Spirit of Christmas comes to Fleet

Karen Neville


As the Christmas season gets underway, Fleet is preparing to wrap itself up in the magic of the season with three heartwarming events that capture the essence of Christmas

Get ready for the annual Fleet Christmas Festival on Wednesday, 22nd November, from 2pm to 9pm. Organised by a passionate team of volunteers, the festival transforms Fleet into a festive hub, boasting 120 market stalls lining Fleet Road.

From hot and cold culinary delights to unique gifts and decorations, the Christmas Market is a celebration of Christmas and the warmth of community connections. There will also be entertainers and rides as well as a giant snow globe where you can immerse yourself in a magical winter wonderland.

Gurkha Square becomes a stage for the town’s talents, featuring school choirs, community groups and the cast of the year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington. The switching on of the Christmas tree lights at 6.30pm marks a moment of shared joy and anticipation. The square also includes community stalls, celebrating the people who make a difference locally. Father Christmas will be in his grotto in The Harlington which will also host the Harlington Bazaar.

Hart Shopping Centre are hosting the Hart of Craft Christmas market where you can pick a unique or handmade gift, and also enjoy a free glass of wine and mince pie. The Shopping Centre is also host to Autism Friendly Fleet’s Chill Zone offering a quiet space to rest and chill.

Santa’s Post Office: Where wishes take flight

Santa’s Post Office returns to the Hart Shopping Centre, delivered by the Fleet Business Improvement District (BID) and funded by local businesses. This is a charming experience for adults and children alike and children can meet Santa’s elves and write their letters to Santa. It is a true community event with volunteers from Fleet Guides manning the Post Office, raising awareness of the great work they do.

Opening hours:

Wednesday 22nd November, 4pm to 7pm

Saturdays 25th November, 2nd, 9th and 16th December, 10am to 4pm

Sundays 26th November, 3rd, 10th, 17th December, 10am to 4pm

School holidays, Monday 18th – Friday 22nd Dec, 10am to 4pm

Snow Windows: Artistry in every corner

Building on last year’s success, the Fleet Business Improvement District has again commissioned Snow Windows to create unique Christmas artwork in Fleet. Shop windows throughout the town have been transformed into unique pieces of art, each personally designed by renowned artist Tom.

This unique street exhibition showcases the individuality of these local businesses, making a perfect Christmas trail for families to spot the details that make each artwork so special.

For anyone wanting to see the artist at work, Tom from Snow Windows will be decorating the window of 217 Menswear at 217 Fleet Road during the Fleet Christmas Festival on 22nd November.

Tracey Shrimpton, Fleet BID Manager said “Fleet puts on some amazing events throughout the year, and Christmas is a really special time in the town.

“The Fleet Christmas Festival is organised by a dedicated group of volunteers who work so hard every year to organise this event which attracts people from far and wide. Through the contributions of local businesses, the Fleet Business Improvement District is able to provide additional free entertainment including the magical experience of Santa’s Post Office and the awe-inspiring artwork of world-famous Snow Windows.

“We recognise that families may find the pressure to spend money stressful this Christmas and we are delighted that we can offer something very special for families to enjoy that they can do completely free of charge.

“We are so lucky to have such a fabulous range of committed small business owners who open their doors every day to offer customers unique services and products, with local staff to provide help and advice. The High Street is facing many challenges right now and our mission is to support businesses in Fleet with a number of activities to improve the trading environment and this is a great opportunity for people to show their support for local businesses which are the lifeblood of our community.”

Can you help local hygiene bank?

Karen Neville


Helena Vernon, Project Coordinator for Farnham and Aldershot Hygiene Bank needs your help to find a new storage location to continue helping people in need

At The Hygiene Bank, we believe it is not right that feeling clean should be a luxury or a privilege for anyone in our society, yet many are living in poverty and cannot afford to stay clean. That is why our network of projects exists – to give people access to the basics they need.

We are a grassroots, people-powered charity and social movement, grounded in community. Our passion stems from the injustice that people may be unable to fully participate in society due to hygiene poverty. This is why we work to inspire social change. 

What is hygiene poverty?

Many people locked in poverty or those who find themselves in times of crisis often experience restricted options. This leaves them caught between being able to heat their home, pay their rent, buy food or keep clean. Hygiene poverty can be shaming, humiliating and excluding and can result in social isolation.

It can lead to a lack of confidence and can negatively affect good health and mental well-being which can impact early childhood development, learning, employability and social interaction.

How we work:

Products are donated, collected, sorted and distributed to our network of community partners – a mix of organisations, charities and schools – who support those of us pulled into poverty.

Supporting The Hygiene Bank is a simple way to help not just one organisation, but multiple grassroots initiatives across the UK tackling a wide range of issues from poverty to domestic abuse and disability.

Our current problem:

We have, for some time, been using part of the garage of the Rev Crawley’s on the Upper Hale Road, Farnham as a store for our hygiene items. This arrangement has worked out very well and we’ve been very grateful for its use. However due to the Rev Crawley moving on, we have now been given notice to leave in January 2024. Without storage we will be unable to function and we are very worried for our future and for those hundreds of local families and individuals currently receiving our help. 

I visited a local storage facility recently and was quoted £34 per week for renting a 40ft unit and we just don’t have the funds to pay for this. We need a new location. Ideally, it needs to be local to the Farnham area, dry, ground floor, with vehicle access, and have electricity, but I will happily discuss any suggestions.

Please get in touch at [email protected]

Women’s walking football fun Fleet fundraiser

Ellie Cox


We’re all focused on football with the World Cup.. but closer to home, the Fleet of Foot team recently enjoyed a charity match in aid of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

Eleven women’s walking football teams from a 60-mile radius were invited to take part, including Bracknell, Great Wakering, Cheshunt, Arsenal, Portsmouth, and X Saints.

The home side, Fleet of Foot, entered two teams into the competition, and for some players it was their first experience of taking part in a tournament.

Some 26 games were played in total with match officials being supplied by the Fleet of Foot men’s walking football team.

“High quality football was enjoyed by players and spectators alike”

Ann Goddard tells us: “High quality football was enjoyed by players and spectators alike, with tough competition and a great team spirit being displayed by everyone. Congratulations to the overall winners, Bracknell Blues and the runners up, X Saints who just lost out to penalties in the final.”

Following the tournament, there was a buffet and prize giving where the teams socialised together and celebrated their efforts.

As well as enjoying the tournament, the players collectively raised £671.50 for Phyllis Tuckwell, making the event even more worthwhile.

Fleet of Foot women’s walking football was well supported by Everyone Active for this event at Hart.

Aimed primarily at the over-40s (but all ages are welcome), Fleet of Foot women’s walking football takes place on Thursdays, 7-8pm at Hart Everyone Active in Emerald Avenue, Fleet GU51 5HS. For more information or to arrange a free taster session, please email Sue on [email protected].

Free magical entertainment in Fleet

Karen Neville


Santa’s Post Office and Snow Windows herald the start of the festive season

The Fleet Business Improvement District has launched their family activities this Christmas. They are completely free and offer an amazing experience and are a great reason to visit the town.

The Fleet BID has commissioned Snow Windows to decorate 24 windows in the town. Each window has been personally designed by artist Tom and features elements particular to that business. Each window is a unique piece of art and both children and adults will enjoy being able to visit the windows and spot the details that make each artwork so special.

Santa’s Post Office also makes a welcome return to Fleet launching in Hart Shopping Centre at the Fleet Christmas Festival on November 23rd. Families can visit the enchanting Post Office to meet the Christmas elves and write their letter to Santa. Children can post their letters in the special Post Box and watch its magical journey to Lapland. Even better this is completely free.

One delighted parent, who visited in previous years said: “We went in today with my two kids and they loved it! Both my husband and I were so impressed and felt incredibly lucky to have something so special in Fleet. A real testament to a wonderful community. A massive thank you to Fleet BID for putting something so special together that local families can enjoy!”

Volunteers from Fleet Guide are manning the Post Office, helping them to raise awareness of the great work they do in our local community.

Tracey Shrimpton, Fleet BID Manager said: “We are very excited to bring these free actives to Fleet this Christmas. Santa’s Post Office is a magical experience and Snow Windows have worked with companies such as Harvey Nichols and celebrities including Jamie Oliver, Kirstie Allsopp and Chris Moyles so we’re extremely lucky to have been able to bring them to Fleet.

“We recognise that families may find the pressure to spend money stressful this Christmas and we’re delighted that we can offer something very special for families to enjoy that they can do completely free of charge.

“We are lucky to have such a fabulous range of committed small business owners who open their doors every day to offer customers unique services and products, with local staff to provide help and advice. The High Street is facing many challenges right now and our mission is to support businesses in Fleet with a number of activities to improve the trading environment and this is a great opportunity for people to show their support for local businesses which are the lifeblood of our community.”

In addition to Fleet BID’s activities a committed team of volunteers are organising the annual Fleet Christmas Festival taking place on Wednesday 23rd November from 2pm to 9pm with over 130 market stalls, family entertainment, choirs and Christmas songs, Vegan Village, community stalls, Hart of Craft market in the Shopping centre, Santa’s Grotto in The Harlington, Autism Friendly Fleet Chill Zone in the shopping centre and the Christmas Lights switch on at 6.30pm. The Festival Committee have also organised a Christmas Trail which runs until December 9th with prizes to be won.

Gemma Hardy offers mental health advice

Liz Nicholls


The term ‘mental health’ has recently become something of a buzzword. Worries of how the pandemic is affecting our mental health are discussed daily in the news, on social media and in our social circles.

It’s encouraging that a topic, which is usually considered taboo, is being given so much airtime, however, do we really know what mental health is?

Interestingly, there is no finite definition of mental health. The World Health Organisation suggests it is: ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

The language surrounding mental health is often misused and terms such as mental health and mental illness get confused despite being very different. The truth is, just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health too. We know the importance of looking after our physical health and it’s no different from our mental health.

With last year’s constant changes and uncertainty, some of us may be feeling stressed, overwhelmed or deflated. As lockdown restrictions are eased, how can we adapt to our ‘new normal’ whilst keeping mentally healthy?

Try our top three tips:


It’s much easier to live in a state of harmony when you accept the things that are out of your control. You can’t change the actions of others, predict if there will be another lockdown or change how people respond to rules. So, accept the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can control.

Practise gratitude

People who regularly practise gratitude feel more positive emotions, have improved sleep, and express more compassion and kindness. Take time to notice the small things around you, like a beautiful blue sky, a delicious lunch or time to dive into a new book.

Exciting opportunities

The plus side of uncertainty is you never know what’s around the corner. Could it be the pandemic has forced you to make changes that will actually enhance your life? With a positive mindset, you can look at change as a new chapter filled with new goals and successes to celebrate.

Take action and invest in your mental health today!

Hardy Training Company works with businesses and schools to create mentally healthy workplaces, by providing internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid training courses.

If you, or your organisation, would like further information please visit hardytrainingcompany.co.uk

Share your local stories with us here