ORGANISERS of the regatta fireworks say this year’s display will be the last in its present form.
They say the annual display has become too costly since it was stopped from being held on royal regatta land in 2009.
The display was saved by Billy Pinches with the help of Henley Lions and Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, in 2010.
For the last four years, it has been held at Mr Pinches’ Meadows Farm Field, off Marlow Road, but the organisers say this has increased the cost. In a letter to this week’s Henley Standard, Lady McAlpine says: “Because the fireworks can no longer be let off on regatta land, they have to be set up far too far away from the town.
“Therefore, to be seen from the town, the fireworks have to be higher than usual, resulting in much higher costs. Obviously the greater the cost of the fireworks, the less there is in the pot for the charities who should be benefiting.”
She says the regatta doesn’t see any reason to contribute to the cost even though it “clearly benefits” from the display.
Lady McAlpine adds: “So tomorrow’s will be the last ‘regatta fireworks’ unless they can be let off closer to the town and unless more sponsorship is available. Billy says that next year he will do a normal height display on his land. Obviously, this is a decision that has not been taken lightly. We tried very hard but, sadly, the regatta committee has won.
“Those of us old enough are left with the wonderful memories of being able to walk across the river on the boats gathered in front of the stewards’ enclosure on Saturday evening as the whole ‘party’ waited for the fireworks. I’m so glad I am old enough to have been there.”
Tomorrow display at Meadows Farm will start at 10.30pm but people will be able to access the site and park from 11am. Entry is free but donations are encouraged. There will be music, a bar, a hog roast, ice creams, sweets stall and games.
Since the new committee took over running the display it has raised more than £10,000 for charity.
The regatta declined to comment.