunnels, domes, balance beams, sculptures and a totem pole.
October half-term trail 
Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-4pm
Pick up a sheet from reception to discover forgotten folklore and seasonal superstitions on a trail through the parkland and claim your pumpkin prize at the end. £3

Dapdune Wharf 
As darkness falls on Saturday 26 October, test your fitness and your fears in the 2k night time run around the haunted Wharf and island. Look out for the witch of the Wharf and a string of spooky surprises on the way. 2k run, jog or walk.  Soup from 4.30pm, warm up from 6pm.  Run starts at 6.15pm
Dressing up encouraged.
£2.50 for bowl of soup and fun run.
Booking essential, call 01483 561389

Petworth House and Park 
Visit Petworth House and Park this October half-term and join in some awesome autumnal fun. Take part in the fun, imaginative trail, helping a little bat plan a party. Plus make your own Bat Box at one of our craft days over half term.
Autumn Trail 
26th October – 3rd November, 10am-4pm
It’s party time at Petworth! One of the young bats is throwing a huge spooky Halloween bash for the creatures in the Pleasure Ground but he can’t find any of them. Some of the animals are just too scared of bats to come to the party. Can you find them and discover if bats are as scary as they think?
Find all of the animals and answer the questions on the trail sheet to complete the trail and win a prize.
The trail is suitable for children aged 5 and upward and is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Prizes can be claimed at either Church Lodge or Car Park Receptions. £3
Spot the pumpkins 
Pumpkins have been spotted growing in the strangest of places at Petworth this Autumn. Some have even popped up in the mansion! Can you help find them for our house team? Find them all and get a sticker reward. £3
Halloween Crafts ‘Make Your Own Bat Box’ 
29th, 30th and 31st October, 11am-4pm
Come to one of the autumn craft sessions and build and decorate your very own bat box to take away and hang in your garden. £5

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties

Fabulous Fireworks

Round & About

West Sussex

Flash, bang, wallop… it’s fireworks time!

Remember, remember the 5th of November… it’s that time of year again when we mark Guy Fawkes’s plot to overthrow the king and blow up Parliament in 1605. Bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King and since then the event is commemorated with fireworks and burning effigies. Expect to see flashes of colour and hear loud bangs and whizzes as thousands enjoy the annual spectacle. Here’s just some of the displays you can enjoy locally…


* Whitehill & Bordon Fireworks Display

Country Market, Farnham Road, Sleaford, Bordon GU35 0QP – 6th November

Fireworks and funfair from 5pm-10.30pm

Refreshments, onsite parking & free bus from Bordon

Tickets £5 adults, £3 children aged 5-15, under 5s free


* Fantastic Fireworks

Medstead CofE primary school, Roedowns Road, GU34 5LG – 5th November

Expect a stunning display from Platinum Fireworks in support of FOMS, 5.30pm-8pm

Ticket details unavailable at time of going to press


* Chawton Fireworks & Bonfire Evening

Chawton village – 2nd  November

Gates will open at 5pm for food and drinks

The bonfire will be lit at 6pm with fireworks starting at approx 6.30pm

Please note parking will be limited within the village, there will be designated parking areas.Where possible please park outside the village and walk to the event and remember to bring a torch.

Adults £5, under 16’s free as part of a family group   Unaccompanied teenagers £2


* Fireworks Fiesta

Fleet Lions Club, Calthorpe Park, Reading Road North, GU51 4AD – 2nd November

Gates open 5pm, fireworks start 6.30pm. Join in the fun, with glow sticks, fibre optics & LED toys on sale as well as a variety of food stalls. Also guest appearance from some of the cast from Starburst panto Aladdin. Tickets for sale until 2pm on the day (family tickets not available on the gate). Also available from Serendipity, 295 Fleet Road. Family tickets £15 (two adults, two children), under-fives free.



* Petersfield Round Table Fireworks

Bell Hill Recreation Ground, GU32 3BU – 2nd November

The 28th year of the Petersfield Round Table Fireworks display, all proceeds from this event will be donated to local charities and good causes, last year’s event raised more than £12,000.

Gates open, food & bar opens 5.30pm, bonfire lit 6.30pm, fireworks 7pm

Tickets in advance: £8 adults (£10 full price), £4 children (£5 full price), family £16 (£20 full price). Full price tickets on the gate, cash only


* Alresford Rotary Fireworks

Arlebury Park, SO24 9EP – 1st November

Join the procession to an impressive fireworks display. The evening will start at 7pm when the torchlight procession leaves from the top of town on its way to Arlebury Park. The bonfire will be lit around 8pm, with the fireworks following.

Food and refreshments will be available, as well as glow sticks.

Ticket details unavailable at time of going to press, proceeds for Rotary’s good causes


* The 61st charity Winchester Bonfire & Fireworks

The Broadway & Recreation Ground, Winchester – 9th November

Bonfire procession from King Alfred’s statue 6pm, bonfire lit in fields behind River Park Leisure Centre 7.15pm, fireworks start 7.45pm.

Tickets £5 until 8th November (also at retailers), £7.50 on the day, £35 premium tent tickets (online only)

Full details


* Dunhurst Fireworks

Dunhurst School GU32 2DR – Friday, 8th November

Food, bar and crepes from 6pm, bonfire lit 6.45pm, fireworks start 7pm

Adults £12.50, all children free

Non Dunhurst pupils will require tickets and all non-boarders must be accompanied by an adult

To book visit


* Rushmoor Fireworks Spectacular

Manor Park, High Street, Aldershot – Saturday, 2nd November

The Rushmoor Borough Council organised event has been held at Manor Park for more than 20 years and has grown to be one of the largest public fireworks events in the region, regularly attracting around 10,000 people. Gates open at 5pm.

A large funfair, with catering vehicles offering food and refreshments, will be available leading up to the 20-minute firework spectacular, starting at 7.30pm

Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

No sparklers, alcohol or dogs allowed.


* Space Flight Fireworks Night

Fontwell Park Racecourse – Saturday, 2nd November

Join the celebrations of 50 years of space exploration with an out of this world theme and firework display.

Gates open at 5pm with plenty of food and drink options, Horton’s Funfair and live entertainment from the Spirit FM stage.

The musical firework display takes off at 8pm from the Centre course.

For ticket information and to book visit


* Farnham Fireworks & Torchlit Procession

Farnham Park, Folly Hill, GU9 0AU – 9th November

The Farnham Round Table event will start with the procession at 6.15pm, marching up Castle Street into the park led by a Scottish pipe band. Enjoy food, mulled wine, Hogback beer, children’s rides and a best guy competition. Bonfire lit 7.15pm, display to music starts 7.45pm. Advance tickets can be bought from


*  Fireworks Display

RHS Wisley, GU23 6QB – 2nd November

Gates open 5pm, fireworks 6pm. Tickets £10 adults, £5 children. Visit


* Torchlight Procession & Fireworks Display

Stoke Park, Guildford, GU1 1ER – 2nd November

Torch sales 6-7pm, 6.45pm mayor’s address, 7pm torchlight procession starts, 8pm fireworks start

£5 per person, £10 per family, all profits to local good causes. Visit


* Cranleigh Lions Bonfire & Fireworks

Cranleigh Common, GU6 8LU – 2nd November

Fun starts from 1pm with a fun fair, also Friday evening. Procession starts from Park Drive 6pm, winning ‘Guy’ placed on bonfire 6.45pm, fireworks display to music 7.30pm, fun fair on The Common 8pm. Free, £5 donations suggested to help local charities. For full details, visit


* Fireworks Spectacular Family Raceday

Ascot Racecourse – 2nd November

After a day’s racing, enjoy more than 11,000 shots released to a timed playlist of songs. Tickets adults (13+) £7 advance, £10 on the day, child (5-12) £5 advance, £8 on the day – access to the course after 4pm, fairground rides from £1

For more information and to book tickets, visit


* Woking Fireworks 2019

Woking Park – 2nd November

Fireworks display synchronised to music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, with fun fair, food and drink. Gates and funfair 5.30-9.30pm, fireworks display 7.30pm. Advance tickets adult £5, child £3, family £12; on the night, adult £6, child £4, family £15. All proceeds to charities chosen by Woking District Rotary Club.


* Send Marsh Bonfire Fun

Send Marsh Green, Woking GU23 6LA – 2nd November

Send Scouts annual bonfire, starts 6pm with torchlight procession and bonfire
lighting, before display
starts 7pm.


*  Fireworks Display & Bonfire Night

Haslemere Museum garden, High Street, Haslemere, GU27 2LA – 2nd November

Enjoy a dazzling display by FAB Fireworks, doors open 6.30pm, fireworks 7.30pm. Enjoy the display with burgers, hotdogs and mulled wine.

Tickets £6 museum members, £8 non-members, booking in advance advised


*  Guy Fawkes Fireworks & Bonfire

Chiddingfold Bonfire, GU8 4TX – 2nd November

Food stalls and beer tent open at 5pm with the park and ride open from 5.30pm. Torches on sale from 6.30pm before procession starts at 7pm. Bonfire lit 7.30pm, fireworks start 8pm. Prize draw 8.30pm.


* Bonfire & Fireworks

Bisley village green, School Close, GU24 9EG – 2nd November

Bonfire lit at 6.30pm, fireworks start at 7pm.

There’ll be burgers, hotdogs, hot drinks, sweets and glow sticks for sale. No sparklers please.

Event is raising funds for Bisley Scout Group


* Bonfire & Fireworks

Pirbright Village Primary School, School Lane, GU24 0JN – 8th November

Professional display in aid of Friends of Pirbright School with themed bonfire, refreshments, bar and BBQ

Gates open 5.30pm, bonfire lit 6pm, fireworks 7pm.

Tickets adults £5, children £3.50


* Farnham Fireworks & Torchlit Procession

Farnham Park, Folly Hill, GU9 0AU – 9th November

The Farnham Round Table event will start with the procession at 6.15pm, marching up Castle Street into the park led by a Scottish pipe band. Enjoy food, mulled wine, Hogback beer, children’s rides and a best guy competition. Bonfire lit 7.15pm, display to music starts 7.45pm. Tickets from


* Bonfire & Fireworks

Bramley Field, GU5 0AX – 9th November

Assembly of ‘Guys’ in library car park 6pm, torchlight procession 6.40pm, bonfire lit 7.10pm, fireworks 7.45pm (all times are approximate). Free, donations welcome.


* Fireworks Display & Bonfire Night

Beacon Hill playing fields, Tilford Road, Hindhead GU26 6RF – 9th November

BBQ, mulled wine, hot chocolate & refreshments, glow sticks & much more courtesy of the Friends of Beacon Hill School, from 4.30pm

Tickets: adults £6, children £4, family (2+2) £18

Discounted tickets available. All proceeds towards the learning environment at Beacon Hill Primary School.


* Fireworks Extravaganza

Bushy Hill Junior School, Sheeplands Avenue, Merrow GU1 2SG – 7th November

The annual fireworks display takes place from 6pm. Hot dogs, soup, drinks and glow sticks will be on sale. You will need to arrive before 7pm as gates are closed after that. Please park considerately. No sparklers thank you.

Tickets will be available on the gate, adults £6, children £4. Under 2s free. All proceeds go to the Friends Association of Bushy Hill Junior School.


* Fireworks Display

Farnborough Football Club – 3rd November

Enjoy a fireworks display, fun fair and disco.

Turnstiles open at 6pm. Bar open from 4pm. Fun Fair opens at 3.30pm. Display lights up from 7pm.

Please show your Eventbrite ticket and ID at the turnstiles.

Adults £5, under 16s £3, under 2s free (must be carried, or on lap if seated) but must be accompanied by a paying and responsible adult.

Onsite parking is limited, £2 per car. Please bring the correct change.

To book visit

Autumn walks

Round & About

West Sussex

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Surrey & West Sussex

Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, is the National Trust’s only arboretum. Enjoy a walk through the woods as the autumn explodes with colour while younger ones can clamber over the new tree adventure, complete with climbing wall, fireman’s pole, rope tunnel and ladders. Dogs welcome. Normal entry. Facilities & tea room.

Hatchlands Park at East Clandon, near Guildford, has a 4.5km circular walk which follows the edge of the park through woodland. Dogs welcome. Free parking. Facilities, café & shop.

Admire the colours over the Devil’s Punch Bowl on the Hidden Hindhead Trail, the lovely walk crosses the A3 and takes in some spectacular views. Dogs welocome. Car parking. Café and food kiosk & facilities.

Take in Dapdune Wharf to St Catherine’s on a River Wey walk at Guildford. This dog friendly route offers some spectacular views at the highest point of the walk before you descend to the valley bottom. Parking available.

Petworth boasts 700 acres to explore – but you don’t need to do them all in one day! Stroll round the Pleasure Grounds, enjoy a three-mile walk through the park or discover the ancient trees that dominate the skyline here. Parking, café and facilities. Dogs allowed off leads in deer park and on a lead in the Pleasure Grounds.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Headlines & Hedgerows

Round & About

West Sussex

Our countryside & its wildlife is at risk. We encourage you to join the campaign to save our endangered hedgerows and share an exclusive extract from John Craven’s new book.

The hedgerows that criss-cross our countryside are not only an iconic sight, but a vital habitat and corridor for many of our native species. However, they are becoming increasingly fragmented which is threatening the wildlife that depends on them.

We’ve lost about half our hedgerows since WWII. Although the rate of direct hedge removal has been reduced, hedgerows are being lost simply through how they are managed.

“With 70% of UK land being agricultural, hedgerows offer the safest route for wildlife to travel across farmland,” says Megan Gimber, key habitats project officer at PTES. “Sadly, many hedgerows are becoming ‘gappy’, which fragments this amazing network. And, without more sensitive management, many hedgerows are at risk of being lost altogether. This is problematic, especially when we’re seeing a fall in numbers of the animals that depend on them, such as hedgehogs, bats, hazel dormice and song thrush.”

In Britain, habitat fragmentation is thought to be a limiting factor for the distribution of some species and a threat to others’ survival. Corridors play a vital role preserving a number of species deemed ‘at risk’. Some 16 out of the 19 birds included in the Farmland Bird Index, used by government to assess the state of farmland wildlife, are associated with hedgerows.

Healthy hedgerows reduce soil erosion, flooding damage and air and water pollution. They provide forage for pollinating insects, predators to keep crop pests in check and shelter for livestock, reducing deaths from exposure and improving milk yields. Hedges help us fight climate change by storing carbon and reduce the damage from flooding.
To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more, visit

Hedgerow. Credit Allen Paul Photography &
An extract from John Craven’s new book

Headlines and Hedgerows is published by Michael Joseph

We have all heard that well-known piece of advice first coined by W.C. Fields: “Never work with animals or children.” Well, I’ve done both throughout my career (in fact, I couldn’t have succeeded without them!) so in my case at least that old adage is totally wrong.

I suppose one reason for my longevity is that I have never been very ambitious. I have not sought the headlines, never seriously courted celebrity nor been tempted to take chances on high-profile but potentially risky and short-lived programmes – apart from one, and that was Newsround, which was a six-week experiment in 1972. Thankfully it is still going strong so, as it turned out, it was not much of a gamble and a recent poll in Radio Times placed Newsround at number three in a list of the top 20 children’s programmes of all time.

And Countryfile is often in the top 20 of most-watched shows. During my 30 years there I’ve seen rural issues ranging from social isolation and deprivation to the way our food is produced climb higher and higher up the national agenda. That our audience is split pretty evenly between country dwellers and townies proves to me that, united as a nation in this at least, we want to preserve, protect and enjoy our glorious countryside…

For my Countryfile interview with Prime Minister David Cameron, we met for an hour at Cogges Manor Farm, a rural heritage centre in his Oxfordshire constituency. The cameras were set up around the kitchen table and before he arrived a lady who seemed to be in charge of his “image” wanted to know where he’d sit. She checked the angles and saw a large Welsh dresser in the background. “Could we move some of those plates and ornaments,” she said. “It’s too fussy.” It proved that politicians have learned to be careful what’s behind them on screen. An exit sign, for instance, would be the last thing they wanted.

When Mr Cameron came in, dressed casually in a jumper – this, after all, was Countryfile – he said “I was brought up on you, John!” I don’t feel particularly old but it’s alarming when the man leading the country says you were part of his childhood! We had a wide-ranging conversation and he had no idea of the questions beforehand. I challenged him on his plan to make his administration the greenest government ever (which didn’t really happen) and overdevelopment threats to the landscape. “I care deeply about our countryside and environment,” he told me earnestly. “I’d no more put them at risk than I would my own family.”

Today, I wonder what he’d make of the report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England revealing 15,500 new houses have been approved in areas of outstanding natural beauty in the years since. We also talked of his plans for a free vote in Parliament on bringing back hunting with hounds (which never happened) and persuading all other EU countries to enforce farm animal welfare laws as diligently as the UK (still waiting for that). I was impressed by his detailed knowledge of rural issues, even when pressed for details. A few months later at a Downing Street lunch for people involved in all aspects of the countryside, he smiled and said he hadn’t expected to be grilled by “a rural Jeremy Paxman.”

The Great British Hedgerow Survey

To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more

Think pink!

Round & About

West Sussex

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – support the cause by buying these items & wearing pink on Friday, 18th October

1. Tickled Pink Ben & Jerry’s Love Is Topped, £2.50.

2. Dove Pomegranate, £2.85.

3. PG Tips, £2.

4. ghd gold ink on pink styler, £139.

5. Simple wipes, £3.

6. Pot noodle.

7. Vaseline Rosy Lip Tin, £1.50.

8. Lulu Guinness Breast Cancer Now Natasha in chalk blush, £145 .

9. ELEMIS Breast Cancer Care limited-edition Pro-collagen Marine Cream, 100ml.

Find out more

Please visit website to join the campaign!

Guildford town race

Round & About

West Sussex

Guildford’s first closed-road running race starting from the town’s cobbled high street takes place on 13th October. 

More than 1,000 runners are expected to take part, choosing to run either 5k or 10k in support of the charity partner Harrison’s Fund. 

The charity is named after Harrison Smith who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic condition which causes the muscles to waste away. One in 3,500 boys is born with the condition, the average lifespan is just 20 years of age and sadly, it is fatal. 

Dad Alex said they were excited to be the title charity partner for this first race in Guildford. He added: “It is such an iconic place with wonderful vistas that anyone who is a keen runner should take part. 

“By choosing our charity to run for you really can make a direct impact on a young person’s life.” 

Runners of all levels are invited to take part in the chip-timed races which are on flat routes from the cobbles towards Clandon and back. 

There’ll be plenty of points for spectators to stand and cheer runners on as well as live bands along the way to encourage competitors, all of whom will receive bespoke medals at the finish line. 

To take part in the run visit 

If you prefer your entertainment to be more stylish then how about going to the Sky High Ball on 18th October. Now in its seventh year, the ball is the highlight of Harrison’s Fund’s year. After champagne on arrival, you’ll enjoy dinner with wine, table games, a goody bag for the ladies and the opportunity to bid in the silent and live auctions. 

More info

To find out more about this great event and to book a table…