Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Teenager puts Mayor on the spot

IT was meant to be afternoon tea with the Mayor and Mayoress in the peaceful surroundings

IT was meant to be afternoon tea with the Mayor and Mayoress in the peaceful surroundings of the town hall but Kiri Cheesman had other ideas... she was determined to put Henley’s first citizen on the spot.

The 13-year-old Gillotts School pupil won the prize in the shopfront treasure hunt competition that took place just before Christmas.

But Kiri doesn’t like tea or coffee and rather than swap niceities with Councillor Matin Akehurst and his wife Glynnis, she decided to ask the Mayor about what is on offer for young people in Henley.

Kiri, whose wants to be a film director, asked how children can get involved with the council and about the closure of Henley Youth Centre.

“I naturally like to ask questions and find out about things,” she said. “One of the things I asked was how students at Gillotts can get involved with the town council. I’d quite like to do something like this when I’m older. It was brilliant. I got hot chocolate and learned about the town and its history.”

The Mayor said: “Kiri and I spent a long time talking about how pupils can get involved in the town. We also talked about the youth centre and it’s a great shame that has closed.

“I wish we could get more schoolchildren in to do things like this. We are always happy to have schools come in, where the children can sit round our meeting table and ask questions.”

Kiri lives in Bix with parents Dawn, an illustrator, and Naunton, a project manager, both 46, and siblings Nico, 15, Dino, 12, Enzo, 11, and Starr, nine.

When the family found out Kiri had won the prize, Mrs Cheesman was worried because she doesn’t drink tea or coffee.

She said: “Kiri asked me â??what am I going to do, mum?’ and we came up with her questions. I think the Mayor thought Kiri would ask to see the offices and be told about Henley but she didn’t do that at all. She had all sorts of questions to ask him and his wife and I think it was a really nice change for them.

“The Mayoress was delighted with the change because she got to have cake and hot chocolate. Kiri had questions to ask her as well as she wanted to involve her.”

Kiri, who was head girl at Sacred Heart Primary School, curtsied for the Mayor and Mayoress when she arrived.

Mrs Cheesman said: “She came away and said how nice the Mayor was. He listened to her and his wife was really nice too. The scary thing is not knowing what people are going to be like but she came away thinking she could be quite brave. I think she’s going to be a speaker or ambassador in the future.”

Kiri wasn’t the only member of the Cheesman family to win a prize in the treasure hunt as her brothers and sister bagged a gift ranging from toy vouchers to a tennis racquet.

Mrs Cheesman said: “For the competition they had to visit shops in Henley and get a sticker from each one. Yeuk in Friday Street was one of the places so the boys had their sights set on winning a skateboard but unfortunately none of them did.

“I got a call from the town hall and was told my children had won some prizes. I thought fantastic, maybe one or two but then she said it was four!

“I was thinking to myself â??crikey, one hasn’t won anything, I’ll have to do something with him’.

“Then they rang again and said Dino had won a prize too so it was all five of them! They were over the moon and they’ve got the bug for doing competitions now.”

If that wasn’t enough, Mrs Cheesman won gardening vouchers in a recent Mother’s Day competition in the Henley Standard after she was entered by Kiri. She donated the vouchers to her mother as a Mother’s Day gift.

Mr and Mrs Cheesman first met while at Gillotts School as teenagers.

They sat next to each other in physics lessons taught by former Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, who has recently returned to teaching part-time at the school.

Mrs Cheesman said:“It’s strange as he’s now teaching our children. We still call him â??Sir’ if we see him in the street.”

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