2023 Newsletter

What’s happened at Woodlarks this year?

Message from Woodlarks

“We at The Woodlarks Centre (TWC) would like to thank everyone who supported us this year.  In 2023, TWC have strived to provide the highest quality care, and your contributions have helped us immensely. Whether you have donated, fundraised, volunteered or attended events, we thank you. Your continuing support allows us to achieve our goals and create a home for our residents.”

Themed Days

We have had many events we invited everyone to this year, such as a carnival-themed day or the king’s coronation. Through the year, Woodlarks hosted many different themed days based on holidays or events. This year, we have been able to get one step closer to how life used to at TWC before COVID-19, and we hope in 2024, we can get all our residents back out and more friends and families visiting TWC.

Leading up to and during Easter, our activity centre planned and carried out multiple activities with our residents. Many of our residents got to make the easter bonnets that they wore around the house and even had a parade on Easter Sunday. They made chocolate rice crispy cake with mini eggs on top to look like a nest. The residents got to take turns mixing and placing the mixture into the cupcake trays. They did small craft projects such as creating rabbits out of paper-mâché and colouring/pain

ting flowers, bumblebees or butterflies. We decorated our display board. The activity centre used many recyclable items, such as egg cartons or toilet rolls, to make crafts. Thanks to our catering team, our residents each got an easter eggs to eat on Easter Sunday.  Thank you to Jules for coming in over the easter weekend and handing out easter eggs.

On the 8th of May, we held a coronation party which all family and friends were invited to. In preparation for the party, our activity centre brought decorations and created activity packs that the residents could do before the party started. A performer came in at 11 am and while the residents ate their brunch, he played for them. Everyone enjoyed this, especially songs they could participate in. The Coronation party started at 2 pm. We had many family and friends who came along to share the celebration. Luckily, we had lovely weather, so some of our guests sat outside on the patio to have a bit of fresh air. Shortly after everyone arrived, our second performer of the day came in and played many classic songs that many of our residents sang along and danced to. After the performers had finished, we opened the buffet, residents and families could go up and help themselves to the wonderful array of food with some quiet music in the background so that people could chat with one another.

On the 10th of June 2023, we held a carnival-themed day at the TWC Centre. We started the event at 2 pm and welcomed the guests into the building. Everyone gathered in the dining room and back patio to sit with their families and enjoy the lovely weather we were fortunate to have a day full of sun. Our catering team sold cold soft drinks for people to enjoy and provided some Pimm’s, which was very popular.

In the day centre, stalls such as lucky dip, badge making, and the raffle were very popular among all age groups.  The centre also had a craft shop where you could donate any amount to buy an item made by residents/staff. We had food cooked at 3 pm by one of our activity staff partners. So many thanks to him for all his help. He cooked us some burgers and hot dogs on the BBQ. While everyone ate, a steel drum performer played live in the background so people could tap their feet.

On the 4th of July, we held an America-themed day. We decorated our dining room with American flags, and our day Centre made headbands for both residents and staff to wear. One of our staff members cooked a BBQ outside while the residents got seated at their tables and got their orders taken.

While the residents ate, we played country music and enjoyed singing songs such as Country Roads. All the staff joined in on the fun, encouraging some shy residents to do the same.

TWC hosted a Halloween disco on the 28th of October. Our activity coordinators arranged for a DJ to come in and host an hour-and-a-half session with music and lights in our day centre. The DJ played many of the residents’ favourites, which they could sing and dance along to. Both residents and staff dressed up for the disco, and the activity staff prepared spare costumes for anyone who did not bring one in. After the disco, the day centre staff handed out gift bags, which they prepared for all the residents and set up the dining room with spooky decorations.

Activities within TWC:

Aside from themed days throughout 2023, TWC arranged for different activities to take place. This year, we have had many outside companies come to TWC to teach residents new skills or to put on performances for residents to watch. A quick summary of the activity days is below:

On the 24th of May, we had birds of prey come in to teach the residents and let them hold some of them. They spent the morning bringing in various types of birds, especially owls, which they would give a general description of their habitats and behaviours in the wild.

On the 7th of June, we had an artist come in to teach and guide our residents with their painting skills. The day’s theme was flowers and how to incorporate them into art. Many residents tried painting still-life pictures of some of the bouquets brought in by our activity staff and the painter. Another type of art we explored was flower painting. Flower painting is where you dip the flowers into paint and press the flower head down onto your piece of paper, leaving a colourful outline of the flower. After all the pictures dried, we put them up in our dining room to make a gallery wall.

On the 14th of June, we had Zoolab come in to teach us about different types of bugs/reptiles. We had a wide range of bugs and reptiles from around the world: African Snails, Rainforest Hissing Cockroaches, Curly Hair Tarantula, Millipede, Albino Gecko and Corn Snake. Most of the residents were open to holding the animals; however, a few of the animals got mixed responses, especially the cockroach and tarantula. However, overall, it was a very informative session where we got to ask any questions, we were curious about and see some animals we may have never seen up close before. We hope to do another session like this again with even more diverse animals.

On the 26th of July, TWC held its first-ever Woodlarks Got Talent in the dining room. There were 13 acts, including 3 staff members, 13 residents and 1 family member. Acts included residents singing, dancing and telling jokes throughout the afternoon. The show started with a duet between one of our staff and a resident. They were nervous during the first act, but their energy and excitement set a good mood for the afternoon and comforted those less confident. The afternoon ended with an open mic act for any resident who did not sign up initially to come forward if they wanted to perform.

On the 7th of October, we held a Macmillan coffee morning to raise money for cancer support. Our admin worked with the activity team to invite family and friends and to prepare cakes to sell. We decided it would be best to say if you donate any amount, you can have a cake instead of setting prices for the cakes. The morning went well, especially since we decided to host it on our usual coffee mornings (the first Saturday of each month). In total, we raised £151.70 for Macmillan’s cancer support, so thank you to all those who came and donated.

Many musical acts came to TWC this year and performed for our residents. Activities were arranged for a regular performer who came once every 1-2 months. Still, we also branched out this year with acts from Rough Ditch folk (a 3-man folk band composed of string instruments), Morris dancers, an Elvis impersonator and a family choir.


Activities Outside TWC:

In 2023, we also participated in activities arranged by those outside TWC and got our residents going out more as COVID restrictions have been lifted.

Earlier this year, in February, our activity team worked with the care team to arrange a day out for some residents. They took the residents for a morning around Farnham Park, where they could relax and enjoy some fresh air. After the morning at the park, they headed to Farnham Golf Club for lunch. The activity team also organised some pub visits for the residents in the spring, where they could go out and have lunch in a fresh environment. The teams ensured that we were taking a different roster of residents each time so that everyone had a chance to go out.

In April, some of our residents signed up again for sailability at Frensham Pond. Once a week, those residents go out in the morning to do some sailing. This was a very popular activity last year, and we at TWC hope the residents can get the most out of sailability again next year.

On the 25th of April, TWC participated in a Quiz night hosted by the Rotary Club. There were 11 teams of 4, and we had 3 residents and a family friend representing TWC. The quiz night had 5 rounds in total, with a meal of Chilli & Rice handed out after round 2. Throughout the night, there were nachos and dips on the tables for everyone to snack on. A big thanks to our catering team for preparing chilli and rice for supper. The games were close, with TWC only being 7 points behind 2nd to last.

On the 13th Of September, our activity centre took a group of our residents out for lunch at the Rural life centre. The Rural Life Centre is an open-air museum in Farnham with many historical buildings that contain items that would have been commonly found in them back in the day. A section one of our residents particularly liked is Madge’s wagon shed, where you can see various artefacts used to grow hops. Another section they enjoyed was the different types of old vehicles. A simpler exhibit that was particularly interesting was a wall of different types of shop fronts named after real shops that existed in the past. The residents could investigate the shop windows and see different displays of what each shop sold and how much it would have cost.


On April 29th, TWC had a stall at the Rotary Farnham Duck race. Leading up to the duck race, the activity centre staff had prepared arts and crafts for the residents to complete that would eventually get sold. A big thank you goes to the staff and friends who donated items to sell and helped us transport the stock to the duck race. We were lucky to have a full day of sunshine, and many people came to our stall to buy the residents’ arts and crafts and to enquire about TWC. At the peak of the day, 2 of our staff members (Nikki and Millie, who were helping run the stool) got to throw the ducks into the river. The Speaker promoted our charity as they announced our charity name before the staff put the ducks into the river.

In September the Rotary Club of Farnham held its Annual ‘Farnham Marathon’. The Farnham Rotary Club organises the event and gave TWC the opportunity to open a stall at the finish line to sell cold soft drinks and BBQ goods such as bacon rolls and cakes. Many runners came to our stall after getting some water to buy something for themselves or their families. The weather was on our side as it was sunny most of the day, and we only had a light shower towards the end of the event. The day was very successful, and congratulations to all the runners who participated.

One of our activity Co-Ordinators recently saw a leaflet for an open call for art submissions for the Newhouse in Guilford. The theme of the exhibition was ‘in dreams. We spoke about the exhibition with our residents, and some of them said they would like to participate. They spent a couple of weeks deciding what they would like to submit for the exhibition, with a wide range of art forms being completed, such as drawing, felting, bead art and clay work. The collection held a private viewing on the 11th of August at 7pm. One of the activity coordinators went to the viewing and took photos to show the residents their artwork being displayed. Also, looking at Newhouse’s social media sites, they said that the private viewing was a success and that all artwork submitted had been sold. All money made from the resident’s artworks went back to Woodlarks.


At Woodlarks, we had a new telephone system installed earlier this year. The process took two days, but now we can see who calls in and make sure phone calls go to the correct person.  The new phones are powered by WIFI, and we can now take voicemails we can easily access.

We also recently had a new industrial printer set up and connected to all computers in the building. All staff will send their documents to the main printer, and the machine will hold the papers until the staff put in their pin, which will then print only their copies.

At the start of this year, Woodlarks installed new air purifiers all around the building. They will work similarly to the sanitiser machine we received in 2018 to help keep our communal areas germ-free. The sanitisers will periodically clean all open spaces at Woodlarks, such as our dining room, activity centre and all hallways.

TWC have always experienced demand for beds from disabled adults in the community who have either found themselves in need of care or require a move from an existing home. We have been unable to help everyone as we rarely have beds available. It was decided to relook at the extension proposed in 2013. We contacted Architects Stedman Blower and the plans were redrawn and once perfected were put forward to Waverley for Planning Approval. In March this year we were granted planning permission. We are now in the process of bringing those plans to life. We have a new charity Woodlarks Empowering the Less Abled (WELA) which is raising the funding required. We have an estimate of 6,000,000 being the target sum to raise. The plans are available for viewing so if you are interested, please do ask. If you can help in any way with the fundraising, please get in touch.

New Managers:

In November, Woodlarks appointed 2 new care managers who will share the role. Our new care managers are Michelle Hayter and Thomas Marsh.

Michelle re-joined the company in July 2022; she had worked with the Woodlarks for many years and is familiar with so many of the residents. During her time away from TWC she managed smaller homes. We are fortunate to welcome her back with her new knowledge gained from her role managing homes and resident’s needs.

Thomas joined Woodlarks earlier this year with a senior carer position. While working at Woodlarks he has proved himself to have many skills needed for a manager. He has been studying at Open University for a degree in health and social care, along with working towards receiving his NVQ5. We believe with these two managers working together, we have the advantage of each of their skills combined and we look forward to their skills and ideas taking us into the future.

Holiday for Residents:

This year, three of our residents went on a holiday to Wraxall this was planned by our senior Carer, Erin. The residents spent five days down by the coast and participated in many different activities. They stayed in two spacious rooms, and the carers were always nearby. On one of the first days, they got some fresh air sightseeing around the coast. The sea there was beautiful, and the residents took many photos. The residents also got the opportunity to go to a farm to pet some animals and explore an aquarium.


In 2023 Woodlarks planned for the residents to have a Christmas dinner at the rural life centre the week before Christmas. We discussed with the owner and agreed to rearrange the tables, so it WAS easier for the wheelchairs to get around.

After talking with the campsite next door, they were not be able to host their yearly Christmas grotto due to them undergoing construction. However, we arranged for them to visit Woodlarks dressed in their Christmas character outfits and give the residents gifts on the 5th of December.

We had our annual carol service on the 16th of December. Following the service we served mulled wine, minced pies and stollen. We invited family, friends and volunteers to come along, it was lovely to see you all there.

Our activity team also arranged for many different performances such as:

  • a live stream panto of the Christmas carol performed at the Old Vic on the 11th of December.
  • Choir performance on the 13th of December
  • Jingle bell singers on the 16th of December
  • Punch and Judy on the 23rd of December
  • Group of performers for the 23rd of December

For Christmas dinner, our catering met with the residents to discuss what they wanted. The residents decided that they would like to go with a traditional 3-course meal including wine and then coffee with baileys for those that wanted.

Special Thanks:

We at Woodlarks would again like to extend our thanks to all those who have supported us this year. Since the COVID restrictions have been lifted, Woodlarks have actively been trying to reintroduce old activities and get the residents back into the world. Your contributions are greatly appreciated, whether you donated new games to our activity centre or shared the word about Woodlarks, which allowed us to grow as a charity and provide the highest quality care.  Everyone’s donations have helped us fund more activities inside and outside Woodlarks. We look forward to what 2024 will bring and hope you will continue to support Woodlarks.