Sunday, 26 September 2021

Hundreds attend new house and garden show in Henley

THE first ever Henley House and Garden Show has been hailed a success.

THE first ever Henley House and Garden Show has been hailed a success.

Thousands of people attended the two-day event which took place at several venues in the town centre at the weekend and involved more than 50 traders.

Organiser Niki Schäfer, an interior designer, of Walton Avenue, Henley, says she would now like the show to become an annual event.

A large marquee was erected in Market Place where businesses displayed art and sculptures, indoor and outdoor furniture, decorations, tiling, flooring and other luxury goods.

There were more stalls in the town hall and talks by guest speakers, including interior designer Julia Kendell, who has appeared on the BBC?s DIY SOS and ITV?s 60 Minute Makeover. Nick Knowles, the presenter of DIY SOS, was due to appear but had to pull out due to filming commitments.

One of the highlights of the show was a fashion show in the marquee on Saturday evening in aid of the Chiltern Centre for disabled children.

It was compered by BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Mike Read, who lives in Henley, while the models included local personalities and sports men and women.

One by one, the models paraded along a ?catwalk? made of artificial turf carrying items of furniture and furnishings donated by exhibitors.

They included Mayor Martin Akehurst, who was draped in a Turkish rug from Hali Hali, of Dunsden.

Read told the spectators: ?It?s a slightly bohemian look but it goes well with his trousers. I?m sure that will be worn in the Mayor?s parlour next week!?

Ms Kendell took to the stage with flowers and two silk cushions donated by Life At Nettlebed. Read urged her to slow down as she walked, saying she was ?like Usain Bolt?.

The presenter replied: ?I?m really sorry ? I?m just pleased I didn?t do a Madonna and fall over!?

Former GB skier Graham Bell, who lives in New Street, Henley, stepped out in full skiing gear, including a hat, snow visor and gloves. He carried a designer bath tap by Outhouse Bathrooms, also from Dunsden.

Amber Martin, 16, a student at The Henley College who lives in Western Avenue, modelled a dress and hat festooned with ivy, ferns and mixed flowers contributed by event florist Floral Circus, of Benson.

Paralympic rower Naomi Riches carried a decorative wooden blade made by Boatique, of Friday Street, Henley.

Jeremy Laming, founder of the Henley Swim, carried a small wooden side table by the Good Shelf Company, of Greys Green, above his head. He was wearing a blue swimming singlet and tracksuit trousers with flip-flops, swimming goggles and a green swimming cap.

Former model Angie Best, who runs the Metaphysical gym at Henley Business School, paraded with a wooden candelabra by Cristo Designs, of Henley.

Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, walked with an abstract painting made by young people at the Chiltern Centre in Greys Road.

She was accompanied by Sally Webb, director of community art project Connect 2 Colour, who helped the youngsters to create it.

The work featured splashes of multi-coloured paint on a white block canvas in the style of Jackson Pollock. Read began auctioning it but bids did not reach the minimum required figure of £500 so buyers are now being invited to make offers directly to the centre.

After the show, the former Radio1 DJ said: ?I really enjoyed introducing everyone on the catwalk ? it was a bit of fun and really brought the whole town together. There are lots of regular events in Henley but it?s nice to have one that puts the retailers at the centre of attention.?

Earlier in the day, there were cookery demonstrations in the marquee.

Chef Shaun Dickens, who runs The Boathouse restaurant in Station Road, and sous chef James Walshaw made chocolate ganache and pté de fruit topped with chopped hazelnuts and dessicated coconut. Mr Dickens said: ?Niki has worked incredibly hard to pull this together and it?s yet another addition to the list of great events in Henley. It?s much bigger than I?d expected and the exhibitors have really gone to town with their displays.?

Award-winning garden designer Ana Marie Bull, from Shiplake, set up a stall with plants and a television showing footage of her best creations.

Mrs Bull, who helped Mrs Schäfer to organise the gardening side of the event, said: ?It was fantastic. There were people coming through the doors from the minute they opened.

?There was a real buzz about the place. It?s great for Henley to have such a high calibre of exhibitors coming in and I can see it becoming an annual event. People who haven?t come this year will soon realise they?ve missed out so I?m sure it will attract even more people next time.

?It was great timing, too, because this is when people start thinking about new projects for their homes and gardens.?

Fred Nickson, of Chiltern Antiques in Henley, was selling postboxes dating back to the Victorian era. One example dating back to the reign of George VI was going for more than £1,800.

Mr Nickson said: ?We had lots of interest and I sold quite a few. People are very interested in old postboxes because they make a great safe.?

Members of Henley Young Farmers parked a John Deere tractor in Market Place and were collecting money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Passers-by could photograph themselves inside the vehicle in exchange for a donation. Organiser Lawry Taylor, from Nuffield, said: ?The tractor drew a lot of attention.?

In the town hall pop-up tea room Time For Tea was selling hot drinks and cakes from the stage in the main hall. Owner Charlotte Cavanagh, from Harpsden, said: ?The organisers have done an absolutely splendid job. It?s really well-attended and is bringing something a bit different to Henley.?

The Quince Tree café and delicatessen at Stonor was selling cakes, savoury pastries and kitchenware.

Events co-ordinator Hannah Watkins-Lewis said: ?We had a lot of customers who didn?t know about us before but are now going to come and visit. The show was great fun and it was definitely worth coming.? Ms Kendell, who used to live in Henley, gave a talk on Saturday afternoon about trends in kitchen design and making the best use of space.

Afterwards, she said: ?It?s amazing to see so many people here. The fact that the show is so well attended is a testament to all the effort that has gone into organising it. It?s brilliant for a first year and I look forward to coming back for year two.?

Rob Heginbotham, a former director of rugby at Henley Hawks, stepped in as the announcer in the marquee in place of Nick Knowles while town councillor Pam Phillips introduced the speakers.

The Old Fire Station Gallery hosted workshops on restoring or ?upcycling? old furniture and art. These were hosted by Lynne Lambourne, of Henley design company Love Nellie, and High Wycombe firm Out of the Dark.

Visitors could also follow a ?design trail? around the town centre in which almost 40 businesses participated..

Mrs Schäfer said she couldn?t believe how well the show went.

?We had several thousand visitors on what is ordinarily quite a dull late February weekend,? she said. ?The show brought a lot of chatter, fun and inspiration so it achieved what I wanted. ?The exhibitors are delighted, the sponsors are really happy and I?m genuinely thrilled.

?There were so many amazing things on display and some stallholders had sold items before the show had even officially opened. The fashion show was hilarious. It was just one of those crazy ideas and I wasn?t sure whether it would work but the Henley celebrities pulled themselves together beautifully with Mike Read?s direction. Everyone was fantastic and it was really, really fun. ?I?m being asked a lot about next year so I have to sit and think about how and if it would work a second time.

?We need to think about how it can grow given the layout of Henley and what other people want from it.?

• To make an offer for the Chiltern Centre painting, call the charity on (01491) 575575.

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