SPARKS funding for Ash Villages Food Parcels Project

Just like so many other charities, churches and community projects, the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project is suffering from a reduction in donations of food, toiletries and funds as everyone adjusts their budgets to get through the cost of living crisis. We are doing all we can to keep costs very tightly controlled and have been more public about asking for help on social media recently. However, funding is very tight and we are in need of more help to keep the service going for as long as it is needed.

Today we are delighted to share some good news – the SPARKS fund has awarded us enough funds to fill our food parcels for 5 weeks! The SPARKS fund is part of Voluntary Action South West Surrey, helping communities impacted by covid19 and its wider impact on health and wellbeing. This is a very welcome grant indeed, and will make a huge difference to the local people we support in Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. Every parcel is a response to help a person or family in crisis, and every penny of this grant will be providing food and essential toiletries to those in need in the coming weeks.

We hope that all our friends and neighbours in the local area will keep the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project in your thoughts and prayers as we head towards autumn and winter. Please do get in touch if you would like to volunteer, donate or collect tins at your school / company / club / church / shop / and please keep us in mind especially as Harvest Festival approaches. We would be very grateful for any contributions of store cupboard foods, essential toiletries or indeed funds which we use to buy supplies in bulk. We also accept donations online via Give a Little here:

Thank you for your support and wishing you a wonderful summer,

Alex & Carla

#AshVillagesFoodParcelsProject #FoodBank #AshVale #AshGreen #Tongham #Ash #Community

Contact us about the project: 07730 609446 /

Ash Villages Food Parcels Project

By Alex Sanderson 

Did you know? This amazing local team of volunteers have been feeding people in need in our villages since April 2020!

How does St Mary’s fit in? St Mary’s is the local parish church in Ash Vale. As well as Sunday services, we love to serve our amazing community all week long! We host community groups – everything from toddlers to choir to Friday Community Cafe. Nearby, we work with the local Methodist Circuit to run the Chapel Project on Wharf Rd. We offer a Monday Chapel Cafe & warm hub there, host the Chapel Kids toddler group with lunch club, and provide summer picnics, monthly makes and other community, creativity and arts events. In these difficult times our most important project is the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project (and our Community Fridge opening Summer 2023). We work together with Carla Morson and a superb team of volunteers from both the church and the Ash Villages Support Circle, feeding 20-40 families every week. 

What does the project do? The Ash Villages Food Parcels Project serves our neighbours in Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. We deliver emergency food and toiletries to local people in crisis, and offer a listening ear. Twice a week teams go out in the evening to collect donations of bread and perishables from the supermarkets and others shop for the best value items to top this up, to make a balanced food parcel. We add these to the food items donated by local people and then pack the parcels the following morning, ready to go out to local people in need. 

How do we help people? Our Food Parcels project helps local people in crisis, by providing emergency food and toiletries. This includes ‘baby bank’ items eg nappies. Referrals come from CAB, Wellbeing Team, Social Services, DWP and local churches too. As well as food, we offer a listening ear, and help to connect people to other sources of help, including Monday Chapel Cafe and local warm hubs. We are passionate about connecting with people to battle against the anxiety, isolation and mental strain that goes hand in hand with food poverty, not just providing a one-off parcel. The lovely thing is, that lots of people who receive a parcel later go on to volunteer or donate to help others once they are back on their feet. This community is truly amazing! 

How can local people help? We can all work together to help our neighbours. Our volunteers are amazing at what they do and we can always use more hands on deck. The other issue is of course funding. Typically we spend around £400 per week on basic essentials for the parcels, to top up what comes in as donated items. Please help us to keep the food parcels filled and keep the Chapel doors open for a warm welcome. Here’s the donations link:

You can donate once or sign up for a regular gift. If 100 people could regularly give £4 a week we could cover the food costs! Will you join us? 

You can also donate items for the parcels direct to us. We use the app called  “Bank the food” to let our supporters know what is most needed each week. You can text or phone us and ask if you’d like more information: 07730609446

Thank you for your support. It makes all the difference to local people in need. Let’s make sure we can proudly say that in our lovely community,  none of our neighbours go hungry. 

Thank you for your support. 


90+ year olds with MP3s

By Wendy Catto

At Catto Homecare we are giving five lucky clients suffering with memory challenges MP3 players with headphones. It is an exciting process just to start with ‘phase one’ – choosing the music. With the help of our fantastic team of carers, our clients were tasked to select 15 different artists with the relevant song. We anticipated requests that would match their era eg Elvis, The Rat Pack (they consisted of six members for anyone who is scratching their head at the moment: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Angie Dickinson), Jazz, Vera Lynn ‘We’ll Meet Again’ or similar. How wrong could we be. One person who we never really expected to even be interested in music has requested ‘any music’ from the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. One of our team members has been shown how to dance the Foxtrot and she has also been known in the past to enjoy listening to ‘techno rave music’ on the TV at full volume. This same lady also requested ‘jazz’ and when asked which specific songs, the response was ‘any jazz is good jazz’.

We will provide an update in a couple of weeks with ‘phase two’ when we find out what happens once we help them with their MP3s. We are also excited to find out the results.

The moral of the story is that a day in domiciliary care is never the same and it is a joy to work with older people. They will always surprise you.

Best regards


Wendy Catto
(Registered Manager)

Catto Homecare: Registered Address
: 5 Hamesmoor Way, Mytchett GU16 6JG, UK 

#CattoHomeCare #MP3Players #Music #LocalNews #Community #Parishioner

What food should I donate for the foodbank? There’s an App for that! 

Did you know? There is a new app out there called “Bank the Food” which helps everyone to know just what to donate to their local food banks to help those in need in the community.

Our local Food Parcels Project started during Covid and feeds local people every week. Search for Ash Vale in the App and you will see we are on the list for donations. We would be very glad of your support. We are of course grateful for all donations, but if you use the app, the advantage is that  you can see what we need most urgently, 

The last step is getting the donations to us. If you shop in the village you can pop items in the collecting basket at Ash Vale Co-op (tap your membership card while you’re in there and collect point for the community fund  please!). Wherever you shop, you can buy items to donate and drop them off at St Mary’s Church on Vale Road or The Chapel on Wharf Road whenever they are open. We do the rest, packing parcels and making sure they reach our neighbours in need in our local community of Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. 

Thank you for your support, it makes a huge difference. We would especially like to thank everyone who supported the Christmas food parcels last week. Over 130 local people were brought some Christmas cheer with food, treats, gifts and winter warmers. It makes a big difference to local people. Thank you!

Alex, Carla and all the team. 

PS – if you are struggling to afford enough to eat you can be referred to us by Citizens Advice / Job Centre / local churches / health visitor / social services / Guildford borough wellbeing team. 

Warm Hubs launched across Surrey

Press release from SCC

This Winter, Surrey County Council, district, borough town & parish councils have been working together with Surrey’s fantastic faith and community groups to open up a network of Warm Hubs that are there to support residents who will be affected by the cost-of-living and energy crisis.

Many millions of UK residents will be affected by soaring energy bills, and Surrey is no different, with tens of thousands of our neighbours, friends, and families being forced to make difficult decisions on whether to heat their homes or eat three meals a day.

We know that many of our homes are poorly insulated, and this combined with the extreme types of weather we’ve been seeing, as a result of climate change, means this Winter could be even harder.  The combination of adverse weather, poorly heated homes and people unable to keep their heating on poses a real threat to people’s health. 

That’s why a network of Warm Hubs has been set up across Surrey to provide support to residents in these challenging times.  The Warm Hubs are spaces across the county, where people can drop-in, get warm, have a hot drink and be in the company of other people. Very simply a place to get warm. There will also be people on hand to give free energy advice. Helping people with advice to make their homes more energy efficient and ultimately reduce their fuel bills.

There are currently nearly 70 of these warm spaces that have been opened up in a variety of community spaces including community and church halls, libraries, leisure centres and even museums across the county.

For more information on where these Warm Hubs will be visit

Councillor Marisa Heath Cabinet Member for Environment said “Having been through COVID-19 we saw how communities in Surrey pulled together to support one another, particularly looking out for the most vulnerable amongst us.  And once again through the provision of this network of Warm Hubs, we can see all sectors of the community working together to provide a warm space for those who may be struggling to keep warm this winter.  This provision is open to everyone, it’s a free service that is quite simply a space for people to come and get warm and mix with others from their community. It also provides the opportunity for people to get some free energy advice which can help them to make sure they are using their energy most efficiently and know where to go to for any support that is out there which can help them to make any improvements.”

Warm Hubs helping you to get warm and stay warm. Find your nearest Warm Hub here #warmhubs #NoOneLeftBehind #staywarm

From The Parishioner Editor: “Did you know? St Mary’s here in Ash Vale is a Warm Hub! Pop in to our Community Café on Fridays from 10am for free hot drinks and a natter, followed by soup lunch 12:00-13:00″ Other local churches are covering different days too. Have a look at the Warm Hubs list! #warmhubs #NoOneLeftBehind #staywarm #Community #StMarysAshVale

Picnic and Play 2022

By Alex Sanderson (Project Manager)

We have had the BEST summer at The Chapel this year. It has been so lovely to be back with Picnic and Play, enjoying the activities and meeting friends old and new. Thank you to everyone who helped, donated and supported, and all who joined in and made it such fun! It was a wonderful community effort, with volunteers from local churches and the wider community coming together to make it a lovely summer for all.

The theme for August 2022 was The Seaside and we had our own “beach” with 850kg of sand to play in, and paddling pool to keep cool in the heatwave. Thank you to everyone who helped with that – it was a huge effort to prepare the garden and shift all that sand, we so appreciate your help!

We had wonderful help from the New Way Christian Life Fellowship team to clear the garden, and more volunteers sorting out the safety gates, moving furniture and doing tip runs just to name a few! One volunteer did a sweep of the whole area and pulled up every nettle and bramble to make us toddler safe. What a hero!

The Art and Craft activities were lovely, thanks to our Artists in Residence Debi and Jono, and Revd Gina and her team from the local Methodist Circuit. There was everything from tie dye to paper chain octopus and from potato printing to portraits. ChapelKids have been working on grow your own food projects in the Summer term, and shared some of their gardening skills, with cress planting, bean sprout jars and pea shoots. (Have a look at the beans growing in the garden now – they are ready to pick!). Everyone enjoyed the disco too, especially the games that involved winning sweets – thank you DJ Martin!

Our feedback forms were of course full of…. the pancakes! As ever the most popular bit of the picnic every summer. Thank you Revd Neil and Charlie for these, they were delicious. A huge thank you also goes to Barbara and Kat who made the sandwiches and Julie, Elaine and others who helped stuff all the picnic bags. George and Heather were wonderful too, providing a warm welcome and a hot cuppa (or a cold lemonade on the hottest days!)

The community feel was so lovely, with families arriving early to help set up and staying late to help tidy up and clean. The generosity of donations was super too, with lots of items donated for the play area and a fantastic summer swap shop. It’s one of those times when the phrase “it takes a village” rings true, in fact a lot of us would count one another as family. If you are in the area next summer, some and see what it’s all about!

We must give a special mention to our generous donors, including the Co-Op whose community funding is helping to cover some of the costs to make it happen. We do receive some donations from those participants who are able to give towards the costs, which is important to keep us open, but having this support from the community fund and other generous donors means we never have to turn anyone away who can’t donate. Thank you Co-Op! (Do keep swiping your co-op membership cards in the shop everyone please for the community fund points!)

As we look to the Autumn term, there is lots planned for you to come and enjoy at The Chapel. On Wednesdays, ChapelKids is starting up again for the Autumn term. 11am-14:00 including a new Parenting Pod and Lunch Club as well as the usual Baby and Toddler Group. For more details phone or text us on 07730 609446 (or whatsApp or imessage)

If you would like to donate for the work of The Chapel we welcome donations all year round. Thank you for your support!

We can crush for charity!

By Rosie

My name is Rosie, and I am 9 years old. I live in Surrey and go to school in Hampshire. I am a member of our school eco club and am passionate about making changes to help save our planet and animal habitats, but also to keep our local area clean and green. I wanted to do something to help and had heard that drinks cans are often put into landfill as they are not cleaned or put in the wrong bin. So I decided to collect cans to be recycled. I was told that I could be paid for the cans, so I thought I could raise money for charity as well as recycling. The charity I chose was Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care. I had heard how amazingly caring they are to people who are ill, and how much they support the families as well. They are based near to my home, and I wanted to support a local charity. They also seem really nice and friendly.

Lots of people from the area, Ash, Ash Vale, Tongham, Aldershot etc donated their cans . We had three collection bins, one at my house in Ash and one at the home of a lovely lady who offered to help in Ash Vale, called Claire, who was brilliant. The other was at a local café called Chappies, with the help of Jackie who owns the café. (Her waffles are amazing). Some of the local community even donated bins, which we really needed!

We collected the cans and took them to Shaun and all the staff at Bakers, a metal recycling company, in Farnham. They have been raising money for Phyllis Tuckwell for 20 years by recycling metals that have been donated to them for Phyllis Tuckwell. Shaun paid me for the cans and then he sent them off to be recycled. This way each can is certain to be recycled and not left in landfill. Many of our cans would be remade into new cans and back in the shops, some as quickly as six weeks! We started collecting in October 2021. We finished collecting in May 2022 and have raised £157.00, which means we recycled roughly 300kg, that is approximately 16700 cans!! That is a lot of cans not in the wrong bins and not in landfill. So, we raised money for a good cause, to help people, and we made a little difference to the environment.

Thank you to everyone who helped and supported my challenge. I even got my Eco Blue Peter badge! I had wanted to raise £50.00, but we did so much more. People are fantastic!

This did not take much effort, but a little effort of a lot of people from my community. If everyone made a little effort, just think what we could do!

Photo of Rosie and the staff at Bakers

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative Prayer – Wednesday evenings: Sarah will be starting a regular Wednesday evening session of contemplative prayer in the Church from 22nd June. This will be a weekly event with the lead being shared between Neil and Sarah. More details of timings are available by contacting the church office

Prayer is central to God moving in our lives and we have several ways in which we gather as a fellowship to pray. Other ways to pray together include the prayer chain, Tuesdays at 11:45am in Church, monthly Friday evening prayer meetings, prayer ministry after the service on Sundays, and in our homegroups. How is God calling you to pray?

God desires us to be in relationship with Him and praying is simply talking to God and including Him in everything that you do. If you don’t feel comfortable praying or feel unsure of how to pray, do talk to Revd Neil or anyone from the Prayer Ministry Team.

#Prayer #TryPraying #Community #PrayerMinistry #ContemplativePrayer

Summer Fair 23rd July 2022

Come and join us at St Mary’s for our Summer fair!

Saturday 23rd July,  12-3pm (Save the date in your diary now!)

St. Mary’s Church, Ash Vale, GU12 5JE

Prizes, Refreshments, Music, Competitions and much, much more

Free Entry

If you would like a stall please contact our wonderful Church Warden Martin who is organizing the event. You can contact him on or text our Project Manager with a message to pass on to him: 07730 609446.

We look forward to welcoming you!