Posts by Janette Butler
Green light for first Elmbridge Tree Warden Scheme

We are delighted that our application to Elmbridge Borough Council for CIL funding was agreed, enabling us to start the first Tree Warden Scheme in Elmbridge.

The new scheme will bring together local volunteers who are interested in improving their communities and who want to help Surrey towards its target of becoming a carbon-neutral county by 2030.

Work has begun in an area of woodland owned by Walton Charity, creating a space for the Tree Wardens to meet, store their equipment and, most importantly, start growing seedlings, ready to plant.

The events we are currently planning are:

  • Sunday 28th November, 10.30 am - 1.00 pm
    This will be our first tree planting event and we will be supporting Elmbridge Borough Council with community planting,
    Click here for full details:

  • During January we will be joining in with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations by planting a community orchard.

  • During February we are planning to plant a hedgerow in the new Tree Wardens’ hub.

There are lots of opportunities to get involved – from digging holes to growing seedlings or helping with the project admin. Email our Green Spaces Manager, Karen Heynike at to find out more, or follow our Facebook page.

Janette ButlerComment
Skilling up the next generation in construction

A Community Grant of £5,000 will enable SATRO to continue teaching practical construction skills to pupils at North East Surrey Short Stay School (NESSSS), a pupil referral unit in Hersham.


SATRO has been delivering its Mobile Construction programme to NESSSS students for more than six years. The pupils, who have been temporarily or permanently excluded from mainstream secondary schools, are given the opportunity to learn practical construction skills from SATRO’s team of experienced construction tutors.

The 2-hour long weekly sessions cover a wide range of introductory units including carpentry, joinery, plumbing, electrical installation, and bricklaying. The students have access to industry standard tools and equipment and can work towards their BTEC Level 1 qualification which is often vital for entry to further education or the workplace.

One of the course tutors, Ron, said: “The highlight of my week is walking into NESSSS. I first began working at NESSSS halfway through the previous academic year. Initially the students were an extremely tough crowd with very little engagement and zero eye contact. Slowly but surely my persistence began to ignite a spark of interest. The advantage that I have as a SATRO tutor rather than a “regular teacher” is that I can roll my sleeves up and work together with the learners. My goodness did my perseverance pay off!”

The change in these young people is profound. Their newly acquired skills and talent for the varied practical projects, particularly in carpentry and joinery, is only superseded by their enthusiasm. This year’s group of both male and female students are outperforming all of my other classes!
— Ron, Tutor
Janette ButlerComment
Charity on cloud nine with new IT system

Our Community Grant of almost £5,000, funding an upgrade to CHEER’s outdated IT system, is already making a huge difference, enabling staff to support more older people in Elmbridge.

CHEER is a local charity helping older people in Elmbridge to lead full and independent lives in their own homes. Their services are free of charge and include arranging regular one-to-one visits to people feeling isolated or lonely and arranging events to promote social interaction. They also help people to apply for benefits and link to other services such as carers.

I was so pleased to find CHEER. Before COVID I had been able to get out and about by myself, but during the lockdowns my sight, mobility and confidence all deteriorated, and I didn’t feel able to get out at all. CHEER helped put me in touch with Elmbridge transport services so I can go out when I need to, and also matched me with a lovely young volunteer who has given me a new lease of life with her vibrant chatty visits.
— A CHEER client

Our grant has enabled the charity to replace their slow, outdated IT system with an up-to-date cloud-based system, allowing them to manage their data securely and efficiently, and providing them with a good foundation for the future. The inclusion of 24/7 technical support increases productivity, allowing their staff to spend more time with their clients and less time on IT headaches.

The COVID pandemic has increased loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly and demand for CHEER’s services has grown. With the help of the grant, we have been able to expand our befriending service and support more of Elmbridge’s elderly.
— Janis Fletcher, CHEER Trustee
Janette ButlerComment
Juliet Hobbs toasts her time as a Walton Charity Trustee

I have been a trustee for Walton Charity for twelve years and was appointed Vice Chairperson in April 2014. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone from when I first started to think about giving something back by volunteering in my local community!

My day job, in Human Resources and People Leadership for a Professional Services company, has meant I’ve supported the Charity across a number of facets. It has enabled me to meet some great people, both working for the Charity and fellow trustees, but what I’ve loved most is learning about our local community. Going about your daily activities, you’re just not exposed to that. My knowledge and understanding of our local community has grown so much over the years.

Living in Walton, and very close to some of the Charity’s sheltered housing, has also played a key part in me feeling part of the Charity. I recently attended an event where a time capsule was buried in the grounds of one of our sheltered housing schemes. The capsule will be a poignant reminder in years to come of the pandemic as it was filled with items that symbolised life during the recent Covid lockdowns. It really captured the positivity and resilience of both our sheltered residents and the local community.

Reflecting on the past twelve years, the Charity has grown into such a forward-looking and enabling operation and it has been great to have been a part of it.

To anyone looking to be a trustee I’d say absolutely go for it! It’s a fantastic opportunity to do something different, learn about your local community, and build and embed relationships with incredible people. It really feels like you’re giving back.

Janette ButlerComment
Walton Charity Receives Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate of Appreciation
Walton Charity team.jpg

On Monday 13th September, Walton Charity’s staff were both delighted and honoured to receive The Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate of Appreciation for our work during the Covid pandemic.

The presentations took place at a special event, held at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton, where six #Elmbridge organisations were presented with certificates from Deputy Lieutenant, Rob Douglas.

The Lord Lieutenant’s Certificates of Appreciation were launched in February 2021, with the aim of recognising those who contribute exceptional service to our local communities, but whose efforts are often overlooked.

During the pandemic, we totally changed the support model for our sheltered residents and our community allotment volunteers, ensuring that they felt safe and supported. Through a programme of virtual events and activities, they were able to keep in touch with staff and each other, learn new skills, and try their hand at new activities.

Recognising the increased need for financial support for both residents and local organisations, we increased our financial support and committed a record £557,579 in grants funding.

During lockdown, when children were unable to attend school, we launched our ‘Computers for Kids’ Appeal, and donated 57 new laptops to #Elmbridge schools, enabling underprivileged children to access home learning.

Other #Elmbridge organisations to receive awards were: Relate West Surrey, Home-Start Elmbridge, North West Surrey Samaritans, Walton & Hersham Foodbank, and The Surrey Coffee Co.

Janette ButlerComment
Mayor of Elmbridge buries lockdown time capsule

On 20 July - a day after Covid restrictions were eased across England - the Mayor of Elmbridge helped us to bury a time capsule filled with items that symbolise life during the recent lockdowns.

From handcrafted rainbows to face masks and ‘panic buy’ toilet rolls, the items in the time capsule will help future generations understand more about life during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our sheltered housing residents and volunteers from our Community Allotment also contributed recipes, letters and poems reflecting on their life during 2020.

Jackie Lodge, Walton Charity Chief Executive said, “As well as creating a historical record of what it was like to live and work during a national lockdown, we wanted to capture the ways Walton Charity and its partners supported the local community during the pandemic. We were also keen to capture the positivity and resilience of both our sheltered residents and the local community.”

The time capsule is buried in the gardens of Mayfield, one of our sheltered housing properties.

Janette ButlerComment
Tackling food poverty in Elmbridge with Brite Box

A Community Grant of £17,000 will give 60 vulnerable families across Elmbridge the opportunity to enjoy cooking a meal together every Friday, starting in September.

Already working in Richmond, Kingston and Southwark, the Brite Box project delivers weekly meal kits to families facing food insecurity and teaches children to cook nutritious meals on a budget, to be enjoyed by the whole family. Voices of Hope, who run the project, hope that the children will have fun learning new skills, and develop a love of cooking. At the end of this year-long project, the budding young chefs will be invited to a graduation party to celebrate their achievements.

Feeding Britain found 1 in 4 adults looking after children had eaten less during the pandemic in order to be able to feed the children in their households

According to the End Child Poverty campaign, there were 3805 children across Elmbridge living in poverty in 2019/2020, with many more families plunged into crisis over the last year as a result of the pandemic. Tackling child poverty in Elmbridge is one of Walton Charity’s funding priorities and we are keen to work with local partners to tackle this growing issue.

Janette ButlerComment
Bridging the Learning Gap at Chandlers Field School

A £6,000 Community Grant to Chandlers Field School will support a catch-up programme for Year 4 students, helping to boost literacy skills following the recent school closures.

The grant will fund a qualified teacher to deliver a 6-week programme focusing on phonics, reading, comprehension and writing. This 1:1 support will make up for lost face-to-face teaching time during lockdown and help to bridge the learning gap.

Lynn Williams, Head Teacher of Chandlers Field School said:

“We were delighted to receive this funding; it has filled a gap that the government funding did not stretch to. We are delighted to be able to provide additional support for these children following such challenging times and know that it will make a significant difference to them.”

Improving educational attainment for disadvantaged students is one of Walton Charity’s funding priorities. The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent school closures has disproportionately impacted poorer students and the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is expected to grow.

Janette ButlerComment
Summer holidays sorted

Six weeks of summer holidays are great fun for children, but for working parents, the school summer holidays can be stressful as they face the extra cost of good quality childcare.

We are delighted to offer a small grant to Acorns, a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing excellent childcare from its base at Walton Oak School since 1999. Our grant will help towards staffing costs for their summer holiday scheme, supporting low-income families.

Learn more about our Community Grants, aimed at tackling inequality in Elmbridge.

Janette ButlerComment
Our Community Allotment has been Yarn Bombed!

On 1st June, we celebrated the return of our volunteers to our Community Allotment by yarn bombing* the allotment site!

On Terrace Road, our largest allotment site is home to our Community Allotment, where people from all walks of life get involved in growing food. The project encourages social inclusion and is targeted at those who face barriers as a result of physical or mental health conditions, learning disabilities, or simple isolation.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly highlighted the need for social and therapeutic horticulture. With many of our Community Allotment volunteers already dealing with isolation, anxiety, and other social issues, at the onset of the pandemic they suddenly faced the fear of losing this vital support.


However, our Land & Estates Manager, Karen Heynike, rose to the challenge and initially ran 1:1 or small groups, whenever the guidance allowed, then during the winter months provided a ‘lifeline’ by switching to a virtual programme when small groups were not permitted.

Participants took part in group activities and were kept busy with activity packs and meal-making kits. Between sessions, they received links to interesting podcasts and online talks too. The varied programme gave them the opportunity to learn new skills and helped them remain engaged and better cope with the stresses of the pandemic.

One of the activities that really enthused participants was the goal of creating an NHS rainbow, made entirely with woollen pompoms, to decorate the Community Allotment. Volunteers were so keen, that Karen decided to expand the project to crochet and knitting, with a plan to yarn bomb the allotment site, with not only the NHS pompom rainbow but also a knitted blue sky with crocheted suns, clouds, knitted grass, and lots more including crochet butterflies, bugs and vegetables.

Follow our Community Allotment on Facebook

*A yarn bomb is a form of street art where yarn in any form decorates an object in the public environment. Yarn installations are a bit like graffiti but aren’t permanent or destructive. The craze was started in America by a lady named Magda Sayeg when she covered her doorknob with a knitted cozy and before long started knitting scarves and hats for statues around her home town in Houston.

Janette ButlerComment
Vote for our Tree Canopy Project!

Despite the downsides of Coronavirus, many people have discovered a new appreciation of the great outdoors. As well as offering a change of scenery, spending time outside can boost our immune systems, lower blood pressure and provide a host of other physical and mental health benefits.

Walton Charity has a legacy of providing land for local community use and our new Tree Canopy Project is a great opportunity for local people and community groups to get outside and get involved in nature.

The project, to be located in our woodlands at Home Farm, Walton-on-Thames, will offer:

  • an outdoor space for the local community to enjoy, to learn more about growing and maintaining woodlands, and/or to create natural artwork.

  • a new Community Allotment site for local charities to run their own small-scale therapeutic gardening schemes.

  • a base for a Tree Warden scheme (the first in Elmbridge!) where volunteers can learn about planting and caring for trees and working with the local authority to help look after our precious street trees.

But we need your help to make it happen! To support our application for funding through Surrey County Council’s Your Surrey Fund, just click on the link below:

If you have an interest in trees and want to get more involved in starting up a local tree-planting project, please get in touch with our Land & Estates Manager,

Janette ButlerComment