Monday, 15 August 2022

Review of the year 2015

HENLEY is bidding to be crowned the environmental champion of Europe.

HENLEY is bidding to be crowned the environmental champion of Europe.

The town has been chosen to represent Britain in Entente Florale Europe, an annual competition which seeks to improve the quality of life of different communities.

The contest promotes the “greening” of towns and villages using plants, parks and other outdoor spaces.

The competition was founded in 1975 and is open to 12 nations including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

Two people from Henley have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

Mike Sweeney, 70, was chairman of Henley Royal Regatta for 22 years before becoming its president. He has been made a CBE for services to rowing.

Michael Mogridge, 80, became a volunteer for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association after retiring in 2001 and is now secretary of its Oxfordshire branch. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work supporting armed forces personnel and their families.

A new general admission ticket costing £35 will be introduced at this year’s Henley Festival in a bid to attract more visitors.

The Henley Standard can reveal the new pricing band for the 33rd annual festival, which will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, July 8 to 12.

New festival chief executive Charlotte Geeves said: “What it doesn’t enable you to do is sit in front of the stage, either on the lawn or in the grandstand. Quite a lot of people want to come to the festival but they’re not necessarily interested in watching who’s on stage.”

Organisers are also promising a return to the event’s roots with an evening of classical music on the Friday as well as a weekend of events for families.

Canny rugby players traced a conman who had stolen thousands of pounds worth of valuables from them.

The Henley Hawks’ women’s team used the internet and software on their stolen mobile phones to track down the thief after he accidentally took a photo with one of the devices. The crook struck during the women’s game against Hove Rugby Club in East Sussex.

Most of the visiting players were outside warming up when physiotherapist Louise Carr and a player coach were approached by an “official” from the opposition club while they were still in the changing rooms at Hove recreation ground.

The man said he was locking up and would store the team’s personal possessions for them for safety. Instead, he made off with their two bags full of valuables, including two wedding rings, bracelets, purses containing £200 in cash, about 20 mobile phones and several sets of house and car keys.

The theft was only discovered after the match, which the Hawks won 12-7, when the women returned to the changing rooms.

A painting sold by Lady Hambleden for £3,500 is back on the market for about  £2 million after experts found it was the work of British master John Constable.

It was among valuables sold at auction in summer 2013 at Christie’s in London following the sale of Hambleden Manor after the death of her former husband Viscount Hambleden.

The painting is a preparatory oil on canvas sketch for one of Constable’s most celebrated masterpieces, S alisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, and was valued at between £500 and £800 by Christie’s, which thought it was the work of a “follower”.

A collector bought the sketch for £3,500 and then realised it had been heavily retouched.

It will now be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York on January 29 with an estimate of $2 to $3 million. The 1831 masterpiece itself was bought by the Tate gallery in 2013 for £23.1 million.

Doctors from Henley’s two surgeries have lost the contract to care for patients at Townlands Hospital.

The Bell and Hart practices will no longer carry out GP services and visits to Peppard ward.

When the current contract ends on March 31 it will bring to an end an arrangement which began in the mid-Eighties.


Henley Standard
understands that the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has awarded the new contract to the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Both the foundation trust and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for selecting and funding services at Townlands, would not comment.

Dr Philip Unwin, of the Hart Surgery, said: “It’s the end of an era. This is a hell of a wrench and I am really sad about it.”

A woman whose driving licence was revoked because of a disability that didn’t exist has won it back after taking her case to court.

Georgina Hitchen, 78, from Binfield Heath, says she was “treated worse than a criminal” during her  14-month fight for justice. Her ordeal began after she was involved in a collision with another car in March 2012.

Ms Hitchen was on her way to Waitrose in Henley in her Mercedes C180 when the crash happened at the junction of St Mark’s Road and Vicarage Road.

Eight months later, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency revoked her licence even though she had been examined by two doctors who found no medical reasons for taking her off the road.

The DVLA said its action was due to either the “possible impact” of her lung disease or an undiagnosed medical condition.

Ms Hitchen appealed but this was rejected by Oxford Magistrates’ Court in August. She then took her case to judicial review at the High Court where on Monday she won her licence back.

THE Mayor of Henley has defected to the Conservative Party.

Martin Akehurst is one of two former Henley Residents’ Group councillors making the switch. The other is Dieter Hinke, who chairs the town council’s planning committee.

It comes less than three months after the pair and three other councillors quit HRG, blaming “serious conflict” within the party.

It means the Conservatives will become the ruling group on the council in the run-up to the elections in May for the first time since 2003.

Councillor Akehurst, 67, of Two Tree Hill, Henley, hinted at why he, Cllr Hinke and former mayors Elizabeth Hodgkin, Jeni Wood and Pam Phillips all quit HRG in mid-November to sit as independents. “Fifty per cent of the time we were dealing with relationships within the party,” he said.

A WOMAN who helped save the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley from closure has retired after more than 20 years’ service.

Marian Lee helped start an appeal group after the centre in Greys Road was closed in 2003. She was then interim manager and spearheaded protests which led to the centre being  re-opened the following year.

She continued as manager until last year, when she took a step back and became director of services.

More than 50 people were at the centre on Monday for Mrs Lee’s retirement party, including chairman of trustees Paul Barrett and town councillors Pam Phillips and Stefan Gawrysiak.

A couple from Henley were commissioned to make 1,800 ceramic tiles by hand for the crown prince of Thailand.

Douglas and Janet Watson, of Greys Road, spent a month producing and packing the order and sent it by air mail to the Far East this week.

The couple, who are in their sixties and both lifelong artists, have run the Douglas Watson Studio at Greys Green Business Centre since 1999.

They were emailed in November by crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s designers, who are building him a new palace near Bangkok. They wanted to decorate it in traditional English style and found the company through the internet.

The 62-year-old royal, who is heir apparent to the Thai throne, trained with the British armed forces as a young man and is a noted Anglophile.

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.

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.

A man is living in a tent after being evicted from his home in Henley for antisocial behaviour.

Jamies Marshall has refused offers of help, saying he is happy where he is.

The 37-year-old was forced to leave his housing association flat in Reading Road in December after neighbours complained that he was damaging the property and making noise late at night.

He set up camp close to the Waterman‘s allotments. Firefighters were called to the site at 3am one night after residents reported smoke from a campfire that Mr Marshall had lit to keep warm.

He then moved to a patch of grass near his old home in Reading Road, just yards from passing traffic, and had to put up with rain, sleet and overnight temperatures close to freezing. Mr Marshall, who is unemployed, bought the tent, along with a sleeping bag and boots, using his monthly benefits payments.

The tent has two compartments and Mr Marshall has strengthened the sides with old pieces of trellis he salvaged from a skip.

A Henley footballer who invaded the pitch topless and performed four somersaults during Reading’s FA Cup victory this week says he has no regrets.

Charlie Sumner, who was arrested and then charged by the police, says he got carried away in the excitement of the Royals’ quarter-final replay victory over Bradford City at the Madejski Stadium.

The 20-year-old, who plays for Henley Town, said: “I had the time of my life.”

The number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital in Henley could be cut by around two thirds, the

Henley Standard

can reveal.

Residents were told originally that 18 beds would be included as part of the redevelopment of the site into a £16million “health campus”.

Instead, health chiefs are now considering “buying” about five beds from the  64-bed care home at the new complex, which will be run by the Orders of St John Care Trust. They believe 18 beds would be too many and that they would rarely be full or used by people from the Henley area.

They also want to establish an emergency multi-disciplinary unit, an outreach from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, offering a range of day services.

Dr Andrew Burnett, a senior partner at Sonning Common Health Centre and the south-east Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group locality director, said it would be pointless to have beds that were not “clinically or economically sensible”.

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.

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. We think HYF proves it cares a huge amount.”

HENLEY Royal Regatta will be broadcast for the first time since 1976.

The world’s most famous rowing event will be streamed live online and a daily highlights show will also be available.

The regatta’s committee of management has announced a partnership with Sunset + Vine and YouTube.

More than 250 races across the five days will be covered in high definition and streamed on the royal regatta website and its YouTube channel. The races will also appear on screens in the grandstands within the stewards’ enclosure.

The regatta was last broadcast live in 1968 by the BBC and highlights were last shown on television by ITV in 1976.

Children at Kidmore End Primary School complained that they were being made ill by the conditions of their classroom.

They raised the issue with Henley MP John Howell when he visited the school, complaining that the Sixties wooden building was too small and cold and damp.

The school has since learned that its application to the Church of England’s Diocese of Oxford for funding to replace the classroom has been successful. More than 20 year five pupils wrote to Mr Howell after his visit last month, appealing for help.

Jessica Dippenaar wrote: “We are unhappy with the heating not working because children are getting ill. One of them got pneumonia because of the cold. I know it doesn’t sound serious but it is!”

Gillotts School in Henley has been given the go-ahead to sell one of its playing fields for housing.

The Department for Education has said the academy can dispose of a  3.4-hectare sports pitch to make way for up to 85 homes.

The field on the school’s eastern boundary is one of  11 sites earmarked for development in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan’s second draft.

Governors say the school needs £10million for major refurbishment and selling the land could help raise the money but according to the results of a public consultation on the plan, this is the least popular option.

A volunteer driver for the elderly and a wildlife conservationist have been honoured for their work in the Henley community.

George Leslie and Sally Rankin were awarded the town medal at a special ceremony at the town hall.

Mr Leslie, 86, of St Andrew’s Road, Henley, has spent more than 20 years as chairman of the Henley Volunteer Drivers, which provides transport for elderly people to get to medical and social appointments.

Mrs Rankin, 62, of Coldharbour Close, Henley, founded the Henley Wildlife Group in 1993 after she was approached by the town council to help preserve Mill Meadows when the River and Rowing Museum was built.

The group now organises regular talks, surveys and nature trails and was instrumental in Mill Meadows winning the Green Flag conservation award last year.

A couple have spoken of their anger at a care worker who was jailed for stealing more than £4,000 from their disabled daughter.

Gale Penny Mutton was sentenced to 16 months in prison after admitting taking the money from the bank account of Helen Towner, who lives in assisted housing in Gainsborough Road, Henley.

Mutton, 45, who was known to friends as Penny, was working for Mencap and started caring for Miss Towner in January last year.

She gained the trust of the 44-year-old before convincing her to hand over her bank card and PIN. She then proceeded to withdraw up to £600 a week between April and July.

Mrs Towner and her husband Pete, who live in Makins Road, say their daughter was “devastated” after discovering the fraud and blamed herself.

A 10ft tall wire sculpture has been installed on an entrance roundabout in Henley to complete its transformation.

The figure, designed by artist Rachel Ducker, depicts a woman appearing to be leaping out of water, represented by grass plants.

It is the centerpiece of the new-look roundabout in Reading Road by the entrance to Tesco and is meant to represent Henley as a gateway to a healthy lifestyle.

The £7,000 figure of a woman was the final piece of a design created by landscape designer Paul Terroni to win a competition run by Henley in Bloom.

A COACH at Henley Rowing Club is being investigated by the sport’s governing body over allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” towards junior girls.

The Henley Standard understands that British Rowing is looking at complaints of alleged bullying and favouritism in crew selection.

The independent investigation is also looking at allegations that senior officers at the club were aware of some of the alleged concerns but did not act appropriately to deal with them.

British Rowing has confirmed it has appointed Sports Resolutions, a specialist dispute resolution service, to investigate. It has also taken guidance from Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police.

Henley Rowing Club president John Friend, chairman Jeff Morgan and captain David Lister have all voluntarily stepped down from club duties until further notice. The club has said it will operate as normal.

Henley Rugby Club has launched an appeal to help pay for new changing rooms and a makeover of the clubhouse.

The club needs £600,000 for the redevelopment of Dry Leas, off Marlow Road, and hopes the public will contribute. It hopes to obtain about £400,000 in grants from Henley Town Council, from which it rents the ground, South Oxfordshire District Council, Sport England and the RFU.

The remainder would come from members and public contributions.

The Conservatives have won control of Henley Town Council for the first time in 12 years. They took nine of the 16 seats at last week’s elections, giving them their first elected majority since 2003.

The result reflected the Tories’ victory in the general election in which Henley’s Conservative MP John Howell increased his majority to a record 25,000. The party also celebrated a landslide in the poll for South Oxfordshire District Council.

The other seven town council seats were won by Henley Residents’ Group, which has run the council since 2003 and for all but four of the last 24 years.

The Tories had run the council in the months leading up to the election after two former HRG councillors switched allegiance.

THE Countess of Wessex was upstaged by a three-year-old boy when she visited the Thames Valley air ambulance’s new-look base at RAF Benson.

Lucas Pejkovic, whose life was saved by the ambulance after he fell into a garden pond when he was one, presented a posy to the royal visitor — and then took a swipe at the flowers.

The countess kept a firm grip but then Lucas tried to grab the flowers and was only stopped by his father Tobias, from Culham, who was holding him.

Moments later, the boy plunged his hand into the middle of the posy but, thankfully, it remained intact.

Sophie laughed and attempted to high-five Lucas and the assembled crowd of staff, volunteers, former patients and donors burst into laughter too.

An appeal by a developer to build 110 homes between Henley and Shiplake has been dismissed by a planning inspector.

Claire Engbers wanted to build flats and houses on 5.65 hectares of open land at Thames Farm, off Reading Road, near Shiplake.

She submitted plans that included 40 per cent affordable housing to South Oxfordshire District Council but was refused, so appealed.

Following an eight-day public inquiry, planning inspector Ian Jenkins upheld the original decision, saying the plan was unsustainable.

The new Conservative Mayor of Henley says she is honoured to be the “lady in red”. Lorraine Hillier, a Yorkshirewoman who has been a member of the town council for 16 years, was formally voted into office at the Mayor-making ceremony at the town hall.

Cllr Hillier, 59, of River Terrace, Henley, was elected to the town council in 1999 and served as Deputy Mayor in 2003 but has never been made mayor until now despite four nominations.

A campaign to save the beds at Townlands Hospital is launched by the Henley Standard this week.

Save Our Beds demands that health chiefs stick by their original pledge to have 18 beds in the new £16million “health campus” currently being built.

Instead, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is planning to scrap the 14-bed Peppard ward and pay for the use of just five beds at the care home which is also to be built at the site.

This means that there will be NO beds at all at Townlands for at least six months from November when the existing hospital is prepared for demolition.

After that, the new arrangements will come into effect — unless we make the commissioning group change its mind.

A SOLICITOR from Henley set a world record for cycling the furthest distance in an hour on a vintage child’s bicycle.

Matt Richardson completed just over 69 laps of the Palmer Park stadium in Reading on an original Mark I Raleigh Chopper from 1969. His total distance was 31.87km or 19.8 miles.

Mr Richardson, 49, of Deanfield Avenue, raised more than £4,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, which he was supporting as his father David died of cancer in 1999.

A record number of summer hanging baskets has been sold by Henley in Bloom.

A total of 184 baskets has been bought by shops, businesses and residents, comfortably beating last year’s previous best figure of 171. It is the third year running that the record has been broken.

Town councillor Kellie Hinton, the outgoing chairwoman of Henley in Bloom, said: “It was great when we first set the record but three years in a row is amazing.

“We couldn’t have done it without the businesses, shopkeepers and residents who buy the baskets. Thank you, too, to the

Henley Standard

Cllr Hinton said the display of so many baskets would boost the town’s attempt to win Britain in Bloom at the third attempt and the Entente Florale  competition.

The site of the former Henley Youth Centre is to be sold for £3million to a care home company. The trustees of the Deanfield Avenue centre, which closed last year, have reached an agreement for B&M Care to buy the  0.6 acres of land.

The sale includes a derelict plot behind the centre which is owned by The Henley College.

The proceeds will be split between the Thamesfield Youth Association and the college with the former receiving a slightly larger share.

B&M Care, which operates more than 20 care homes in the South and Midlands, was chosen from 27 bidders for the site and the deal is expected to be completed on July 31.

Angry residents have called for a march through Henley if 18 beds are not installed at the new Townlands Hospital.

Almost 3,000 people have now signed the

Henley Standard
’s Save Our Beds petition since it was launched two weeks ago, demanding that health chiefs stick by their promises for the new £16million “health campus”.

This would leave Townlands with no beds for at least six months from when the ward is closed on November 1 and the care home opens.

On the last day of a five-week public consultation on the plans, the

Henley Standard
presented a 2,500-name petition to the commissioning group at its offices in Oxford.

A new festival combining food and literature will be held in Henley next year.

Henley on Food will be the first event of its kind in the country and will include talks, interactive cookery sessions, panel discussions and wine tastings featuring top chefs and culinary writers.

It will take place at Shiplake College from April 29 to May 1 and will be run under the auspices of the Henley Literary Festival.

There will be pop-up restaurants and events and activities for children. More than 6,000 tickets will be available.

Harriet Reed-Ryan, events director for the literary festival, said: “There is the audience there for it. There have been food festivals in Henley before and we love food and foodies.”

Co-founder Kate Lynas added: “The concept behind Henley on Food was devised to feed local demand for intelligent and engaging culinary experiences.”

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