In the Henley Herald’s first year we have published over 1,000 stories. We have enjoyed learning and writing about so many different community news stories. There have been some great firsts this year too including Music on the Meadows, Regal by the River, Jazz & Blues Week, Henley Design Day, Love Local Market to name just a few. We thought you might like to reminisce about a few of things that have happened over 2013.
The year started with heavy snowfalls to the delight of the children when the schools had to close.
Katherine Grainger helped St Mary’s Children launch their rowing challenge which was part of their collapsed curriculum week which had a theme of water.
An air ambulance landed on Trinity School playground to help a young baby whose heart had stopped beating.
The Mayor’s annual pancake race took place in very sleety conditions this year with the Henley Lions winning the adult competition and the children’s race was won by 1st Henley Brownies ‘The Brownie Bakers’.
John Howell MP, opened the first Henley Design Day in March. Sixteen local architects were on hand to discuss building conservation, new build, self-build and small domestic extensions and conversions.
The 21st Henley Youth Festival took place this year with the theme ‘Back to the Future’. Hundreds of children from all over Henley enjoyed the many workshops on offer, performed at the Kenton Theatre or took part in one of the competitions.
April saw two fires in Henley. The first was a fire in a flat which started in the Malthouse building off New Street where five residents were made homeless afterwards because of fire damage. The second was a flat in Duke Street above Sole Man which was caused by something left on the stove.
Bled in Slovenia officially became twinned with Henley in April at a special meeting of the Town Council when Mayor, Councillor Liz Hodgkin and the Mayor of Bled, Mr Janez Fajfar signed the charter and exchanged gifts.
Henley Ladies 1st XVI Hockey team won the EHB National Trophy beating locals Sonning in the final.
There was glorious weather for the Round Table May Fair this year and hundreds turned up for this great event. James Fox, 3 was crowned the May Fair King and Matilda Macartney, aged 6 who attends Rupert House school was crowned the May Fair Queen by the Mayor. Ferret Racing proved popular with the crowds.
The biggest crowd seen at Dry Leas saw the Henley Hawks be crowned champions of Division 2 South and get promoted.
The new Mayor, Stefan Gawrysiak was elected in May and his address embraced the town’s motto of ‘Always Community’.
The mural painted at Music on the Meadows ‘Here Comes the Sun’ really did reflect the weather and this special new event which was given Olivia Harrison’s blessing. Thousands came out to listen to the fantastic music from local musicians in the sunshine.
The Ama mermaid was officially unveiled on newly refurbished Red Lion Lawn. It has been donated to the town by the Noor Foundation. The Henley Ama is the only one located in England and has a plaque engraved with her location and her coordinates.
Dave Eggleton from Gainsborough Road launches makeover of the Gainsborough estate by getting sponsorship for two flower beds at the entrance.
The Coronation River Pageant included 80 boats which were beautifully decorated with bunting, flags, crowns, dressing up and many of the passengers wore Royal family masks.
This year’s Regatta saw the biggest opening day crowds and the sun shone for whole five days. Andrew Triggs Hodge stroked Great Britain to a record-busting win in the Grand Challenge Cup for the men’s eights.
Henley Festival saw five nights of fantastic music from the Beach Boys, Jamie Cullum, Madness the London Symphony Orchestra and Palloma Faith. This was to the be last Festival at the Regatta site announced in May but in October the organisers made another announcement to say that they had reached an agreement with Henley Regatta to stay.
The first Regal on the River event was sold out. The showed three films; ‘Jaws’, ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Some Like it Hot’ were shown on a big screen in Mill Meadows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.
Mr Peter Redding of Gallowstree Common lost his life when he tried to swim across the river in Henley after he had been out with friends celebrating on a Friday night.
The sixth Henley Fringe once again offered something for everyone including drama, comedy and music took place in July.
The hanging baskets in Henley caught the eye of the BBC One Show and they came to film some really special ones on Swiss Farm and on the Gainsborough estate.
The Rewind Festival saw thousands of fans descend on Henley again this year all dressed up in their 80s gear. The festival is renowned for its wacky costumes which just seem to get better every year.
Traffic chaos was once again big news in Henley in August. New Street was closed for 3 weeks and the Wargrave Road had big impact on the town.
A bottle of Thames water was taken from deep in the Gloucestershire Hills to Sea Reach at the mouth of the Thames Estuary for the inaugural Source to Sea River Relay. It passed through Henley on 9 September accompanied by Henley Rowing Club and on the launch Lady Genevieve.
Another new event for this year saw Last Night of the Proms come to St Mary’s Church. A live feed from the Royal Albert Hall was shown after a fantastic first half performance by the Henley Symphony Orchestra.
The Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan was launched in September. Residents have volunteered to be on different working groups including housing and transport.
The sun also shone on the fourth Regatta for the Disabled which saw some great dragon boat racing from local teams as well as some great stalls and activities including boat trips and Punch & Judy.
Over 1400 athletes took part in the half or full Challenge Henley Triathlon including Olympic pole-vaulter Nick Buckfield. The road closures still caused controversy and shortly afterwards the organisers announced they would be moving the race to Weymouth next year.
Rupert House School won a Level 5 RHS Award for Campaign for School Gardening 2013. Only the fifth school in the London and Thames Valley area to receive this award.
Henley Show unfortunately didn’t have very good weather this year. However despite this the crowds still enjoyed the dog shows, falconry displays and ferret racing.
Henley in Bloom were delighted to win Gold again in the Regional competition of Britain in Bloom and were put forward for the Nationals where they won a Silver Gilt, narrowly missing out on Gold in October. Henley has been selected to represent the Thames & Chiltern Region in the National RHS In Bloom competition again next year.
Gainsborough Residents Association organised a charity Auction of Promises and Raffle to raise money for five local charities. Top auction bid was a box set of Beatles Albums donated by Olivia Harrison which went for £265 and was one by Matthew Bunton.
From Stella Rimington on the Monday to Robert Harris on Sunday, this year’s Henley Literary Festival was the most successful yet, with record attendance and coverage in national print and broadcast media.
In the pouring rain on a Sunday morning nearly 2,000 runners turned out to run the Henley Half Marathon and the 10K run. Teams from Sacred Heart and Valley Road schools took part to raise lots of money for their schools.
In October Oxfordshire County Council announced that it was planning to shut down many of its children’s centres as part of budget cuts which included the Rainbow Centre at the D:Two in Henley. Emma Taylor from Henley then started a campaign to save it including a petition and a kidz demo. On Friday 9 December came news that it was saved.
The 7th Sue Ryder Woman of Achievement Awards saw Henley scoop two of these. Naomi Vallance won Performer of the Year and the Junior U16 quad from Henley Rowing Club – Hattie Orr, Ellie Thompson, Maddie Orr, Lauren Edwards and cox Emma Lister won the young achievers of the year which was presented to them by Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger.
Millie’s Dream campaign was launched in September to provide every Henley primary school with a life-saving defibrillator. In November Mayor, Stefan Gawrysiak presented the first one to Rupert House School.
Henley’s Remembrance service and parade again this year saw ex service associations, the Service Cadet Corps joined by other local organisations and associations including the St John’s Ambulance, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and Brownies and Guides from Henley.
The Henley World War One Remembrance Association received an £8200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “Lest We Forget : Each one was some mother’s son”. The project’s main focus is to research and commemorate all the men from Henley and the surrounding villages who gave their lives during and as a direct result of the First World War, including those whose story has remained untold until now. The research will be used to produce complete memorial plaques, a virtual book available in the Town Hall Information Office with searchable public access, as well as a 200 page printed book.
The first Jazz & Blues Week opened on Friday 8 November at the Little Angel Pub with Papa George and Mick Moody (ex Whitesnake) performing a JJ Cale tribute set. The ten-day long event was held in and sponsored by Brakspear venues around Henley.
The typhoon which hit the Philippines in November got the Henley community out in support and organising fundraising events and initiatives including selling felt ribbons by five Valley Road School girls, Mike Read hosting a Music Quiz night at the Chocolate Café and Jayson Jaurigue, Managing Director Eight Ray Music organising a Rays of Hope concert at the River & Rowing Museum.
A river of Santa hats were seen on Sunday 8 December at the Santa Fun Run organised by the Henley Lions. Mayor, Stefan Gawrysiak who organised the event, rode the course on his trusted bike!
Every evening up to Christmas the Living Advent Calendar opened its doors to a different performance at a different venue. Having won a Towns Alive award earlier in the year, Julie Perigo was delighted to learn that this fantastic community initiative had won a PM’s Big Society Award too in December.
What a fantastic end to a brilliant year. Here’s to 2014!