Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Buy local... it’s good for business and the planet

A WOMAN has launched a campaign to promote produce from the Henley area.

A WOMAN has launched a campaign to promote produce from the Henley area.

Love Henley will be holding a Christmas fair at Hotel du Vin on Sunday to showcase local businesses.

It is being organised by Alison Hussey, from Mill End, who also wants to highlight how buying locally is good for the environment.

She said: “One of my main passions is sustainability and I think we all have to be more responsible for the impact we’re making on the planet.

“I’m a huge fan of buying locally. I love Henley and I think it’s very quirky. A lot of people who visit only see one side to it, which is the regatta.

“It’s world famous and brilliant but I’ve realised through living here when looking for local produce myself that there are a lot of hidden gems.

“I wanted to start something to help promote that and celebrate how great a lot of things in Henley are.”

Ms Hussey, a freelance management consultant who works in the music and entertainment industry, believes independent retailers are suffering because shoppers are attracted to chain stores and supermarkets.

“I find it very disconcerting and upsetting that we’ve got so many empty shops in Henley,” she said.

“We’re very lucky around here that it’s a relatively well-off area and it’s a shame there’s not more celebrating what we’re producing ourselves.

“Otherwise I just see the power of the big shops and multinationals just taking over the streets and taking away the quirky and skilled craft and local producers.”Ms Hussey said many local farms offered high-quality produce but didn’t have a sales outlet.

“It’s a shame when even places like the village shop don’t stock the local farm produce,” she said.

“I want to give them a vehicle where they can reach out to a different market. There’s an incredible mix of talent around Henley and I want everyone to have an opportunity to try some of these things.Perhaps this would stop people buying further afield and that would cut down on petrol and CO2 emissions. It just seems like a win-win situation to me.”

The fair is aimed at families and will have about 20 stalls selling art, crafts, food, drink, gifts, jewellery and clothes. Visitors can have brunch and there will be mulled wine, hot chocolate and chestnuts on sale.

Businesses taking part include the Quince Tree pub, which sells local produce in its café and shop in Stonor, the Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery in Hambleden and jeweller Julia Lacey.

Andrew Tucker, who owns the In the Groove record shop, will play a DJ set and Sam Brown, from Sonning Common, will give workshops on how to play the ukulele while Jo Wise, from Green and Gorgeous in Little Stoke, will teach visitors how to make a Christmas wreath.

There will also be a raffle with prizes provided by local businesses in aid of the Millie’s Dream appeal, which is raising £15,000 to equip 10 schools with a defibrillator.

Ms Hussey would like to hold events four times a year to coincide with the seasons.

She said: “I will have workshops at each event because that’s what they’re about. It will start as a seasonal market and then I would like to do more events celebrating the finest of Henley.

“It’s like taking all these hidden gems of Henley and bringing them into one place at one time and making shopping a fun experience.”

The fair will be opened at 11am by Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and six-year-old Millie Roberts, whose mother Sarah created Millie’s Dream, and will run until 4pm.

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