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Surrey celebs tell us what they love about Christmas in the county

PUBLISHED: 16:35 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:26 23 December 2016

Christmas in Guildford © Peter Trimming, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Christmas in Guildford © Peter Trimming, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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We caught up with some of the famous faces around our county to find out what they love most about Christmas in Surrey. From woodland walks to Christingle concerts and the cosiest pubs for a mulled wine, there’s certainly plenty to inspire...

Name: Brian Blessed

Occupation: Actor

Hometown: Richmond

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… enjoying a long, bracing walk with the dogs on Chobham Common, a rare lowland habitat known for its sightings of numerous protected species and its woodland walks, and especially if it’s snowing. The local countryside, around Guildford particularly, is just breath-taking. As for Christmas day itself, my wife and daughter always do the best Christmas Dinner imaginable! I also look forward to my usual round of ‘Father Christmas’ impersonations for TV and radio!

- Brian Blessed is honorary president of Guildford Shakespeare Company. Find out more about them at guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk

Brian Blessed (Photo Matt Pereira)Brian Blessed (Photo Matt Pereira)

Name: Virginia McKenna

Occupation: Actress and co-founder of The Born Free Foundation

Hometown: Near Dorking

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… seeing a lot of my family and sharing walks in the woods, and special meals and games – just being together. Also, for me, I treasure the Christingle service in our Coldharbour church and the Carol Service, which I love to take part in by doing one of the readings. It is also a time, of course, when children love the presents! As my grandchildren grow up, I sometimes try and give them something a little different. At Born Free, we have several gifts that I will choose – and I will be buying animal ‘adoptions’ for the older children, so they become interested in helping animals we have rescued, or some we help to protect in the wild. This year – the 50th anniversary of the film Born Free – has been especially busy with lots of travelling, and I look forward with joy to being at home in Surrey, looking at the distant North Downs and being with those I love.

- For more on the Born Free Foundation, see bornfree.org.uk

Virginia McKenna (Photo (c) Maria Slough Photography)Virginia McKenna (Photo (c) Maria Slough Photography)

Name: Nicholas Owen

Occupation: TV and radio presenter

Hometown: Reigate

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… enjoying a long, bracing walk in the Surrey countryside, ideally on Reigate Heath, which is always a beautiful place to explore at any time of year. As for Christmas day itself, to be honest, we often choose a nice restaurant for lunch on the big day – so no-one has to wash up, or worry beforehand. This year, we’ll be taking various children and some of our many grandchildren to Chez Vous at Warlingham, where the superb chef, Laurent, is an old friend. Also, some time over the holiday period, I try to pop along to the Children’s Trust in Tadworth to see the kids there. The work they do there is so impressive and a visit is always such a wonderful and uplifting experience.”

- Nicholas Owen is a vice president of The Children’s Trust. For more information on them, see thechildrenstrust.org.uk

Nicholas OwenNicholas Owen

Name: Peter Davison

Occupation: Actor

Hometown: Richmond

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is... walking off Christmas lunch with the whole family in the lovely surroundings of the nearby Richmond Park. As soon as the last of the Christmas pudding has been consumed, I head off with my wife, Elizabeth, and our two sons, Louis, 17, and Joel, 15, to work off a few festive calories. The atmosphere in the park is always very jovial on Christmas Day because visitors are in a good frame of mind and take the time to say hello to each other.

- Peter Davison’s autobiography, Is There Life Outside the Box?: An Actor Despairs, is out now in all good bookshops and at amazon.co.uk

Peter DavisonPeter Davison

Name: Laura Hamilton

Occupation: TV presenter, A Place in the Sun

Hometown: Purley

My favourite thing about Christmas is… As much as I love to travel, you can’t beat being at home at Christmas, and Surrey is just perfect for me. I love enjoying beautiful winter walks around the local countryside with my family. It’s also great looking at all the Christmas lights and stopping at a lovely country pub for a nice glass of wine in front of a log fire. I particularly like The White Hart in Chipstead and The Rambler’s Rest near Coulsdon. For the last few years, I’ve switched the Christmas lights on in Purley. I help out the local church group, get the crowd going and do the countdown to the switch-on!

- Check out Laura Hamilton’s travel recommendations at hamiltonshotspots.com – and a chance to win two return flights each month with Monarch Airlines

Laura Hamilton (Photo Andy Newbold)Laura Hamilton (Photo Andy Newbold)

Name: Tim Vine

Occupation: Comedian

Hometown: Banstead

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… I love Christmas in Surrey because it’s where I spent all my childhood Christmases. Snow in the garden; Granny coming to stay; a massive turkey; ridiculous over-excitement about the presents; Mike Yarwood on telly; old friends coming back into town… looking back it’s all so nostalgic. And what I’ve always loved most about Surrey is the fields and the trees and the general greenery. Somehow it feels slightly detached from the real world. The message for Christmas is peace, and Surrey was a very peaceful place to spend Christmas as a young boy. Every year, I try to rediscover that feeling.

- If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas, Tim Vine will be hosting the Comedy Night in aid of The Children’s Trust on Monday February 6 at the Comedy Store, London. See thechildrenstrust.org.uk

Tim Vine (Photo Andy Newbold)Tim Vine (Photo Andy Newbold)

Name: Bobby Davro

Occupation: Actor and comedian, and patron of Shooting Star Chase since 2003

Hometown: Oxshott

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… taking long walks in the Cobham Woods with my three daughters and going to the local pubs in the area. Surrey is a lovely place to be at Christmas and I feel very lucky to live here! Christmas for me is also about supporting those in need and that’s why I do what I can for the Surrey-based children’s hospice charity, Shooting Star Chase. I am proud to be their patron and have enjoyed performing and supporting the amazing work they do at the charity’s many brilliant events.

- For more on Shooting Star Chase, see their website at shootingstarchase.org.uk

Bobby Davro (Photo Andy Newbold)Bobby Davro (Photo Andy Newbold)

Name: Chesney Hawkes

Occupation: Singer/songwriter

Hometown: Chertsey

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… normally, I would say relaxing and spending time with my wife and three kids. This year, however, I will be a little busy as I’m playing Prince Charming at The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill! So it’s pretty hectic at the moment with learning the script and forthcoming rehearsals etc but I’m having the best fun and it really is a magical show! If I get a moment between rehearsals, I’ll be diving into the town to pick up a few Christmas presents for the kids and I’m also looking forward to checking out some of the lovely pubs in the Surrey countryside near here for a nice cosy Christmas drink!

- Cinderella runs at The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill from Friday December 9 until Saturday December 31. See harlequintheatre.co.uk

Chesney HawkesChesney Hawkes

Name: Phil Tufnell

Occupation: TV presenter

Hometown: Kingswood

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… everything! From the wonderful Christmas lights to the great local shopping and fantastic pubs with all their festive fare, there’s so much to enjoy in this part of the world. I’ll also be making time to pop into The Children’s Trust at Tadworth, where I am an ambassador, to see the kids there over the Christmas season. Finally, I’ve got another busy year coming up, so I’m looking forward to taking some time out with my wife Dawn and the family and to enjoying a rest and socialising with close friends, perhaps at my favourite local restaurants Galu in Nork and Spaghetti Tree in Walton on the Hill.

- Phil Tufnell is ambassador of The Children’s Trust at Tadworth. See thechildrenstrust.org.uk

Phil TufnellPhil Tufnell

Name: Axel Scheffler

Occupation: Illustrator of The Gruffalo

Hometown: Richmond

My favourite thing about Christmas in Surrey is… I’m happy that my daughter insisted on having Christmas in Richmond this year. My siblings will be coming over from Germany and there will be time for walks along the river and in the park. The autumn is usually a very busy time for me with events and signings and finishing another picture book (The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson) and it will be nice to have a few quiet days at Christmas. The Christmas lights create a festive atmosphere (little hope for snow though) - and I feel especially honoured as one of our characters (Zog) switched on the Christmas lights in Twickenham this year.

Axel Scheffler (Photo Liam Jackson)Axel Scheffler (Photo Liam Jackson)

Name: Nick Wallis

Occupation: TV presenter and reporter

Hometown: Walton-on-Thames

My favourite thing about Christmas is… the time it affords me to spend with my family. The kids love everything about it, from the Festival of Light, which paraded through Walton in late November, to the school Christmas Bazaar, nativity plays and the Christmas Eve service at St James church in Weybridge, which is always magical. Christmas Day itself is spent opening presents at home in the morning and then off to the in-laws for lunch. If we can, we’ll squeeze in a festive walk along the Thames before it gets dark. In the run-up to New Year, we like to go ice-skating at Hampton Court or visit RHS Wisley. I grew up in West Germany and still hanker after a proper white Christmas, but even without snow, Christmas in Surrey is hard to beat.

- Catch Nick Wallis on ITV News or The One Show on BBC One: http://bbc.in/2frdFRV

Get in touch! Let us know your own favourite things about Christmas in Surrey by joining us on Facebook and Twitter or e-mailing us at editorial@surreylife.co.uk

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