Saturday, 25 September 2021

Thousands join in with Henley Youth Festival

MORE than 2,000 children and young people took part in the 22nd Henley Youth Festival.

MORE than 2,000 children and young people took part in the 22nd Henley Youth Festival.

The arts and sports extravaganza, which is run entirely by volunteers, included 43 workshops, competitions and performances over nine days.

The writing competition alone attracted a record 300 entries and hundreds of children took part in the Stonor Run, which was cancelled last year due to bad weather.

Festival co-chairwoman Kate Swinburne Johnson said: ?You sometimes hear the opinion that there aren?t enough opportunities for children and young people in Henley or that the town or businesses don?t care enough about them. We think HYF proves it cares a huge amount.

?More than 60 volunteers, parents and professionals in many fields, from presentation skills to photography, from stage management to film production, authors and journalists to dancers, have all given their time freely to help young people discover new skills and do the best they can.

?Pulling together, the town has offered every single young person in Henley a new opportunity through HYF ? building confidence and motivation that goes way beyond festival week. I?m not sure a town can do much more than that.?

Co-chairwoman Jo Dickson said: ?Every child in Henley is able to experience something original and exciting that their school would not normally be able to provide.?

Youngsters aged three to 18 took part in performances at the Kenton Theatre ? HYF Proms, Entertain, Dance and Sing. There was also a new event, HYF Young Dancer, for primary school children.

Almost all were sold out and parents had to share tickets to make sure they could see their children perform.

There were more than 600 entries to the competitions, half of which were for the writing competition, which was judged by Binfield Heath author Amanda Jennings. There were more than 150 entries from Valley Road School alone.

The prize-giving was held at the Bell Bookshop, which also provided the prizes.

Mrs Jennings said: ?This is my third year of judging and every year I?m blown away by the local talent. It?s really heartening to see local children putting so much into their writing and how they present their ideas is really exciting.?

Sarah Bell, who organises the competition, said: ?I?m really pleased with the amount of entries. It starts off very slow with a few individual entries and then at the last minute the schools come in with bags and bags of stuff.?

Work submitted for the art, photography and film competitions was displayed at Henley Youth Centre for two days and prizes were awarded in several age categories. There were entries from more than 140 youngsters, aged four to 18. There was also artwork on display produced by schools in the festival workshops, which included creating self-portraits, an animation mix-up and making carnival headdresses.

The entries were judged by Patricia Jordan Evans, director of the Bohun Gallery in Reading Road.

Children entering films were awarded special ?Oscars? for their work for the first time.

Other workshops included a look at A Midsummer Night?s Dream with Young Shakespeare, a dance workshop by Dance Design, a science workshop in the inflatable Explorer Dome and a journey around unusual orchestral instruments by Travelling By Tuba.

The in-school workshops were funded almost entirely by the Henley Educational Trust and Henley Decorative and Fine Arts Society with support from Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

The Stonor Run, which is sponsored by the Henley Standard, took place in the grounds of Gillotts School.

Hundreds of children representing their schools took part and there were prizes for individuals and teams.

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