A RIVER pageant will take place in Henley this summer to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
The event, which will feature around 130 boats, will take place on Sunday, June 2.
Jan Beyts, who chairs the organising committee, says that she wants the event to be bigger and better than the pageant she organised as part of the diamond jubilee celebrations last June.
She said: “We have got a lot of stuff in the pipeline and this time we will be doing it as a charity event.
“We feel we have the ability to make something good out of it as well as having fun and have chosen a river-based charity, which is local to Henley.
“The feedback last year from the town council to the public and participants was so positive and we feel we have the makings of a really good and big Henley event.”
More than 90 decorated boats took part in last year’s pageant and hundreds of people gathered in Mill Meadows to see the spectacle.
Others watched from Henley Bridge and the river banks and many waved Union flags.
Some of the participants dressed up as members of the royal family and Mrs Beyts’ ex-husband Ian, a Winston Churchill lookalike, waved to the crowds from his boat, Sir Winston.
Town councillor Will Hamilton, who took part on his boat Topsilk, said: “It’s absolutely right that 60 years after the coronation there is a celebration. We need to make absolutely sure that there are more flags this year than last.
“This really will be a splendid occasion. It brings people together — boat owners, river lovers and people from far afield.”
Henley MP John Howell, who watched last year’s pageant from Henley Bridge, said: “The river is an important part of the town so to see a parade of boats is a great thing for the town but, more importantly, it’s great fun.”
The pageant took place a day before the much larger one in London and included 20 slipper boats, 10 open launches, 10 cruisers, an umpire’s launch, three steamboats, two Canadian canoes, skiffs, gigs, rowboats and eight character boats, including a paddle wheeler and a Cornish ferryboat. Mrs Beyts, from Lower Assendon, wants to attract an even wider range this time.
She said: “We hope and expect to increase the number of participating boats, mostly picking up those who are local and who took their boat down to the London pageant last year.
“We are hoping for some different craft this time and a few more antique boats. It will be classic and traditional and people can apply if they want to take part.
“The criteria will be boats of traditional construction and a limited number of character craft. The theme will be Her Majesty’s coronation.”
The boats will be moored at Marsh Meadows and then travel upstream to Phyllis Court Club before returning.
Last year’s armada travelled from Temple Island Meadows to Marsh Meadows before making another circuit of Henley and mooring at Marsh Meadows.
The organising committee is hoping to attract sponsorship from local businesses.
For more information, email Mrs Beyts at firstname.lastname@example.org