Sunday, 17 December 2017

Living Advent to have 'greater' community feel

THE organiser of the Henley Living Advent Calendar says there will be an even greater community feel this year.

Richard Rodway, who is chairing the seventh annual charity fund-raiser, is delighted to welcome back venues including the Kenton Theatre and Henley Rugby Club.

The event involves 24 half-hour performances by singers, dancers and other acts each evening from December 1 to Christmas Eve at various venues.

The identity of each performer is kept secret until they actually appear, just like opening a door on an advent calendar.

Each night will be dedicated to one charity, which will be able to publicise its work and hold a bucket collection. There will also be a raffle with prizes.

Mr Rodway, a partner at the Head Partnership in Henley, said: “We are involving an even greater cross section of the Henley community, and encouraging them to work even closer with us than before.

“I am hugely delighted that the Kenton Theatre is back in a big way, which includes them hosting one of the nights.

“We are also back at the Henley Rugby club this year and we also hope to have something special at the Hart and Bell surgeries.”

He added: “More people are looking at taking ownership of their nights because they want to make it a great success and that just heightens the enthusiasm for the event.”

As in previous years, each venue will be partnered with a business or other organisation. All the venues are either in or a short walk from the town centre and will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Mr Rodway has filled many of the performance spots and is looking to secure the few remaining acts.

“They should be local as possible as it is an event put on by local people for local people,” he said. “Over the last six years now we have had lots of different performers and we know what works and what doesn’t. There will be the usual eclectic mix of performers.”

He says he likes the venues to take ownership of their night as their enthusiasm for it creates some of the event’s best moment.

Mr Rodway said: “It is a collaborative event and offers a way of making people feel a part of it. This year, Trinity Church, the d:two centre, River & Rowing Museum and the Kenton Theatre are all taking ownership of their night and will put on something special.”

Last year’s calendar raised a total of £5,200 over the course of the three-and-a-half weeks of festive entertainment, beating last year’s record by £200.

Mr Rodway added: “The fact that year on year we are raising more and more money than ever before is a good sign of our success. This, along with inspiring people abroad to come here and also to write about us is a good barometer for what an enjoyable and fun event it is and 2017 will be more of the same.”

Meanwhile, the theme for this year’s Christmas window display competition is “Christmas around the world”. Businesses must create a festive display fitting with the theme and they must be ready for judging by 10.30am on December 4.

The competition is run by Carolyn Molyneux, who runs Delegate Conference Services, of Hart Street.

Entrants will have to collect an item to display in the window from the company’s office to show they are entering, but this is still to be confirmed.

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