Sunday, 17 December 2017

Singer Vince Hill offers sculpture to town

SINGER Vince Hill and his wife Annie have offered a sculpture to Henley as a memorial to their son.

Athol Hill, 42, died in his sleep on January 28, less than 48 hours after a car crash on the B481 at Highmooor. More than 200 people attended his funeral in Henley.

His parents, who live in Shiplake, wanted to donate the bronze to the town as a thank-you for its support over the years.

The statue, called Wild Deer Leaping, was made by sculptor Claire Norrington to commemorate the couple’s golden wedding anniversary in 2009. It measures 6ft 6in by 11ft 6in.

Mr Hill, 80, said: “I don’t know how long we have got on this mortal coil so we thought about giving it as a gift to the town in Athol’s name as he is not going to inherit it now.

We have always been very happy in the Henley area since we moved here 35 years ago. The town has been good to us and we thought we would give something back to the community when we pass on.”

The singer, best known for his 1967 hit Edelweiss, added: “The bronze is absolutely beautiful. It is spring - that’s what shouts out at you with three young deer leaping. It will be wonderful for people to see it.”

On Tuesday, members of the town council’s recreation and amenities committee agreed to recommend that the council accepts the offer. Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “I think this is an enormously generous donation - it is a beautiful sculpture and I would like to see it in the flesh. It has my total support as is it brings more art into Henley, which is absolutely brilliant.”

Mayor-elect Martin Akehurst said: “It is an excellent idea. I think more people should be able to see it.”

Councillor Sam Evans said the offer from the Hills was “hugely generous”, adding: “Let’s just find the right spot which fits as it is all about movement and wildlife.”

Councillors suggested a number of possible sites for the statue, including Marsh Meadows, a field at Gillotts School, which Athol Hill attended, and by the bowling green at Mill Meadows.

The Mayor said: “We should come up with three or four sites for us to discuss in the future.”

There was only one dissenting voice. Councillor David Clenshaw, who opposed the mermaid statue that is now in situ at Red Lion Lawn, abstained from the vote.

He said: “My heart sinks at the prospect of getting into another fight about culture in Henley.”

A final decision will be made by the full council on May 6.


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