Connect, create, grow

Round & About

Old Woking

Discover the diversity and creativity of Surrey artists as they open their doors for you to explore, meet and enjoy at Surrey Artists Open Studios, June 1st to 23rd

This year’s Surrey Artists Open Studios features more than 250 artists taking part in 165 studios across Surrey with a fantastic array of artworks and disciplines on show to browse and buy.

As well as a chance to meet and talk to artists in their place of work, the summer open studios event offers visitors the opportunity to view demonstrations, buy artwork, enter a free prize and even get involved in creative workshops.

The SAOS launch weekend takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday, 2nd June with artists offering an array of activities exclusively for first weekend visitors to this popular county-wide event, complete with taster workshops featuring different materials across the arts and crafts.

SAOS has been running for 24 years representing the best in the county’s creativity and shining a light on makers, artists and creatives producing everything from ceramics and jewellery to paintings and sculpture.

SAOS Manager Caitlin Heffernan says: “SAOS is a wonderful opportunity to discover the county’s creativity on your doorstep. Not only will you uncover a vast range of artworks made by a truly impressive array of hundreds of individual artists, you will also find some unique pieces to take home with you.

“This year there is an impressive range of workshops to learn new techniques delivered by highly experienced artists. Whatever your taste or budget, SAOS artists offer unique artworks across virtually every discipline from ceramics and sculpture to paintings and jewellery.”

Among artists taking part are Joanna Lloyd Glass in Woking whose work includes sculptures cast from everyday objects such as her mum’s sewing utensils and her dad’s DIY tools. Elaine Winter is opening her studio in Woking for the first time in five years, where you’ll find the walls covered in paintings. Art on A Pot is on show in Woking, with an array of ceramics, jewellery and wall pieces while Louise Rowe whose work can also be seen in Woking, often uses gold leaf as a background to pen and ink drawings of wildlife.

In Englefield Green, printmaker and painter Stefanie Smith employs a variety of methods of produce art work inspired by local woodlands, wildlife and seasonal treasures.

Maria Billington takes much of the inspiration for her metal work from her garden to create her work in steel, copper and aluminium at her studio in Frimley Green. There’s a unique behind the scenes opportunity to ask and learn about the clay to bronze portrait commission process of Marian Rowling in Farnborough where you can ‘get the sculptor’s insight’.

Visit and marvel at the work of landscape painter Stephen Kinder in Godalming. Georgie Gardiner makes vessels and bowls on her potters wheel in Godalming using the technique of paper resist. In Cranleigh you’ll find Monique Birley’s contemporary landscapes, figurative work and still lives, while in Petworth, Sue Ransley takes a lighter look at life through her portraits. Retirements led Michael Colbourne to take a fine art degree and has resulted in the creation of more than 250 pieces of art at his home studio in Fernhurst. Impressionist oil paintings of iconic London, coastal scenes, landscapes, portraits, animals and still life are conjured up by Wendy Richards in Liphook. Jessica Stroud specialises in stained glass in Haslemere where you can see her current commission and small panels for sale.

There are a whole array of creative folk in the Farnham and Alton areas. In Sue Cook’s garden in Dippenhall, visitors will see many paintings on a variety of subjects: landscapes, seascapes, boats, architecture, house portraits, still life and patina. If photography is your thing then you need to visit Kiln Photo in Badshot Lea where you’ll find members’ work in various forms.

The Mill at Elstead is home to Becca Clegg, Beth Kirby, David Dragon and Robyn Horsburgh who collectively will be showing artwork and sculpture alongside smaller more affordable pieces in a rustic setting with food and refreshments on the premises.

In Farnham you can enjoy the work of painter Jackie Rennie, Ruta Brown makes jewellery from precious metals and stones rich in contrast and texture and for something different, take a look at the exquisite hand woven silk scarves made by Carolyn Wallis.

Emma Dunbar is inspired by her daily dog walks and even by supermarket trips to create her colourful paintings in Bordon. Take a trip to Upper Farringdon to view the local landscapes created by artist Fiona Pearce, Andrea Merron has a unique take on the sky in her work and at Atherton Green Art Gallery you’ll find work by more than 25 artists and sculptures in the former Victorian rectory. Seascapes and ceramics can be viewed courtesy of Susannah Acland and Clare Mattey in the Hay Barn Studio.

View the work of a cluster of artists in Guildford including self-taught figurative painter Sinclair Webster, landscapes and still lifes are created by Julie Verity in her Shed aka studio, photography and ceramics are displayed in the peaceful setting of Cathy Pyle’s garden studio and greenhouse alongside Bonnie Rasmusseun’s ceramics. Rosalinda Kightley is inspired by the natural world in her vibrant and colourful floral paintings and for something different how about the comic art / colouring projects of John Charles @ Art & Grind. See abstract landscapes as well as musical figurative work in a variety of media from Andrew Curtis while the love of colour comes through in Sarah Cox’s joyful paintings of the Surrey Hills and Cornish coastline. Pop in to see Gina making lampwork beads in her garden studio. You will also be able to peruse a range of jewellery, ornaments and pictures created using individually made beads.

Artventure Trust is a charity providing visual art sessions for adults with learning disabilities and additional needs through drawing and painting to printmaking, textile, photography, pottery and much more in their purpose-built studio in the grounds of St Peter’s School in Merrow.

Brochures are available from libraries, key galleries and at artists’ studios. Full details, studio addresses and booking for workshops can be found at Open Studios (

Time to Shyne

Round & About

Old Woking

Get ready for ShyneFest, a fun friendly family event in Guildford on May 31st and June 1st for two days of music and merriment

Imagine having more than 250 people at your 40th birthday – that’s exactly how Shyne Adcock celebrated her milestone in 2015 and since then ShyneFest has grown to welcome many hundreds more.

The Friday kicks off with tribute acts Faux Fighters, The Marley Experience and Counterfeit Kylie and returning after their success at WynterFest 2023 are Sorted for Cheese and Fizz bringing their 90s Britpop and indie classics.

Saturday has more music than you could well, shake a drum stick at, and if it’s Good Enough for them, it’s good enough for me as Dodgy are back and this time are they Staying Out for the Summer? And that’s not all with another 16 acts lined up to entertain from 11am through to 11pm – 12 hours of brilliant music to get you up on your feet and having fun!

There’s fun for the young ones in the Kidz Zone with a climbing wall, bubble fairy, football, little racers, circus skills workshops, face painting, glitter tattoos and hair sparkles, story time and stilt walkers.

If you’re having so much fun you don’t want it to end how about camping or glamping the two nights at Merrist Wood. Turn up the glam with a two, four or six person canvas tent,  either traditional Bell tents or the elegant Touareg tents, in the style of the Nomadic tribes of North Africa. Camel Camp build lovely camps at all kinds of events, complete with a reception tent and central meeting, seating and shade areas as well as tea, coffee and cereal to get you started.

Choose a Classic or Sultan style, both with floor rugs, door mats, airbeds and solar lights with full bedding, camp chairs, side tables and more in the Sultans.

To find out more and book visit

Join Woolsack Charity Golf Day

Round & About

Old Woking

Godalming Woolsack Rotary’s ever popular charity fund raiser is at West Surrey Golf Club on Thursday, 2nd May

Our Golf Day is back again and this year we are raising funds for Phyliss Tuckwell Hospice Care, The Royal Surrey Cancer Centre and other Rotary Causes.

The day includes coffee and biscuits on arrival, a round of golf and a two-course buffet meal, entry into the other competitions including longest drive, nearest the pin, best putting and more…
The main competition for the Woolsack Trophy, won last year by the Hurtmore Dream Team, is with Stableford scoring off full handicap, best two scores to count. Handicaps to the World Handicap System (West Surrey Handicap Table) with handicap limits of Men 28 & Ladies 36.

Ladies and mixed teams are particularly welcomed.

Morning Tee-off times normally between 8am and 12.30pm depending on numbers.

There will also be a well-stocked raffle to support including opportunities to bid to play on other courses.
To download an Entry Form click here.

Zone out!

Karen Neville

Old Woking

You’ve done all the preparation and your garden is good to be ‘glammed up’ all ready for you to sit back and relax and enjoy the summer

Courtyard, green oasis, large and luscious, small and secluded – whatever type of garden you have you’ll want to make it work for you and its place in your life.

An increasingly popular way to make the most of your garden is to create zones or spaces designed to suit a particular purpose.

Careful planning even in smaller gardens can result in two or three areas, try a larger focal zone with one or two smaller ones, it will largely depend on how you use your garden space.

Most of us want a relaxation area, somewhere to lie back on a lounger and probably an entertaining/dining area too. Perhaps you work from home and a garden room offers you some escape or just want a space to chill out?

Sit back and consider the choices – patio and/or decking are a good place to start, make space for both if you can and you’re creating zones without realising it. Seating is a must, chairs and a table, anything from a cute bistro set to a full on comfy garden sofa taking the indoors out or a wooden table and chairs fit for a banquet. You may find that once you’ve created your zones, the seating falls into place naturally.

Add a touch of class, comfort and luxury to your garden with unique, high quality rattan and teak furniture and ornaments from Rattan & Teak. Customers can be assured of an expert, premium installation service and bespoke delivery that befits the superior product they are purchasing. Visit for more.

If you’re looking for high-quality long-lasting outdoor furniture covers or gazebo side panels check out family-run, UK-based cover manufacturer – Kover-it. They manufacture all types of covers, including for sofa sets, BBQs, pool tables, durable waterproof sides for gazebos. All are bespoke and manufactured to ensure the best fit. For more info visit

With over 40 years of experience across our family run buiness, you can be confident Surrey Pools and Water can offer bespoke solutions in all aspects of your garden features, including swimming pools, hot tubs and jacuzzis, water features, breakdowns, repairs and maintenance, liner replacements as well as irrigation and rain water harvesting. Operating across all GU postcodes, we pride ourselves on first class quality, excellent workmanship and customer service. More at

Summer is the time to entertain al fresco and enjoy the fruits of your hard work with friends and family. Explore your dining options, do you like nothing better than the sizzle of a burger on the BBQ, like to mix up your toppings with a pizza oven or will only a full-on outdoor kitchen feed your need?

BBQ areas are rapidly becoming extensions of your kitchen, from live fire cooking to the ease and convenience of a Traeger Wood Fired Grills, Black Box BBQ, near Liss, has knowledgeable staff and all the useful gear to ensure your BBQ area is a great place to relax, eat and entertain. Find out more at and call 01420 612591.

Garden rooms have increasingly become an extension of your home and not just for those who work from home. Always wanted to run your own business but not sure where you’d do i? They make the ideal space for a beauty salon or dog grooming parlour and are a great way to gain an extra room without the cost of moving or an extension.

New Timber Spaces offers the perfect solution for the versatile and personalized outdoor space you’re looking for. Their expertise in designing, building, and customizing garden rooms ensures each customer receives a tailored, high-quality sanctuary that enhances their outdoor lifestyle. Transform your garden with a garden room, cabin or outdoor office with their exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. More at

One thing that’s pretty much a necessity in this country is some sort of shade or cover. Awnings and sails add a decorative touch and are available in a variety of styles and colours. If you’re after a more permanent fixture then pergolas and gazebos will add a stylish touch to cover your furniture or just as a shelter.

In East Hampshire there’s a family firm, Ambassador Timber Buildings, manufacturing and installing premium-quality bespoke, custom-made outdoor buildings in oak, cedar, larch, and other timber, as well as composite cladding finish. They also supply and install aluminium shading solutions. See their advert in this magazine or visit their website –

Need finishing touches to complete your masterpiece? Garden decor such as stylish pots will attract attention, a fire pit will help ward off any chills while lighting will allow you to enjoy your haven late into the night.

Using traditional techniques dating back 4,000 years and hand thrown on the wheel in Crete, these quality pots are fired at 1,150 degrees centigrade, guaranteeing quality and durability, ensuring they are frost proof to endure our winters. Order online at or visit the Crete Pots showroom displaying over 150 pots in the heart of Hampshire.

Prepare for al fresco dining with Culinary Concepts. Set the table with perfect dining pieces and illuminate your space with beautiful garden lanterns. Visit our Hampshire Showroom, at Lodge Farm, Hook Road, North Warnborough, RG29 1HA (just past Newlyns Farm Shop).Visit for latest opening hours.

The door to dreams

Karen Neville

Old Woking

Stepping into a bookshop is like catching up with an old friend, the familiarity and love come flooding back and yet you just know there will be something new to discover. Karen Neville invites you to step inside these independent havens of literature…

As a child I loved pushing open the big wooden door on the bookshop in the town where I grew up to be greeted by an Aladdin’s cave of words wrapped in colourful covers.

There was a whole world waiting to be discovered that ate up much of my pocket and birthday money. The delight I felt when collecting the special copy of Ballet Shoes I’d ordered and handing the assistant the piece of paper with the details felt like I was joining a very special club – the bookshop club.

Sadly that shop is no longer but fortunately for all of us bibliophiles according to the Booksellers Association at the end of 2022 there were 1,072 independent bookshops sharing the love I treasured.

Life’s adventures start with a book according to Blue Bear Bookshop in Farnham which was recently voted 10th in The Times UK independent bookshops guide. Named after a cult novel by Walter Moers, The 131/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, the family-run indie bookshop and café opened in 2019 with a glamorous 1920s inspired interior and serving speciality coffee and cake. The much-loved community hub also offers a diverse schedule of literary and cultural events.

The award-winning Haslemere Bookshop was named the best independent bookshop in the south east of England in the 2022 British Book Awards and deservedly so for the friendly knowledgeable service and wide range of books for all ages, extensive collection of maps, guidebooks and information on local authors. Wander upstairs and you’ll discover three-rooms full of potential hidden treasures nestled among the second-hand treats.

You’ll find more than 7,000 books, cards, games, stationery and more served up at The Old Bakery home of Petworth Bookshop and if it’s old books that are collectible and readable you’re after then head to Reader’s Books in Market Square, Petworth.

One Tree Books in Petersfield is turning 30 this year and in their own words are “passionate about all things literary” and don’t worry if you’re not tempted by what’s on the shelves, they can order in just about anything you want. As with many book shops now, they offer so much more and once you’ve browsed and shopped why not take a moment with your purchase to escape to Ginger’s Café which serves breakfast and lunch in a seated area at the back of the shop or takeaway from the front. Join their book club, go along to one of their special events or book launches or make an appointment with the book doctor for yourself or as a gift. A 30-minute consultation includes coffee and a welcome pack, a chat about your reading tastes and what you love most about books. Musicians can shop the wide range of sheet music on the first floor and order what they can’t find.

Who doesn’t want to run a bookshop-café-bar? ask owners of Goldfinch Books in Alton, Gary, Jude and Andrea for whom it had been a long-held dream and the perfect way to combine their love of literature, music, wine and craft beer – sounds perfect! The trio say: “Books are our passion. Each of us at Goldfinch has our own favourite genres, our go-to books, and our top 10 recommendations. Come in and grab a copy of a new release or an old fave. Browse the shelves without pressure, sit and read for a while, enjoy a coffee, relax and take a breath, or chat with friends. We are here if you want a recommendation, or you just want to talk about books (or anything else for that matter).

“Goldfinch Books is more than a bookshop. It is a place to meet like-minded people, and enjoy spending time. It is somewhere to help us remember to enjoy the journey, and relax our focus a little on the destination.”

They have a special interest in and passion for mental health and have plans to support mental health awareness and education with events and initiatives in the offing.

Laurence Oxley in Alresford has more than seven decades of experience to share with customers, stocking both new and second hand books, including rare and collectible editions as well as art materials, cards, Victorian watercolours and maps.

The Cobham Bookshop has been a thriving indie for more than 30 years and no doubt one of its key attractions is that it welcomes dogs so feel free to take Archie or Ruby along while you browse and shop for novels, children’s books, history, biography and all other genres of non fiction.

Godalming is home to A Novel Idea in more ways than one. It’s a bookshop making a difference in the community, founded by Catalyst and the Welcome Project to help people with their mental health and wellbeing. It is run entirely through donations and volunteer staff with high quality donated fiction, non fiction and children’s books. They also sell second hand vinyl, albums and singles covering rock, pop, soul, folk, musicals, films, classical and more.

As author Evie Woods writes in her novel The Lost Bookshop: “The thing about books… is that they help you to imagine a life bigger and better than you could ever dream of.”

Show your support for independent bookshops in Independent Bookshop Week, June 15th to 22nd, part of the Books Are My Bag campaign, an annual celebration of independent bookshops nationwide, and the role they play in their communities.

The Runnymede is having a makeover…

Round & About

Old Woking

The Runnymede on Thames Hotel and Spa remains open, book your Summer stay at Runnymede and enjoy the outdoor pool and boats from the 5th May

Eagle-eyed locals & spa-lovers might have noticed that The Runnymede is being refurbished. With Warner Hotels now offering breaks from later on this year, we wanted to share a sneak peek of what’s to come in the autumn…

All 205 rooms will have a stylish new look with characterful artwork that reflects the history and natural beauty of the surrounding area. Fans of The Runnymede, which overlooks the Thames, will be pleased that the signature duck association will remain! There will also be 25 newly built rooms and those overlooking the river will have the added luxury of balconies.

There will be a choice of two restaurants – Market Kitchen and Brasserie32. Market Kitchen will replace Leftbank and will feature a deli bar, fresh fish counter and a roast of the day, carved to order. At the other side of the property, Brasserie32 will be located in the former Lock Bar & Kitchen with a menu filled with British classics. The property will also feature The Coffee Nest, an informal setting for sweet treats, tea and coffee, alongside further bars and lounges.

Those who would otherwise visit London for the theatre won’t be disappointed, as the hotel will host a diverse programme of entertainment in the new Live Lounge. From comedians to tribute acts and party bands, every stay promises an impressive line-up of unique shows.

The Runnymede remains the go-to place for R&A, with treatments to help put a spring in your step, including the highly recommended Salt & Polish Scrub: a thorough body exfoliation followed by an application of nourishing body oil to leave the skin smooth and free of dry skin.

Alongside plenty of entertainment, there will be ample time for R&R at the spa with pools, a sauna, steam room, state-of-art gym, studio room for yoga and other fitness classes, a relaxation lounge, and an extended wellness programme. This is in addition to a range of soothing treatments designed to nourish your mind, body, and soul. From May to September (weather permitting), guests will also have use of the outdoor pool with sun loungers.

There will also be activities to choose from including tennis, archery, laser pistol shooting, tasting experiences and cooking demos. During the summer months, there will also be boat hire available from the property’s private jetty. So much to look forward to!

Not forgetting the Runnymede’s complimentary shuttle service to and from Windsor!

Breaks are available to book online for autumn onwards. In the mean time the hotel will continue to operate as an independent property for stays, dining and spa treatments and days, though the team do advise that the hotel might not be looking its best while construction work is going on.

For spring and summer bookings book directly with The Runnymede; The Runnymede on Thames | Windsor Spa Hotel | Egham Hotel (

Placebo join Southampton Summer Sessions

Round & About

Old Woking

Rock legends join Tom Jones and Madness for this Summer’s hottest shows

Alternative Rock legends Placebo are the latest headliner to be announced for the somewhat long-named TK Maxx presents Southampton Summer Sessions. Guildhall Square is well known as the Cultural Quarter of the City. Proud to be the hub of live music venues, museums, galleries, bars, cafes, and restaurants. This summer will see the square transformed into a buzzing live music hub, welcoming artists from across the globe for this series of Southampton Summer Sessions. That’s far too much sibilance for any festival.

Placebo bought a touch of gothic androgyny and a smart edge to a scene that, in the aftermath of the Grunge explosion, was primarily obsessed with Blur and Oasis. The band are now a duo and still going strong after 8 albums. So, whether it’s Nancy Boy or Every You Or Every Me that floats your boat, Placebo should have the songs to deal with any residual teenage angst that might be knocking about.

Support comes from Friedberg – a four-piece led by Anna Friedberg. Friedberg is also known as Anna F, who was a successful pop star in her native Austria. Now fronting a band comprised of her friends, they specialise in making quirky pop anthems – as evidenced on their latest release Hello or the frantic Midi 8. Definitely worth checking them out live.

These latest names join the already announced Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Tom Jones, Madness, Paloma Faith, and Kaiser Chiefs on the growing lineup of incredible acts taking over Guildhall Square for Southampton Summer Sessions from 15 to 30 June.

Tickets for the latest show go on general sale on Friday 08 March at 10 am via / Fans can follow @smmrsessions for the latest news and updates.

 Placebo headline the festival on Wednesday 26 June

 For ticket information and further updates, music fans should follow @smmrsessions and visit

A virtual shaggy dog story

Round & About

Old Woking

Grand Theft Auto and AI help Surrey team turn dog pics into 3D models

Photographs of dogs could soon be used to help generate 3D models more accurately than ever before – thanks to an award-winning study from the University of Surrey and the famous video game, Grand Theft Auto.  

The researchers taught an artificial intelligence (AI) system to predict the 3D pose from a 2D image of a dog – which they trained on images they created using Grand Theft Auto V.  

Moira Shooter, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Surrey, said:  

“Our model was trained on CGI dogs – but we were able to use it to make 3D skeletal models from photographs of real animals. That could let conservationists spot injured wildlife, or help artists create more realistic animals in the metaverse.” 

One way to teach AI to get 3D information from 2D images is to show it photos while giving it information about 3D ‘ground truth’ – where the objects actually are in 3D space. For humans, that means wearing motion capture suits.  

Even on their best behaviour, getting dozens of dogs to wear motion capture suits can prove challenging.   

Instead, researchers created a myriad of virtual dogs to study.  

They altered the code of Grand Theft Auto, switching the main character for one of eight kinds of dog – a process known as “modding”. They generated 118 videos of the dogs sitting, walking, barking and running in a range of different weather and lighting conditions.  

The team called their new database ‘DigiDogs’ – made up of 27,900 frames. They will now fine-tune it using Meta’s DINOv2 model to make sure it can predict a 3D pose just as well from real dog pictures.  

Moira added, “3D poses contain so much more information than 2D photographs. From ecology to animation – this neat solution has so many possible uses.”  

Here comes the science bit…

The research won the prize for Best Paper at the IEEE/CVF’s Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision.

It helps promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 15 (life on land). 

All images were produced by Moira Shooter of the University of Surrey, using the engine of GTA 5 (Rockstar Games). 

The Talbot supports local charities

Ellie Cox

Old Woking

Partnerships with charities Oakleaf and Eikon aim to raise mental health awareness and support those in need

The Talbot, a premier hotel in Ripley owned by Bespoke Hotels, is partnering with local charities Oakleaf and Eikon in 2024 to support the mental health of young people and adults in Surrey.

Oakleaf is a mental health charity based in Guildford that supports clients aged 16+ who are managing their mental health. The charity’s mission is to foster confidence and reduce social isolation through a wide range of wellbeing activities and support groups, work-related training and employment guidance, and counselling. Oakleaf also acts as a social enterprise, selling gardening services to the public – the funds of which are fed straight back to the charity.

Eikon supports children and young people in Surrey who are struggling with poor emotional wellbeing and mental health for whatever reason, giving them the skills to respond positively to life’s challenges and thrive. Their focus is on prevention or helping early on, before a concern becomes a crisis.

Arvind Azad, Hotel Manager at The Talbot, is excited about the collaboration: “I have spent some time getting to learn and know more about both Eikon and Oakleaf and the work they do to support young people and adults in Surrey. I, along with my team here at The Talbot, am delighted and keen to get involved to be able to support both charities this year.” 

Jen Clay, Head of Fundraising and Engagement at Oakleaf, said: “We are thrilled to be supported by The Talbot in 2024. Together, we aim for the partnership to create a positive impact, ensuring more people in Surrey who need mental health and wellbeing support, receive it.”

Becky Hughes, Grants and Corporate Partnerships Manager at Eikon, said “It is so encouraging to see the community coming alongside local charities in this way. This partnership will help raise awareness of the mental health crisis, as well as raising vital funds to enable Eikon and Oakleaf to provide support to children and adults in Surrey.”

The Talbot has set up online fundraising pages for Oakleaf and Eikon, viewable here.

Calendar Girls returns to the stage

Round & About

Old Woking

The true story of the Calendar Girls launched a global phenomenon: a million copycat calendars, a record-breaking movie, the fastest-selling stage play in British theatre history, and now a musical written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth.

Tim Firth’s involvement with Calendar Girls began with the original movie 20 years ago and along with his writing partner of the musical, Gary Barlow, he has reworked this new production ahead of an extensive UK tour. Tim tells us a little about the new musical and the inspiration behind its reimagining.

“There was something in the heart of lockdown that was all about time; about suddenly being dumped with a container load of it, about managing that, not resenting it, realising you were lucky to have it and not to waste it…if you were well enough to enjoy it. Of course, it’s only looking back that we can get that kind of perspective. For the pair of us it just presented as an inexplicable urge to DO stuff; to write, to plot new work and to re-examine work that already existed.  This led us to new projects; it also turned our heads back towards Calendar Girls the Musical. 

Now, by this time it was a good few years since we had written the show and there was justifiable trepidation in returning to the project. After all it had been in the West End, done a national tour and was due to be performed by many companies around the UK if lockdown finished. However, that UK was going to have changed. A strange sense of liberation came out of the confinement that meant, we thought – whatever you’re thinking, just try it. Take the chance. Have a fresh look. Take the jump.

Maybe we’ll never get that sense of empowerment again. It was like the bravery you have when starting out as a kid and feel you have nothing to lose. That was it; the spirit we momentarily regained meant we re-wrote like we had nothing to lose. In a sense we were led by the words of Dare, one of the songs in the show; something about taking a jump without the fear meaning you stand a better chance of making a landing on the other side.

The film is twenty years old this year, the real girls more than twenty years older but their story, like their sunflowers, seems to keep reseeding of its own accord; and when it does, the flower is always, always the same. It’s only the shape that changes.”

After opening to rave reviews in the autumn, the brand-new production of the smash-hit production Calendar Girls the Musical, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth comes to Woking from Tuesday 26 to Saturday 30 March.

Calendar Girls the Musical brings together a stunning cast of music, stage, and television stars. Baring it all in 2024 are Laurie Brett (Eastenders) as Annie, Liz Carney (The Full Monty, The Mousetrap), Helen Pearson (Hollyoaks), Samantha Seager (Coronation Street), Maureen Nolan (The Nolans, Blood Brothers), Lyn Paul (The New Seekers, Blood Brothers) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s War). They are joined by Colin R Campbell, Andrew Tuton, alongside Jayne Ashley, Lucas August and Victoria Hay in the ensemble.

Following the death of a much-loved husband, a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute are prompted to do an extraordinary thing and set about creating a nude calendar to raise money for charity. But upturning preconceptions is a dangerous business and none of the women are prepared for the emotional and personal ramifications they will face as the fabulous and funny calendar brings each woman unexpectedly into flower.

This production sees this incredible true story continue to bloom, this reimagined book and new music sees the show packed with unforgettable songs, bringing the joy to life live on stage. 

Tim Firth and Gary Barlow said: “The chance to look again with fresh eyes at our musical is something that came as an unexpected opportunity during lockdown and we’re both hugely excited not only with the shape we found, but also to work on a new production of it with such an amazing cast” 

This tour is proud to be supporting Blood Cancer UK, the charity dedicated to funding research into all blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as offering information and support to blood cancer patients. Every performance continues to add to the millions already raised for Blood Cancer UK and prove that there is no such thing as an ordinary woman.

Calendar Girls is at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Tuesday 26th March – 30th March

Tickets are on sale visit here for booking links and more information.