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.”


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.

We are recruiting for a Surrey Hills Care Farm Coordinator




Job title Surrey Hills Care Farm Coordinator
Reporting to (post) Chair, Surrey Hills Society
Hours of work 3 days a week (22.5 hours), flexible working by agreement. Some evening/weekend working required.
Located at Mainly home working with easy access to sites across East Surrey.
Salary Actual £18,000 (£30k pro rata)

About the Surrey Hills Society: The Surrey Hills Society is an independent charity promoting the positive enjoyment and conservation of the Surrey Hills National Landscape for those who live, work in, or visit the area. The Society encourages people to explore and learn about the special qualities and distinctiveness of the area through walks, talks, events, practical conservation, and volunteering.

The Role:
An 18-month employment contract with the Surrey Hills Society (reviewed after a probationary period of 3 months) to oversee the coordination of the Care Farm pilot project in East Surrey.

About the project:
Care farming refers to the therapeutic use of farming practices. There are many different models for how a care farm may operate and these are as diverse as the people that they support. One thing all care farms have is common is providing a supervised, structured programme of farm-related activity for people with a defined need. Care is bespoke, person-centred and focused on the individual. Care farming activity has a real purpose behind it where people are able to make a meaningful contribution to the running of a farm.

The Surrey Hills Society, in partnership with the Surrey Hills team and Growing Health Together have been awarded a grant to initiate a pilot of nature-based health interventions on farms in East Surrey. These can support the mental health of people from all ages and backgrounds with Surrey Heartlands’ priority communities as the focus. The approach will be tailored to the local beneficiaries and hosts, while adapting the model in response to real time learning. Our plan is deliberately open and will evolve according to local needs and circumstances, initially using a small number of farms. Once a successful model has been established the ambition is to develop this into a wider programme to support health outcomes and help diversify farm incomes across Surrey.

We are also looking to develop a particular arts component to this initiative, recognising the significant additional benefits to mental wellbeing of engagement in the creative arts, particularly for groups who have historically been underserved by traditional services.

The proposed care farm initiative responds to unmet need that cannot be met through traditional services and would engage those who are currently struggling to access holistic support for their mental wellbeing. The provision would be novel for the NHS, social care, and social prescribing in Surrey and will, additionally, offer educational opportunities.

The role will involve developing, managing, and promoting a varied programme of group activities and events on working, commercial tenant farms to support farm incomes and people who are socially isolated and are experiencing mental health issues in East Surrey.

Being part of a small charity, you will need to be a self-starter and work closely with the Growing Health Together and the Surrey Hills National Landscape Teams.

You will work to coordinate referral programmes and help evaluate the impact of the project.

For full job description, to download an application form and to apply for the job, please click here

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


Titsey Place visit on 30 August 2023

Many thanks to Sall Baring and Ray Jessop for sharing your photographs of the beautiful gardens at Titsey Place.














Our visit to Godstone Caves


10 am Saturday morning July 29th 2023 saw 9 SHS members gathered in a wood near Godstone, eager to be taken down into Godstone Caves.

The members were being escorted by enthusiastic leaders from the Wealden Cave & Mine Society for what turned out to be a memorable excursion underground.


This was not about walking into a nicely prepared, well-lit set of chambers. This event, unlike any other on the Society’s list, was about getting down on all fours, crawling through narrow tunnels, clambering over rock falls and spending much time stooped below low ceilings.

The caves – or more properly, a mine- which date from ancient times were worked up to the end of the 19th century for the extraction of Firestone and Reigate Hearthstone, some of the latter being used at the Tower of London.

Evidence of all this past industrial activity is all around, as are the extensive remnants of mushroom beds which were extensively worked in later years. Abandoned rail and cart tracks are seen throughout.

The leader of the trip- Che – was knowledgeable and kept us informed throughout the two hours underground. We emerged at 12.30 to warm sunshine and refreshments provided by Stella.

Our grateful thanks to the Wealden Cave and Mine Society members who gave their time so generously. This was a visit for the physically fit but I do hope we can return for another visit before too long.

Stella Cantor