Growing Together: Inclusion and Conservation in the Surrey Hills




Our Surrey Hills needs everyone’s help to keep it special for the future 24 April 2024.


We are thrilled to announce we have received a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund of just under £145,000 for our project ‘Growing Together: Inclusion and Conservation in the Surrey Hills’. A big thank you to all National Lottery players for helping to make this happen.

The core objective of ‘Growing Together’ is to establish a legacy into the future for inclusive environmental conservation. The Society is employing a dedicated project officer, who will seek out, encourage and nurture a diverse community of environmental champions to actively participate in conservation projects. We are committed to engaging with the community and believe that everyone should have a chance to learn about, care for and preserve our special Surrey Hills National Landscape for the future.

In 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act stated that protected landscapes should be preserved as spaces for physical and mental wellbeing for all. However, a 2023 survey of green volunteering opportunities for disabled people in Surrey concluded that they face significant barriers to being able to participate in activities. Our project is a proactive step towards bridging these gaps.

Gordon Jackson, Chairman of the Society says:
“Over the last couple of years, The Society has developed an extensive programme of local conservation and countryside activities, aiming to inspire people of all abilities and backgrounds to learn about the environment and help to conserve our varied habitats. ‘Growing Together’ is a natural extension of this work and we are delighted, thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players, to be able to work alongside our new partners to promote accessiblecountryside pursuits and to increase confidence in being outdoors.”


We already work closely with a number of charitable organisations in the sector. Representative from Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum, Surrey Coalition of Disabled People and Surrey Choices have made the following statement:

“We are delighted to be partners in a project that holds inclusion at its very core. ‘Growing Together’ will provide important opportunities for those who traditionally face barriers when accessing the countryside. We believe this project will help the people we support to enjoy new experiences, learn new skills, build relationships and connect with the heritage of the Surrey Hills National Landscape.”

The project will run for 18 months and will be monitored for success by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Thousand Year Tree – Book Endpapers Design Competition!


Surrey is home to some of our nation’s oldest trees – many are over one thousand years old! To celebrate these trees, we are creating a special Children’s Book with children’s author Lucy Reynolds, children’s illustrator Katie Hickey, and a group of budding book creators from a local primary school.

You also have the chance to be part of this exciting project! We are asking children all across Surrey to help us design the endpapers that will go inside the cover of the book. Read on to find out more about how to be involved…



What is this competition?

We are running a children’s design competition to help create the endpapers for The Thousand Year Tree children’s book, which is being created to celebrate Surrey’s ancient trees.

This book will be distributed to schools and libraries in Surrey and is being developed as a creative collaboration between Lucy Reynolds, author; Katie Hickey, illustrator; the Surrey Hills Society; the Guildford Book Festival; Surrey County Council; and Weyfield Primary Academy, Guildford.

What are endpapers?

Endpapers are the pages that are glued inside the front and back covers of a book. These are often beautifully designed and are a very important part of the overall look and feel of a book.

Here are some examples:








Who can take part in the competition?

Any child living in Surrey aged between 4 and 11.

Are there any age categories?

There are two age categories for the competition:
● Key Stage 1 (age 4 to 6)
● Key Stage 2 (age 7 to 11)

What is the competition brief?

We would like you to design the endpapers for The Thousand Year Tree children’s book.

You can use any medium you wish – paint, pencils, chalk, oils, pastels

You can include textures from nature if you wish, such as rubbings or collage.

We will be looking for designs that are:

● Botanical
● Beautiful
● Informative
● Themed around trees
● Themed around nature
● Themed around the passing of time or seasons

When is the deadline?

Wednesday 4th September 2024

How do I apply?

● Collect an application form from your local library or download here

● Create your design using the template, keeping within the border
● Add your name, age and contact details to the form
● Return your completed application to your local library in Surrey.

What is the prize?

We will have a first, second and third prize for each age group. Prizes include book bundles and bookshop tokens.

The overall winner of the competition will have their design printed within the endpapers of The Thousand Year Tree book.

How will I know if I have won?

Please ensure that you have provided a grown ups’ email for each application. Winners and runners up will be notified by email by the middle of October. If you haven’t heard from us by then, please do assume that you have not been lucky this time, but thank you very much for taking part!

Will I get my design back?

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to return competition entries. If your design is very precious to you, please do photocopy it before you submit it.

Who do I contact for help?

For any questions, please contact  For full competition terms and conditions, please click here

Surrey Hills Society secures grant for East Surrey Care Farm Pilot


The Surrey Hills Society is delighted to have received a grant from the Mental Health Investment Fund (MHIF) a joint fund from Surrey Heartlands and Surrey County Council to implement an East Surrey Care Farm Pilot Project. This funding will enable the implementation of the care farming programme, an initiative aimed at enhancing mental well-being through visits to farms.

In collaboration with Growing Health Together and the Surrey Hills National Landscape, the Surrey Hills Society has appointed Katie Daws as the Project Officer. Katie will work closely with local farmers to orchestrate farm visits designed to promote therapeutic care for individuals facing physical, mental, and emotional challenges. This not only includes farming activities, but also nurturing the special relationship that artistic activities can bring during visits to the farms.

Katie Daws, Project Officer for the East Surrey Care Farm Project said.

“This project is a unique opportunity to develop a new, supportive environment on local farms. I have seen from my previous experiences on farms supporting vulnerable people with mental health needs that the impact goes beyond a sense of comfort for the participants. The positive impact extends to the farmers in regard to their well-being and a new source of income.”

These sessions are tailored to support the mental health of people across all ages and backgrounds. The project recognises the profound benefits of connecting with nature and farming practices, particularly for groups that have historically been underserved by conventional services. It seeks to engage individuals currently struggling to access holistic support for their mental well-being, offering a new approach for mental health and social prescribing in Surrey.

Dr Gillian Orrow, GP, Co-founder and Director of Growing Health Together said.

“I am excited for the launch of the Care Farm Pilot in East Surrey, which will offer children, young people and adults with a range of health and care support needs, opportunities to connect with nature and animals on local working farms. The initiative responds to calls from our patients and their families for a more diversified local offer to support mental health and wellbeing, one that centres nature connection and the active role people can play in their own recovery. I am excited to see the impact this project will bring”.

This grant marks a significant milestone in the Surrey Hills Society’s commitment to fostering improved well-being through connection to nature.

Rob Fairbanks, Director of the Surrey Hills National Landscape said.

“Farmers in Surrey are the custodians of our countryside, helping to maintain our landscape, provide food and create space for nature. This project is to pilot the health benefits for some of the most vulnerable members of society through therapeutic contact with farm animals. We are so grateful for the funding from Surrey County Council for our Surrey Hills Society to pilot this approach. It is an opportunity to evidence the impact so that we can work with the farming community and partners to extend the programme in future years.”


Girl Guides receive Surrey Hills Hedgerow Badge


Last weekend 6th Woking Rangers, Guides and Brownies along with parents joined forces with Surrey Hills Society to plant 1800 plants in a new mixed native hedgerow for farmer Jim, in the Surrey Hills.


‘What an incredible experience, a great Sunday morning out in the fresh air, amazing to be part of something that will be there for years to come’.

‘Lots of happy faces, with a very well organised event, we achieved more that we thought’.

The feedback from the girls and parents who felt such pride and a phenomenal sense of success , with the girls buzzing from the experience.

Hedgerows are such an important part of our ecosystems and to be able to volunteer a Sunday morning to such an important activity: increasing connectivity for wildlife; providing a future home and assisting with carbon capture are all so vital.


GirlGuiding World Thinking Day for Girl Guides and Scouts around the world is the 22nd February, our founders birthday. It is a time to think about each other as a world movement and the important issues we all face. The theme this year is ‘Our World, Our Thriving Future.’


At 6th Woking we had a extremely incredible experience learning what we can do to build a better future along with understanding what we can do in support and be part of a better environmentally sustainable world by taking small steps but very important ones for our planet.

We are enormously indebted to Surrey Hills for giving us this opportunity and we would highly recommend whatever age you are to support local communities and farmers to take these small steps for a better future for us all.

‘A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her’.


Article written by 6th Woking Leader – Julie Laidlaw.

Surrey Hills Society lead – Christa Emmett, Project and Volunteer Coordinator

My Green Future – Environmental Volunteering Programme for 18-24 year olds


My Green Future
Environmental Volunteering Programme for
18-24 year olds
20th February 2024, 10:00 – 16:00



In collaboration with Surrey Wildlife Trust, National Trust and Surrey County Council, the Society is delivering an exciting new pilot project, called My Green Future.

Open to 18-24 year olds, My Green Future is a 12-week environmental volunteering programme, designed to equip participants with a variety of essential practical skills and experience.

My Green Future is a fun and informative 1-day a week programme where participants will find out what it’s like volunteering for Surrey Wildlife Trust, Surrey Hills Society, National Trust, and Surrey County Council.

At various locations across Surrey, participants will learn practical conservation skills, how to safely use tools, habitat management techniques, wildlife identification skills, and much more!

No prior experience is necessary as the programme will develop skills,education and training.

For full details please click here to see the attached flyer including eligibility criteria and details of how to register interest.

Glass Fusion workshop


Yesterday, Surrey based Mark Laird of Hazelhouse Jewellery, came to West Horsley Village Hall to tell us all about glass fusion and give us the chance to make two pieces to take home.


Well, what an interesting talk and demonstration!  Now for the exciting bit.

Once we had decided on our design, we chose our colours from a table full of jars and pots of crushed glass which we learnt is called frit.  Back to our benches to use a glassline pen to outline our design or a stringer, which is a thin ‘spagetti like’ piece of glass for straight lines.  Frit is used for the main body of the design and we also had the option of using larger beads of glass, again in a variety of colours.


Some of us made a wave and others decorated glass to ultimately become tealights after firing.



3 hours later, Mark packed up our afternoon’s work and took them back to his kilns to be fired. The two pictures below show everyone’s work ready to go in the kiln.

Now we have to wait for a week to see the result.







One our of guests, Carolyn wrote to us this morning and said:

“What an absorbing and enjoyable afternoon under Mark’s expert guidance at the glass fusion workshop! Everyone was really friendly, the tea and cakes were delicious and, for me, the best part was seeing the huge variety of designs people came up with. I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished pieces after firing. Thanks for a great event. Cheers Carolyn”

I think we can safely say that everyone had a wonderful afternoon and as this event was such a success, we will try and organise another workshop for next year.

The Surrey Hills Society visit Farnham for their AGM

What a treat we were in for, with the 2023 AGM of the Surrey Hills Society being held in Farnham in the far west of the County.

Quite a few of our members said they had never been to Farnham before and were quite amazed at what a vibrant and interesting place it was.

We were welcomed by the Mayor, Cllr Alan Earwaker, while Iain Lynch, the Farnham Town Clerk gave an interesting talk on the famous people associated with Farnham including English radical, journalist and politician, William Cobbett (1763 – 1835), who is well known in Surrey for his book “Rural Rides”.

Other famous residents included, rugby player, Jonny Wilkinson CBE (1974 – ), car and motorbike racer, Mike Hawthorn (1929- 1959) and John Henry Knight (1847- 1917), who is believed to have designed the first ever petrol car driven on a roads.

There are too many to all mention here but included Charles Ernest Borelli (1813-1950) who was clock maker to Royalty, author Jonathon Swift, and Augustus Montague Toplady (1740 – 1778) – cleric and author of the hymn, ‘Rock of Ages’.

The Town Clerk also highlighted that Farnham was awarded UNESCO Craft Town in recent years, in recognition of its long creative history, which included famous Victorian potter, Absolom Harris (1837 – 1927). Well known for his green owls and other pottery glazed, in a particular deep green colour, it is known as ‘Farnham Greenware’.


To bring us up to current times, Farnham is, these days very proud to have Prof Magdalena Odundo OBE (1950 – ) as their Vice Chancellor of the University of the Creative Arts based in Farnham. She is an internationally renowned ceramicist and her work has fetched the highest price for any living ceramists in the world to date.

The event was held at the historic Bush Hotel in central Farnham. An old coaching inn, it has recently been refurbished and provided the most wonderful buffet lunch for our members- probably our best AGM lunch ever! To take a closer look at

After lunch we were treated to tour of this charming Georgian town by Farnham Town Guides. Even our Coordinator and local resident, Lesley Crofts said she learnt some new facts about her town. There is lots more information about this surprising town on the Town Council website at


Many have fed back that this was the best AGM they have been to and Farnham was definitely a delightful surprise. A huge thank you to Farnham Town Council for hosting us and giving us such a welcome.

What a brilliant Council! What a wonderful town! Seems to be something going on every week, including this month which is Craft Month. See for more details.






Chris Howard, President Surrey Hills Society