That’s the rallying call from one of Britain’s best-loved actors, Dame Penelope Keith, who was the special guest at this year’s Surrey Day (Saturday May 13th) – the annual celebration of all that is great about our diverse and beautiful county. Best known for The Good Life, which was set in suburban Surrey in the 1970s, and To The Manor Born, the star is a long-time resident of Surrey. Having also served as both Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey and the county’s High Sheriff, this made her the perfect choice.
Taking place for the fifth consecutive year, this year’s Surrey Day proved to be the most successful one yet. Hosted by Visit Surrey, the county’s tourist organisation, in partnership with BBC Radio Surrey, the Surrey Lieutenancy, and Local Food Surrey, the much-anticipated celebration saw people of all ages come together to enjoy a whole range of special events, activities, and VIP visits.
Among the highlights, Dame Penelope Keith made a special guest appearance at one of her own favourite Surrey spots, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, where she has often starred herself. A Grade II Listed building, the theatre hosts a wide range of productions, from an award-winning pantomime to pre-West End plays.
Dame Penelope remarked: “It’s been absolutely fascinating seeing places that I hadn’t seen before. I went to West Horsley Place, which is lovely, and I’d never seen Shepperton Lock either. The feeling has been just fun and that’s what we all need now.”
The day also featured a series of other VIP visits covering all four corners of the county – including from the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, who presented two Lord Lieutenant’s Awards of Appreciation, which recognise individuals who contribute exceptional service to our local communities. Also out and about were the Vice Lord Lieutenant, Sir Stephen Lamport DL; and the High Sheriff, Timothy Wates DL.
Many residents flocked to greet the Surrey Day heritage bus, provided by the London Bus Museum (based at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge) supported by the Surrey Lieutenancy. Hosting the radio team, the bus appeared at various popular tourist attractions, including Painshill Park in Cobham, RHS Garden Wisley and Hampton Court Palace, the latter of which was historically in Surrey. Others shared their love of the county through social media – and, at the height of the celebrations, #SurreyDay was trending on Twitter.
Each year, a particular theme is chosen for Surrey Day, and for 2023 it was the county’s waterways. Many of the activities therefore focused on the special people and places along the River Wey and the River Thames. To highlight this important part of the county’s heritage, the BBC recorded a themed podcast. This will be available on BBC Sounds for the next few weeks for those that didn’t catch it first time round.