Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Living Advent Calendar to work with other groups

THE organiser of the Henley Living Advent Calendar says it will offer a little bit extra this year.

THE organiser of the Henley Living Advent Calendar says it will offer a little bit extra this year.

Richard Rodway, who is chairing the sixth annual charity fund-raiser, wants to encourage audiences to become more involved with the town’s other Christmas festivities.

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

Mr Rodway, a partner at the Head Partnership in Henley, said: “After each performance you can see on social media that people have seen a performance and enjoyed it.

“But there have been occasions where we have been doing something when other things are going on too so with this year’s programme we have tried to complement each other.”

An example will be on Sunday, December 11 when a new shopping event will be held from 11am to 4pm and that evening’s Living Advent Calendar performance will take place in Falaise Square.

Mr Rodway said: “I have also spoken to the town council and, rather than conflicting with what is going on with the Christmas Festival, our events are far more joined up.

“It is about adding a little bit extra. It was the purpose of the event in the first place to try to make Henley a winter destination as well as a summer one.”

On December 14, the calendar event will take place at The Henley College as there will also be a festive event on the Gainsborough estate nearby.

“I’ve put our event at these venues so it’s not far for the audiences to walk to,” said Mr Rodway. “Over the last couple of years I have had people asking me about some good places to eat and other things to do. I doubt anyone will come into Henley just for a 30-minute performance but they might if there are other things to do.”

Last year’s calendar raised more than £5,000 but Mr Rodway hopes to beat that figure this time by having a different charity for each night and more indoor venues, including Magoos bar in Hart Street and Trinity Church.

He said: “It would be nice to raise more money because that in itself is a barometer of success, as is footfall.”

Mr Rodway said: “Having adjusted the performance times and how we work with the charities, it is difficult to go for anything that’s different without fundamentally changing the event. What it is, is organised busking, so it is difficult to make any more changes.”

The full list of venues for this year is as follows: 1 Town hall; 2 Friday Street; 3 Leander Club; 4 Phyllis Court; 5 Angel on the Bridge; 6 Hotel du Vin; 7 The New Orleans, off Station Road; 8 Handlesbanken; 9 Town hall; 10 Henley fire station; 11 Falaise Square; 12 Magoos, Hart Street; 13 Simmons & Son, Bell Street; 14 The Henley College; 15 Trinity Church; 16 Town hall; 17 Falaise Square; 18 d:two, off Market Place; 19 Henley Cricket Club; 20 River and Rowing Museum; 21 Christ Church, off Reading Road; 22 Delegate House, off Hart Street; 23 Market Place; 24 St Mary’s Church.

Higgs Group, publisher of the Henley Standard, is the main sponsor of the event. Other sponsors include the Head Partnership solicitors, CTC-aspire and Philip Booth. The Henley Business Partnership and Henley Town Council are also supporting it.

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