New Local Testing Site Opened In Epsom

A new walk-through coronavirus testing facility has opened for those with symptoms to book appointments at the Upper High Street Car Park (KT17 4DU) in Epsom, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to continue to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for local communities.

Testing at this site is only available for those with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at or by calling 119. The government is committed to continue expanding the capacity of the network of UK test sites and laboratories to make it even easier to get tested and reduce the time it takes to receive test results.

The new site is situated so it is easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practicing good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre. 

Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through test site will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Testing at the new site started on Tuesday, 16th February, with appointments made available each day.

The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history which has the capacity to process more than 700,000 tests a day and includes more than 800 sites across the UK, including 88 drive-through sites, 493 walk-through sites, six Lighthouse laboratories, home testing and satellite kits, and a large number of mobile units.

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them trace their contacts. This will help to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for ten days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.

Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said: To respond to the coronavirus, we have built a major testing and tracing system from scratch. We are constantly working to expand and improve it with new technologies and innovations so everyone with symptoms can get a test.

“New walk-in sites like this one makes it even easier to get a test no matter where you live. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, I urge you to book a test today and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted to protect others and stop the spread of the virus.”

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “Walk-through sites offer communities better access to coronavirus testing, so everyone with symptoms can get a test. This new site is part of our ongoing work to expand our testing network across the UK which now has the capacity to process more than 700,000 tests a day. We will continue to expand capacity to improve test turnaround times and push forward testing innovations to make sure anyone who needs a test can get one.

 “Please book a test if you have coronavirus symptoms: a new continuous cough, a high temperature and a loss or change in sense of smell or taste, and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted.”

 The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Serco and will offer self-administered tests.

 Jonathan Brasher, Serco’s Director for Testing Centres, said: “We are pleased to be supporting the Government, in their work to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, as one of the providers managing testing centres, including this new local test centre in Epsom.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues within Serco who work extremely quickly and professionally to set up these testing centres, alongside the other organisations involved. I know that they are proud to be playing their part to help deliver this vital programme.”

Council sets budget for 2021/22

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council set its budget for 2021/22 yesterday evening (Tuesday 16 February) at a Full Council meeting.

In setting the budget, councillors have agreed a 2.43% increase to council tax (borough council portion) – this is the equivalent of 9.5p per week for the average band D property and the council tax for this borough remains below the average for Surrey. 

The percentage of the overall council tax being paid this year by residents of Epsom and Ewell to the Borough Council will be 10%, Surrey Police will receive 14% and 76% will fund Surrey County Council activities.

The budget was set in the climate of ongoing increased expenditure as the council addresses the pandemic within the borough, including a significant rise in emergency temporary accommodation. The council has also seen a large decrease in commercial income (eg from parking and income from rents) due to COVID-19.

Speaking at the Budget Meeting Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee said he recognised the challenges faced by so many residents including “the lockdowns, the absence of physical contact with family and friends, the worries over employment, being furloughed, the closure of schools and the challenges of home schooling, and the toll on the mental health of so many”.

He added that “Using the ideas in the Councils Future 40 vision which were shaped by residents themselves, we will further develop our recovery plan, for the Council and the Borough as whole, to Build Back Better so that, collectively and individually, we will be stronger and even better than before”

Referencing the new council tax rate, which for the lowest council tax band will be just 6 pence extra a week, Councillor Kington said that:  “We are asking all our residents pay a few pence extra each week so that we can come through the pandemic in a stronger position whilst collectively protecting the very important services that support the most vulnerable members of our community”

Councillor Kington also said he was “Very pleased that, as in previous years, there are no cuts to the services provided by the Borough Council”.

This budget key facts:

Council tax for the borough to remain one of the lowest in Surrey

Council tax increase just 10p per week

Residents on the lowest council tax band will pay just 6p extra a week

Ongoing investment in the borough’s future to continues

The budget sees a rise in the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council proportion of council tax of £4.95 per annum or 2.43% (for band d property).

For full details of the budget CLICK HERE



Asymptomatic Coronavirus Test Centre

Normally at this time of year Bourne Hall is getting ready to host Herald of Spring with What’s On In Epsom Spring Craft Fair but like most events since March 2020 this will not be taking place this year. Today in the fight against Covid a new Asymptomatic Coronavirus test centre has opened at Bourne Hall for those essential workers who are not tested in the workplace and show no signs of any symptoms. I went along to get tested and to show you what to expect.

To get a test you must book via Surrey County Council website CLICK HERE The site also has information on who can have the test.

The first thing to note is that the Car Park at Bourne Hall is still pay and display so you will need to allow for this on your arrival. If you have Ring Go on your phone you can pay via the app. 

Entrance to the test centre is to the left of the main entrance, the main entrance is for click and collect from the library,  At the entrance to the site you are met and shown to the Registration area. 

Here you will need to show proof of your address, tests are for residents of Surrey, and your test booking. Staff are on hand to sign you in. Once completed you will be shown to one of the 10 bays for your test.

Here you will be explained the test procedure and you start by blowing your nose. Once you are happy to start you will be handed a swab. Holding the swab in your hand, you open your mouth wide and gently rub the swab’s fabric tip over both tonsils at the back of the throat for 10 seconds, I must say I don’t like this bit at all, Once completed you put the same end of the swab gently into one of your nostril until you feel some resistance. Rotate the swab for 10 to 15 seconds and slowly remove it. 

You then place the swab in the tube provided and break off the tip of the swab and hand back to the member of staff. The test is now complete and you are shown the way out at the other end of the hall turning left down the corridor and back out into the car park near the Way Out gate of Bourne Hall.

I did noticed on my way out that the bays are cleaned thoroughly after each person has been tested and from the time you enter the building till the time you leave you are required to wear a face mask.

I was in and out in no time at all with the result texted to my phone after 30 mins. I must say the staff are very helpful, friendly and understanding.

As well as Bourne Hall you can also have your test done at Nima Pharmacy in Stoneleigh

For More Information or To Book A Test CLICK HERE

A big thank you to Ben and the team at Bourne Hall and to  Surrey County Council for allowing us to visit and take photos.

Oh and by the way I tested negative…..

Epsom RDA Volunteer Receives RDA Presidents’ Award

Epsom RDA is very proud that long standing volunteer, Jo Lee, is a recipient of this years’ Riding for the Disabled Association Presidents’ Award. This is the most prestigious volunteer award presented by the National Riding for the Disabled Association and is awarded for exceptional dedication.

Jo, who lives in Epsom, has been volunteering at Epsom RDA for 31 years. In the three decades travelling from teenage volunteer to Trustee and Group Coach Jo has made an outstanding contribution to the Group and is very much at its’ heart. As well as coaching disabled riders on her regular Wednesday evening riding sessions, Jo has responsibility for overseeing the care of the charities’ herd of 10 horses. In addition she is always prepared to step up and led on a myriad of other activities to help the Group including: organising the in-house riders championships, tackling the logistics of volunteers, riders and ponies travelling to Regional Championships and National Championships as well as fundraising and making sure the yard is kept in an orderly fashion. Most recently she has bought the experience from her professional life as a School Business Leader at a large local primary school to contribute to the processes to make Epsom RDA Covid safe for its’ volunteers and riders.

Jo said “When I first arrived at Epsom RDA as a teenager I never for one moment imagined that I would still be volunteering there over 30 years later and that Epsom RDA would become such an important part of mine and my family’s life. I am delighted to have been recognised in this way, but I am mindful that I am one individual representing the wider Epsom RDA community. It is a community that I am very proud to be part off especially so in the challenging circumstances of the last year.”

In her over three decades of service to Epsom RDA Jo has led by example frequently going the extra mile for the benefit of the charities’ riders, volunteers and ponies. It is hoped that Jo will be able to receive her award in person from the RDA President, HRH Princess Anne, at a prestigious event as soon as circumstances allow.

Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association (Epsom RDA) provides disabled people with the opportunity to ride to benefit their health and well-being.

Epsom RDA provides over 3,000 riding lessons for 350 disabled adults and children. Epsom RDA is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Charity Number 1180061) and a member group of the national Riding For The Disabled Association.

Epsom RDA is entirely funded by donations and our own fundraising efforts. For more information CLICK HERE or contact them via email at  [email protected]

Clean, caring, and catered for: £2 million pledge for vital Epsom and St Helier staff

Epsom and St Helier is investing £2 million in the cleaning, catering and portering teams who help to keep patients safe and support hospital and community services 24/7, in a move which will improve pay and benefits for these vital staff members. 

From 1 June 2021, the staff will once more become NHS employees at the Trust, as the current contract (which was held by provider MITIE) comes to an end after a successful six years. In re-joining the NHS family, the cleaning, catering and portering staff will see a number of benefits, including an uplift in pay to ensure all staff are paid the London Living Wage – a 12% increase on current pay for some 440 staff, based on the increased London Living Wage for 2021/22.  

Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “Our cleaning, portering and catering teams are absolutely at the heart of our hospitals and community services. Their work has become even more crucial during the pandemic – cleanliness, professional portering of sick patients, and catering that powers our staff and keeps patients well-fed and hydrated, has never been so important.  

“As the current contract comes to an end, we’ve looked at what’s best for the staff, our hospitals and services, and what provides best value for taxpayer’s money. Having fully assessed our options, and with the support of our Trust Board, we look forward to taking our cleaning, portering and catering services back into the NHS family as part of the Trust’s Estates and Facilities Team. We would like to thank Mitie for its high quality support and service since 2015.”  

The Trust has agreed to invest more than £2 million annually to ensure all staff are paid the London Living Wage from 1 June 2021, meaning a 12% pay increase for all non-supervisory staff in these roles. It will be the biggest staffing investment the Trust will make in the next financial year and also improves benefits for those staff, placing them on direct contracts with the Trust.  

Daniel said: “We have pledged to support equality, and this move is central to that commitment. Some 40% of our cleaning, catering and portering staff are from BAME communities – communities already hit particularly hard by COVID-19. This is absolutely the right time to welcome these teams back to the NHS family, with all of the benefits that brings.”  

For more information about Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust, visit  

To find current job vacancies Click Here


It is somewhat unusual for two racehorse trainers to be celebrating a dead heat, but this is the case for the latest dual winners of the Sir David Prosser Trophy, Simon Dow and Michael Attwater.

For the last two decades, an award has been presented to the leading Epsom trainer of the year.  Since 2014, the award has been named in honour of Sir David Prosser, former Legal & General CEO and unfaltering supporter of the Epsom Training Community, and it will continue to be named in his honour following his death in 2020.  The award takes into account every winner enjoyed by Epsom-based trainers, under both Flat and National Hunt rules, which for Simon and Michael was a total of 18 winners apiece in 2020.

The trophy is usually presented at Epsom Downs racecourse as part of Racing Welfare’s prestigious Epsom Owners’ & Trainers’ Awards in November, however, the event had to be cancelled last year due to Covid-19.  Instead, the achievements of the two winning trainers have been recognised virtually, with an online presentation hosted by local raceday presenter and host Anthony Kemp.

Dawn Goodfellow, Racing Welfare Chief Executive said: “I am delighted that, despite losing the awards event itself, we are still able to recognise the success of two well-established trainers and stalwarts of the Epsom training community.  It is fantastic to see Simon and Michael share this award for 2020.”

Simon Durrant, Epsom Downs Racecourse General Manager said: “Given what has been an extreme and challenging year, it is brilliant that the Epsom Training Community has been able to celebrate continued success.”

You can watch the virtual presentation below. The video also includes an interview with Simon Dow and Michael Attwater who reflect upon what has been a tough year for the industry, as well as looking forward to greater things to come in 2021.

Racing Welfare

Racing Welfare is the only charity that supports all of racing’s people – including stud, stable and racecourse staff, alongside those working in associated professions – from their recruitment right through into retirement. The charity provides a wide range of advice and guidance services, all of which are completely confidential and non-judgmental.  Support is available for a wide range of life’s challenges, including physical health, mental health, bereavement, careers advice, housing, money advice, illness, addiction, relationships and retirement. Racing Welfare’s services are nationally accessible with offices in all of the main racing centres and roving Welfare Officers covering the whole of the country. 

The charity owns 164 units of accommodation across the UK, with a focus on providing housing for young people working in racing and those who have retired from the industry which are managed by its housing arm, Racing Homes.

Racing’s Support Line, a multi-channel support platform, allows people to contact the charity online as well as through a 24hr telephone line.  


Racing’s Support Line: 0800 6300 443

Online self-help resources: