Saturday, 18 September 2021

Regatta fireworks find new home

THE Henley Summer Fireworks have been saved

THE Henley Summer Fireworks have been saved.

A new venue has been found after Billy Pinches, who has hosted the display at Meadows Farm since 2010, pulled out as he is leaving the area.

The fireworks will now be launched from the hillside overlooking Temple Island Meadows, Remenham, which serves as the entrance to the Rewind festival site.

The Copas Partnership, which owns the land, gave permission at the request of Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, who is a long-standing supporter of the event.

It says it will consider a long-term arrangement as long as there are no problems this year.

At a full meeting on Tuesday night, Henley Town Council agreed to donate up to £3,000 towards this year’s £10,000 running costs.

This means the display is certain to proceed as volunteers have already raised more than £6,000 since launching an appeal earlier this month.

Councillor Will Hamilton, one of the campaigners, said: “We will have the most fantastic red, white and blue fireworks this summer thanks to the generosity of the people of this town.”

Councillor Martin Akehurst, who proposed the grant, said: “It’s very important that the fireworks can be seen from anywhere in the town, not just the stewards’ enclosure.

“The display has always served as a ‘thank-you’ to residents for putting up with the disruption and we should make [the money] available for it to go ahead.”

Lady McAlpine said the site was suggested by Fantastic Fireworks, which provides the display, during the search for a new home.

She said it was ideal as it would be visible from a great distance.

“There literally was nowhere for us to go,” she said. “I thought I was making progress in persuading the regatta to let us use their land but they ultimately decided against it.

“I wondered if we might use a barge or even the Thamesfield site, off Wargrave Road, but that has too many tall trees.

“At one point we all looked up and said ‘gosh, if only we could use that hill’ and the guys said it would be perfect because everyone would be able to see it.

“I realised it must belong to Copas so I phoned them and they agreed, which was a great relief. On Tuesday I believed we had failed and that the fireworks wouldn’t happen after all and now we are full steam ahead.”

There has been a fireworks display on the Saturday night of the regatta for at least a century. It used to be held on the regatta’s land but was moved off after the summer of 2008.

It didn’t happen in 2009 but Mr Pinches revived it the following year with help from Lady McAlpine. The event was registered as a charity and proceeds were given to good causes in the area.

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