Surrey news and views - your letters - June 2014

PUBLISHED: 09:30 03 June 2014

Surrey Life magazine June 2014

Surrey Life magazine June 2014


Win a meal for two at one of Surrey’s top pubs by sharing your news and views with Surrey Life magazine

IF you’d like to see your letter printed in Surrey Life, write to us at the usual address, e-mail, comment at the end of this piece or join our community on Facebook and Twitter. Every month, the writer of our star letter wins a three-course dinner for two at the William Bray pub in Shere. The prize is available Monday to Thursday, subject to availability, and booking is required. For more information on the William Bray, call 01483 202044 or pay a visit to their website at



The mystery deepens

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the letter on the secret tunnels in your April edition as I know quite a lot about the tunnels under Reigate Hill.

In the early 1950s, I was a part-time youth leader at Merstham Youth Centre responsible for outdoor activities including the DOE award.

As part of my day job, however, with the Ordnance Survey, I was surveying the chalk quarry behind the Yew Tree pub on Reigate Hill. Halfway up the quarry on a spoil heap were two old Nissen huts, still covered with the remains of camouflage netting. I thought that with a bit of effort they would make an ideal base for our weekend adventure activities.

The War Department had already de-requisitioned them but the current owner was delighted to give me permission to use them, providing we helped her by felling her unwanted trees; a small price to pay. As we started work to make the huts habitable, we managed to undo a mysterious door in the face of the quarry. To our surprise, it led into a huge network of tunnels under the quarry.

There were three substantial tunnels lined with corrugated metal, one behind the other, each at least one hundred yards long. The electrical wiring was still intact, as was the air conditioning trunking. Sections were partitioned as offices. It was a secret bombproof and gas proof military establishment that nobody knew anything about.

My enquiries as to its use were declined as the information was classified at the time. However, we were told by the War Department that we could use any material in the tunnels that was useful. As indeed it was. The youngsters did most of the work on the huts themselves, setting up their own weekend adventure base. The face of the quarry was cleared for abseiling, rope walks were built in the trees, 
giant swings and slides were established and many kids were involved in a huge range of activities. But that is another story.

My work there continued until 1959 when I took up my post as warden of the YMCA National Centre in the Lake District, my first full-time job in the Youth Service. Since then, I have learned that the tunnels were probably dug in the early years of the war as a decoding base. But I think that they still keep their secrets.

Best wishes,

Ted Curtis,


Editor’s note: Dear Ted, thank you so much for getting in touch; what an absolutely fascinating letter! Living in the shadow of Reigate Hill myself, I have been particularly captivated by your story, as I know the National Trust will be too, and no doubt many readers. For that, we are making you this month’s star letter, meaning you win a well-deserved dinner for two at The William Bray in Shere. We hope that you enjoy! All the best, Caroline 
P.S. For anyone wanting to learn more about the story so far regarding the tunnels, click here.


Call of the wild

Dear Surrey Life readers,

Love animals? Want to ‘do your bit’ for wildlife and the environment? Do you have a few hours spare each week that you could offer to a worthy cause?

Well, our animal rescue charity, the Wildlife Aid Foundation, is facing its busiest few months of the year – and is desperately short of volunteer helpers.

Based in Leatherhead, we rely on members of the local community giving their time and commitment free of charge to keep our wildlife rescue service and veterinary hospital operating ‘24/7’. Altogether there are almost 300 volunteers at the Wildlife Aid Foundation but with so many wildlife casualties coming in, the charity is severely overstretched.

There are currently vacancies for volunteers in animal care (including cleaning and feeding the animal patients in the hospital), office administration, and also some openings for volunteer trainee veterinary nurses. Full training is provided.

If you are interested in becoming a Wildlife Aid Foundation volunteer, please contact us on 01372 377332 to discuss the current opportunities (please note that volunteers must be over 16).

Best wishes,

From the

Wildlife Aid Foundation, Leatherhead


Poppies with extra pride

Dear Editor,

We are hoping you can help our call for runners to raise sponsorship for The Poppy Factory’s work by taking part in the Richmond Running Festival ( on Sunday September 21, 2014. With half-marathon and 10K courses, commencing in Kew Gardens and finishing in Richmond Old Deer Park, this great Surrey event also has live music, food stalls and games.

The Poppy Factory ( was founded in 1922 specifically to provide work for disabled veterans returning from WW1. 
We remain proud to continue this work today, and since 2010 have created a specialist employability scheme, Getting You Back to Work, which is our main activity, helping wounded, injured and sick ex-Service men and women find meaningful and sustainable employment nationwide.

Any Surrey Life reader interested in running in aid of The Poppy Factory, please drop us a line by calling 0208 939 1861, e-mailing or contacting us via our website at

Best wishes,

Liz George,

The Poppy Factory, Richmond


The hills are alive

Dear Editor,

Readers may be interested to know that an internationally-acclaimed youth choir from Wales, the Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers, will be performing in a joint concert in Woking with local community choirs Elmbridge Choir and Elmbridge Ladies Choir.

As well as a diverse programme of songs from all three choirs, the young Welsh singers (aged from eight to 16) will be paying a tribute to the centenary of World War One, bringing to life favourite songs from the era. Their tribute is being performed in leading UK venues this year – including the Royal Albert Hall – so we are privileged to enjoy it in Woking.

Entitled Spirit of Song, the concert is on Saturday June 7 at the HG Wells Centre. For more information and tickets, visit

Debbie Groves,

Surrey Community Music Society


Bring a bottle

Dear Surrey Life,

Can you help? The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice is in urgent need of bottles for tombola stalls.

If you visit one of the many summer fetes that will be held over the next few months, you may well come across a Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice stall. The fund-raising team at the hospice are out and about, working 
hard to raise as much money and awareness as they can for this vitally important local charity.

Many of the stalls that the hospice will be running will include tombolas, and so the fund-raising team are keen to take as many donations of unwanted, unopened bottles as possible. From wines and spirits, to soft drinks, body lotions and even bubble bath – if it’s in a bottle then the team would be happy to receive it!

If you have any spare, unopened that you would be willing to donate, please do bring them along to the hospice, on Waverley Lane in South Farnham, or drop them into one of the Hospice’s local shops.

For more information, call 01252 729446, send an e-mail to us at or visit our website at

Jen Barnes,

Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Farnham


Dishing the dirt...

Dear Editor,

I am writing to let readers know about a very exciting new show on ITV called Who’s Doing the Dishes? In short, we are looking for people in Surrey who enjoy dinner parties and celebrities to take part! The show involves four members of the public going round to a celebrity’s place for dinner; the twist is that you have to guess the identity of the celebrity from the clues you are given. If you are interested, please e-mail

Many Thanks,

Jennifer Garton,

Researcher, ITV Studios

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