We launch our very own Certificate of Excellence to reward local organisations that add to the overall culture and well-being of Surrey & SW London
In today's crazy mixed up world it's always hard to know who you can trust to deliver excellence. Whether it's a café, restaurant, pub, theatre company or even charity, if you've not experienced a local organisation first hand it's hard to know if it will be any good at delivering its services to a high standard.
With that in mind we created the Essential Surrey & SW London Certificate of Excellence, a weighty stamp of approval given out to only the very best local companies/charities/people who have made a significant contribution to the overall culture and well-being of Surrey & SW London, something our readers can see and instantly know that they're in safe hands.
The selection process varies but always involves input from a combination of our editors, freelance writers and of course, most importantly, our readership. So please do get involved on our social media channels – Twitter: @EssentialSurrey, Facebook: @Sheengate – or in the comments section below to let us know about your own favourite local purveyors of excellence.
Below are the winners of the award so far...
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Picked by Elmbridge and Kingston editor Rosanna Greenstreet
Brooklands began as the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, constructed by local landowner Hugh Locke King on 330 acres of farm and woodland on his Weybridge estate in 1906. Today it is an internationally recognised ‘living museum’ with an extraordinary collection of historic aircraft and vehicles that are kept running by an army of volunteers who interact with visitors to ensure that they get the most out of their visits. Highlights for 2017 include virtual flights aboard Concorde and a special event in February commemorating the legendary test pilot Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown who died last February at the age of 97.
Picked by former Guildford, Woking & Farnham editor Nikki Ackerley
I have long been a fan of this restaurant’s Thai cuisine and its excellent takeaway service has saved me from a couple of dinner party disasters over the past few months. I can honestly say there isn’t a single dish that disappoints.
The Certificate of Excellence is designed to recognise businesses that always go the extra mile, making the Giggling Squid a worthy winner in my opinion. And just as an extra plug – a new Giggling Squid opens in Castle Street, Farnham on January 13.
Picked by Surrey Downs editor Jane McGowan
Not only does this restaurant produce fantastic, authentic Italian food, but proprietor Maria and her team always go that extra mile to make your evening go with a swing.
Picked by Richmond & Barnes editor Fiona Adams
I have been visiting Kew for almost 20 years and I am always impressed by its ability to constantly reinvent itself. With more than 250 years of history spread over 300 acres of grounds, Kew faces an arduous task looking after all of its existing buildings and plants, some of which are endangered, while also keeping an eye out for project and festival ideas which will engage both old and new users of the Gardens. Where else can you discover one of the oldest pot plants in the world (a Jurassic cycad) and award-winning installation, the Hive (above), by artist Wolfgang Buttress within 10 minutes’ walk of each other? Art, horticulture, history and science: it’s all here on our doorstep.
Picked by Guildford, Farnham & Woking editor Jane McGowan
This award coincides with celebrations for the companies ten year anniversary, having put on 27 shows to a total of 62,000 audience members. Brian Blessed has also taken on the role of Honorary Patron, describing the group as, "Nothing short of miraculous". Looking to expand to a new premises, so they can provide private rehearsals, workshops and education spaces - this is a vibrant space to watch.
Their current production is Julius Caesar at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford.
630 Clapham Common, Clapham Junction, SW4 0RN
Picked by Wandsworth & Clapham editor Sam Laurie
Congratulations to Clapham’s Royal Trinity Hospice, the Wandsworth/Clapham Magazine's first recipient of Essential Surrey’s Certificate of Excellence award, which celebrates those who make a real difference in our communities.
Few could be more worthy than Britain’s oldest hospice, founded in 1891 by a member of the Hoare banking family, which receives less than one third of its funding from the NHS. From epic choirs bringing patients and families together in song to befriending services to reach out to the most isolated folk, the hospice is not just an innovative fundraiser (see for example, its superb online vintage clothes boutique at royaltrinityhospice.co.uk) but a compassionate hub of community. Well done, and very best of luck in its first ever overseas challenge – an October trek of the Great Wall of China. Still spaces if you fancy it!
Picked by Richmond & Barnes Editor Fiona Adams
Retro combines fine dining with the comfortable, informal atmosphere of a local bistrot. Their mouth watering menu is constantly being evolved but they keep popular classics such as chateaubriand and mussels all year round. Lounge on one of their luxurious sofas with a glass of wine or expertly made cocktail whilst enjoying one of the restaurants regular live music nights.
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