THE founder of Henley’s award-winning Living Advent Calendar is going to work in Spain.
Julie Perigo, who launched the fund-raising entertainments initiative in 2011, plans to spend up to five years in Barcelona and hopes to return to teaching there.
She and her husband Dan Dumitrescu will leave around Easter time.
Before going to Spain, they will spend six months in the Indian state of Rajasthan where Mrs Perigo will teach at Mayo College, a boys’ boarding school known as the “Eton of India”.
The couple, who came to Henley in 2008, will keep their flat in Station Road as they plan to return.
They have both lived and worked around the world and met in Australia when they both worked at Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruitment firm.
Ms Perigo runs Career Gateway Academy, which helps graduates to find jobs, and chairs the Henley Partnership.
Mr Dumitrescu has a portfolio of business interests and is a qualified kinesiology practitioner.
Ms Perigo said: “We’ve both lived in a number of different countries and about the middle of last year we both thought we had one more ‘foreign posting’ in us.
“We both speak Spanish and love Spain so we decided to give Barcelona a go. We are lucky that our work can be done from pretty much anywhere.”
She announced her departure following the end of the third annual Living Advent Calendar but says it will continue under a new main organiser.
Ms Perigo came up with the idea after seeing a similar event in Stockholm. Each evening in the run-up to Christmas, local performers stage 15-minute shows at different venues. Performances range from music and dance to drama, poetry and storytelling and the artists’ identities are kept secret until the night. All events are free to watch and there are collections and raffles in aid of local charities. The costs are covered by sponsorship from local businesses.
In three years, the event has raised more than £10,000 for 10 charities including Sue Ryder, the Chiltern Centre for disabled children, the Henley Day Centre, Kenton for Keeps and the Face of Henley.
Last year, the calendar won Prime Minister David Cameron’s Big Society Award and a Towns Alive award from Action for Market Towns.
Ms Perigo said: “It has been huge fun bringing the Living Advent Calendar to the UK and I’m delighted that our version has won so many awards.
“After three years it is probably a good time to move on and hand over the reins to other people with new ideas.
“In due course we hope people won’t just associate Henley with the royal regatta but with the Living Advent Calendar too.”
This year’s Living Advent Calendar raised £4,054, which will be shared between Henley Youth Centre, the Henley Regatta for the Disabled, the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and Oceans Project.