The residents of Surrey Heath and surrounding areas visited Camberley Town Centre in numbers reminiscent of better days, whilst still being respectful of others, which was greatly appreciated by everyone, and meant that the town was once again buzzing with life.

Despite the unpredictable weather, on Saturday 24 July 2021, visitors joined in to help the town centre mark the end of restrictions, and to celebrate all that it has to offer.

Collectively Camberley Business Improvement District (Love Camberley), alongside their town centre partners, Surrey Heath Borough Council, Camberley Theatre, The Atrium and The Square hosted the ultimate ‘Celebration’ with an array of free activities and entertainment across the whole Town Centre.

The day consisted of free family fun and lots of smiles, whether they be seen on the climbing wall, in the caving experience, bouncing on a bungee trampoline or cheering a hole in one whilst playing mini golf! The fun didn’t stop there, children enjoyed getting their faces painted and requesting anything they could dream of, from the balloon modeller. Visitors stared in awe at the impressive stilt walkers and the mesmerising magician who entertained throughout the day.

On both Park Street and High Street, a stage full of local singers, dancers and performers, including The Secret Stage School and Creative Minds Academy, kept crowds entertained all day, adding to the party like atmosphere. Camberley’s newly regenerated High Street was now able to be showcased by activities, meaning that footfall was being shared across the whole Town.

Jodie MacAndrew, Collectively Camberley Manager said; “It was the absolute pleasure of the town centre partners to organise this event on behalf of the Camberley Town Centre Businesses. The purpose of the day was to fully reopen our town centre with a bang!”

“The day was about celebrating and appreciating our businesses, as well as the community, by giving them a day to have fun, reconnect and support each other. There was something for everyone. All of the different elements of the event worked really well together, each having their own unique purpose, but ultimately all linking back to a joint objective of making Camberley feel alive again.”

“Like all of our large-scale events, ‘Celebrate Camberley’ showed off the town centre in its full glory to visitors, both new and returning, and we have received positivity and praise from many people already!”

“I am very proud of what we achieved on the day and how the positivity and good feel we created can now feed into the coming weeks and months as our town centre continues to recover.”

Inside of The Square, Mrs Potts’ Place offered free arts and crafts, whilst Waterstones and The Rock Box hosted a Book and Record Fair. Throughout the day, local authors took to the stage to speak about their latest books, bringing their stories to life! One author notably brought their book’s character, a real-life tortoise names Flash to meet the families of Camberley.  

Rhoda Joseph, Centre Manager, The Square Camberley, said; “We’re thrilled with the success of the Celebrate Camberley event, seeing Camberley unite to host our first event following restrictions easing. There was a real buzz around the centre throughout the day, which saw families enjoy free arts and crafts, have the chance to meet local authors and purchase the latest reads and second-hand vinyl’s’ as part of our Book and Record Fair.”

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our retailers for taking part in the town-wide event, including Sorelle’s and Muffin Break who helped supply food for the Camberley Hero experience, Mrs Potts’ Place for hosting the arts and crafts session, plus Waterstones and The Rock Box for fronting the Book and Record Fair. It was also great to see the talented pupils from The Secret Stage School come together to perform on Park Street for the first time in nearly two years!”

Part of the celebrations of the day was to acknowledge and thank our amazing key workers and voluntary organisations. Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue attended with several vehicles and goodies for the public to enjoy, whilst the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Army Engagement Group and the Gurkhas spoke to the public about their roles. Our unparalleled NHS was represented by the local Frimley team, who were giving out advice and information to interested passers-by.

Surrey Pride, Neighbourhood Watch, Camberley Library, Surrey Heath Museum and several of Camberley’s Town Centre Businesses also joined in on the day, spreading the word about their great work and opportunities for the community to be involved with.

In the weeks prior to the event date, the public were asked to nominate their ‘Camberley Hero.’ A nomination was encouraged for anyone who had made a real impact on the local community, as a key worker, a local business staff member or anyone else who has stepped up and made a difference during the pandemic.

A successful nomination meant that a ‘Camberley Hero’ would be treated to a VIP experience on Park Street. They would receive a meal and drinks from a local restaurant, a meet and greet with Surrey Heath’s Mayor, a goody bag full of treasures from several Camberley businesses and be thanked publicly on the day.

Nominations were naturally received by the masses and were all worthy of a place. This meant that judging was extremely difficult to narrow down to 30, each with a guest. A full list of all nominated Heroes is available to view on the website.

On the day, Chiquito, Wildwood and Sorelle’s kindly provided delicious meals for the three sittings and goody bags were given out to all Heroes. All goody bags were sponsored by Specsavers, Mrs Potts’ Place, Muffin Break, Butt Miller, McDonalds, Jacks of London, The Massage Company, Surrey Home and Gifts, Bayfields Opticians, Craft Coop, Living in Vogue, Polly’s Place – The Autism Trust and Fun Foto Factory.

Jonathan Dowsett, Centre Manager, The Atrium, said; “It was a fantastic day from start to finish! We’ve had some great feedback from visitors, our Town Centre Businesses plus our Camberley Heroes, all who enjoyed everything from the array of live performances to family fun activities.”

“I would like to personally thank our restaurants Chiquito and Wildwood for their efforts in providing our, very well deserved, Camberley Heroes with their VIP meal. We truly to appreciate the support our Heroes have given to our community through the pandemic, and this was a small token of our thanks.”

One of Camberley’s nominated Heroes, James Robinson, said; “I would like to thank you and the Collectively Camberley team for a wonderful day on Saturday. I could see how much effort had gone into to making the day so special for the ‘Camberley Heroes’ and I am hugely grateful.  Please pass on my thanks to everyone involved.”

Surrey Heath’s very own Mayor greeted, thanked and handed out a ‘Camberley Hero’ certificate to the worthy nominees.

The Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Sarah Jane Croke said; “Celebrate Camberley you ROCKED!  What an incredible day on Saturday, fantastic entertainment, great atmosphere, a fun-filled packed day for the borough.”

“Thank you to all that came, all that helped, all that performed, and to our own very special VIP’s. I sure felt the LOVE and I’m so very proud of our Borough – Surrey Heath.”