Tales of bravery, protest, long-awaited success and a fight
POP star Jessie J opened the Henley Festival and said it was one of her “favourite gigs this
POP star Jessie J opened the Henley Festival and said it was one of her “favourite gigs this summer”.
The singer, who left hospital last week over undergoing two operations, had the crowd dancing from start to finish at Wednesday night’s show.
She arrived in a BMW before performing an energetic and provocative set on the “floating” stage complete with a gold-painted throne.
Dressed in a thigh-length see-through black T-shirt reading “Henley-on-Thames”, black boots and black underwear, she performed hits including Domino, Price Tag, Bang Bang, and Do It Like A Dude.
Jessie told the crowd: “I’ve got a sneaky suspicion I’m a little bit underdressed! Can I just say you’re the best dressed crowd I’ve ever seen?”
Blistering temperatures and record-breaking performances marked the 176th annual Henley Royal Regatta.
Thousands of people attended each day of the five-day event with the biggest crowds on Saturday when the spectators were up to 10 deep along the banks of the River Thames.
The highest temperature of 32C was recorded on the opening day on Wednesday and new regatta chairman Sir Steve Redgrave gave permission for men in the stewards’ enclosure to remove their jackets — only the fourth time this has happened in 39 years.
Rowers complained that the glue on their oars melted when left out in the sun.
More than 25,000 pints of Pimm’s and 4,500 bottles of champagne were sold in the stewards’ enclosure alone and an estimated ton of strawberries was sold in the luncheon tent.
On the water, more than 500 crews from 22 countries took part, including world and Olympic champions and school, university and club crews.
Henley’s Leander Club crews won seven cups, including the Grand Challenge Cup, where the Great Britain eight, the new world champions, beat the German Olympic champions by almost three lengths.
Campaigners have warned health chiefs that a march against plans to cut the number of beds at the new Townlands Hospital is “only the beginning”.
About 2,000 people took part in the march around Henley town centre last Saturday in protest at the proposals by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to install five beds at the hospital instead of the Â 18 that were originally Â promised.
But David Smith, chief executive of the commissioning group, appeared to suggest the five-bed model will still go ahead after saying he couldn’t “turn back the tide of change”.
Doctors in Henley have approached health chiefs about moving the Bell and Hart surgeries to the new Townlands Hospital.
They say it could be the “right choice” for patients and would provide a solution for the second floor of the hospital, which is currently set to be empty after Sue Ryder pulled out of a deal in December to relocate its hospice from Nettlebed.
The GPs have approached NHS Property Services, which owns the hospital site, but have yet to receive a reply. Dr Philip Unwin, senior partner at The Hart Surgery, said: “It might well be the right choice for patients.”
A couple fear their young son could go blind after being denied drugs readily available elsewhere in Britain that could save his sight.
Riley Salter, seven, was diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammatory eye condition, in August 2013 and already has problems seeing out of his left eye. He has to take steroid eye drops and injections of methotrexate, which is used to treat autoimmune conditions.
His parents, Robin and Becca, of Stoke Row Road, Peppard Common, say that long-term use of the drops can cause complications such as cataracts, which he has already developed in his right eye, and glaucoma.
Riley’s condition could be treated more effectively by the drugs Infliximab and Adalimumab. Both are readily available in Scotland and Wales but not funded in England while their use is standard practice in many other countries.
NHS England says there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use.
THREE suspected illegal immigrants made their way to Wargrave by hiding in a £250,000 motor boat.
Two Pakistani men, aged 26 and 29, and a 30-year-old Iranian man were found stowed in the second-hand Broom 35 Coupe, which was being delivered to Val Wyatt Marine in Willow Lane.
The 35ft cruiser had been brought from France by ferry and it is believed the men got inside while it was in the ferry hold. It was then driven from Portsmouth to Wargrave by lorry. When the driver stopped at the top of Station Road on Saturday morning, the men jumped out and ran off.
A blind adventurer who was left paralysed after falling from a window at the home of friends in Henley has won his claim for Â damages.
Mark Pollock, 39, from Dublin, suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the 25ft fall in July 2010 and is now wheelchair-bound.
He blamed Enda and Madeline Cahill for his fall, saying the second floor bedroom window should not have been left open at their home in Remenham Lane, where he was staying during Henley Royal Regatta. The couple denied they were at fault.
The judge at the High Court in London ruled that the open window created an obvious risk for a blind person, particularly on the second storey of a house with nothing to prevent a fall to the ground below.
Mr Justice Williams Davis said: “I am satisfied that the Cahills failed to discharge the common law duty of care they owed as occupiers. The open window was a real risk to Mr Pollock. They created that risk.”
A Henley gym that closes today (Friday) could re-open under new ownership.
LA Fitness in Newtown Road is being evicted by its landlord Henthames, which is understood to want planning permission for a care home.
However, a potential investor has told Henley Town Council they would like to buy the site and lease it to a gym operator.
Councillor Sam Evans, who is backing a residents’ campaign to keep the facility open, wouldn’t name the individual but said they had “local connections”.
A jewellery maker from Henley was thrilled to see his creations in the new film
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Antony Reineke, who runs Studio 35 in Duke Street, was approached last year by Warner Bros to make a Romanov-style engagement ring for the Sixties spy thriller, which was released on Friday.
The film studios were so impressed that they then asked him for a second silver ring with jewels and an oversized black pearl, which doubles as a bugging device.
In the film, this ring is worn by Gabby Teller, played by Alicia Vikander, after she is given it as a mock engagement ring by Russian spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Â Hammer).
Mr Reineke saw the film at the weekend and now has posters in his shop featuring Vikander wearing the rings. “The rings are integral to the plot, which made us feel special and a real part of the movie,” he said.
A young woman was rescued by a Henley town councillor after her car left the road and overturned.
The accident happened at a blackspot on the A4155 between Shiplake Cross and Playhatch at about 3.30pm on Wednesday.
The woman had been travelling towards Caversham when her Ford Ka left the road near Hampstead Hill and landed upside down in a field. No other vehicle was involved.
Councillor David Eggleton, who was passing in his van, pulled over and used a hammer to smash a side window and then passed the 21-year-old woman a blanket before smashing the driver’s Â window.
He then pulled her to safety with the help of another man who had stopped. The woman said she wasn’t hurt but couldn’t see well as she’d lost her glasses in the accident.
Henley pop star Carol Decker was back on song when she appeared at the Rewind South Festival.
The T’Pau vocalist belted out several numbers in front of 20,000 people at the Eighties music celebration on Temple Island Meadows on Sunday.
It was one of her first performances after taking four months off from performing due to bronchitis. Doctors had told her she had to rest or she could permanently lose her voice.
Decker, 57, said: “I’m feeling well now and I’ve done quite a few gigs across the summer. I can only hope I was in tune because I couldn’t hear anything but it was good fun.”
A BUSINESSMAN from Henley is to travel to the migrant camps in Calais with a van full of goods to help those in need.
Tom Clark, who runs Rowgear on the Hernes Estate, off Greys Road, is appealing for donations in time for his trip to the port on September 21.
He wants clothing, toiletries, tents or shelters and food. There are more than 5,000 migrants wanting to enter Britain who are camped at the sprawling tent city in Calais known as “The Jungle”.
Mr Clark, 26, of Crowsley Way, Sonning Common, said: “I’ve seen a lot in the media about it and felt I wanted to do something.”
The parents of a boy who broke his arm had to take him to hospital themselves after being told an ambulance couldn’t attend. Mackenzie Cusk, nine, had to undergo surgery and spent two nights in hospital after the accident on the towpath in Mill Meadows in Henley.
He injured his left arm after falling off his scooter while playing with his seven-year-old brother Dylan on Friday afternoon.
The boys were with their mother Kate Oldridge when the accident happened and all three waited in vain for an ambulance for 45 minutes.
They were initially told an ambulance was on its way. Then they were informed it had been diverted to calls with greater priority.
Angry residents of Henley have lambasted a national newspaper columnist who branded the town dull.
Lucy Cavendish wrote the article for The Telegraph after comedian Russell Brand was reported to have been house-hunting in the area.
She described the town as “blue-rinsed and genteelly well-heeled”, where only women had long hair, and suggested that the inhabitants were of the “hang-em-high-my-other-car’s-a-Porsche brigade”.
The freelance journalist, who was born and bred locally, also wrote: “So little happens in this sleepy town I sometimes wonder if its ageing population has already died and gone to heaven.” Readers complained to the Henley Standard about the column, which contained a number of spelling mistakes.
Marti Webb opened the new-look foyer at the Kenton Theatre in Henley before delighting audiences with the first show of the autumn Â season.
The musical actress performed her one-woman show
Tell Me On A Sunday despite suffering with a cold and received a standing ovation at the end and demands for an encore.
Before Friday night’s show she cut a ribbon to officially open the foyer, which has been transformed in a two-month project and features a new box office and bar.
Henley fell just short of winning gold in a European horticultural competition.
The town was just over one percentage point short of the 85 per cent required for gold in Entente Florale Europe and had to settle for silver.
Six of the 10 European towns competing took gold with the other four being awarded silver.
Town councillor Kellie Hinton, vice-chairwoman of Henley in Bloom, said: “We were really happy with 83.67 per cent but when we found out how close that was to gold it was gutting.”
THERE will be no beds at Townlands Hospital when it opens in December.
Despite calls to install 18 in the new building, as originally promised, health chiefs have instead agreed to “buy” eight beds from the neighbouring care home, which has not yet been built.
Up to six more beds would be available at the home “on demand”. This is despite the new hospital’s second floor being empty after Sue Ryder pulled out of a deal to relocate its hospice from Nettlebed.
Campaigners have branded the decision by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body a “disaster”. Former mayor Jeni Wood said the existing Peppard ward, which has 14 beds, would vanish when the current hospital was demolished to make way for the £16million “health campus”.
A family’s beloved first pet has been crowned Henley’s Top Dog 2015.
Blue, a 12-year-old German pointer, belongs to Jo and Barney Wise, who live in Swyncombe with their children Frank, nine, and Rose, seven.
She was one of more than 50 entrants to the sixth annual competition, which is organised by the
Henley Standard and Henley dog groomers Naughty Mutt Nice and this year was run in partnership with Henley in Bloom.
The theme was “Blooming Wonderful Woofers” and entrants had to submit a picture of their pet doing something involving flowers.
A spoon sculpture marking Uri Geller’s time in Sonning may have to be removed because it doesn’t have planning permission.
The bright red artwork bearing his name was unveiled on the Thames towpath on Monday by the illusionist, who has lived in the village for 35 years.
Now Geller has been told to submit a planning application or face having to remove the piece made by artist Paul Wells. The sculpture, which is made from 6mm forged steel, has been riveted to a tree stump near Sonning Lock.
Geller said: “My understanding is that all the proper permission was granted. It would seem a great shame if the red spoon should be removed due to red tape.”
Two villages are bracing themselves for a second legal battle over plans for 110 homes on farmland near Henley.
A High Court judge has quashed a planning inspector’s decision to forbid the development at Thames Farm, between Shiplake and Harpsden.
Claire Engbers, who owns the 15-acre site off Reading Road, may now launch a fresh appeal against South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision not to approve the scheme.
Mrs Engbers applied for outline permission to build a mixture of flats and houses on the land in June 2013.
The district council unanimously rejected it amid opposition from residents, Shiplake and Harpsden parish councils and its own planning officers.
Objectors said the development would damage the area’s rural character and erode the green boundary between Shiplake, Harpsden and Henley.
Henley has scooped its first Britain in Bloom gold at the third attempt.
The announcement was made at a gala awards ceremony on Friday and comes after the town won gold and first place in the town category of the Thames and Chilterns in Bloom awards and silver in the Entente Florale Europe competition last month.
For the past two years Henley has won silver gilt in the national competition.
The Mayor of Henley has been the target of abuse on the internet after being photographed parked in a loading bay.
Lorraine Hillier was reduced to tears by the media response to some of the comments made by Facebook users when Henley resident Rob Strike posted the image online.
She said she was shocked by the vile tone of some of the posts and attacked Mr Strike for trying to make an example of her.
Councillor Hillier admitted she had made a mistake but dismissed her critics, saying she had spent only a few minutes parked in the Bell Street bay while she was buying supplies for one of her businesses, the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street.
A hair salon helped a teenager achieve her riding dream by attaching mane extensions to her pony.
Amy Allen, from South Stoke, feared she would have to pull out of the Horse of the Year Show when her father David accidentally shaved a large chunk from Sugar’s mane.
But the 13-year-old was able to compete after Kimberley’s Hair Studio in Woodcote saved the day.
Amy’s mother Sue, a regular visitor to the salon in Wood Green, asked owner Kimberley Russell if she could restore the pony’s mane with artificial Â extensions.
Although Mrs Russell had not worked with animals, she agreed to have a go. Mrs Allen, whose daughter attends Langtree School in Woodcote, bought the extensions from an equestrian supplier.
Her husband drove Sugar to the salon in a horse box and Mrs Russell carried out the procedure in the car park behind her premises.
Two days later Amy and Sugar, a 128cm pony who competes as Pennyroyal Little Brown Sugar, took part in the event at the Birmingham NEC. Sugar’s hair was specially plaited for the occasion and the pair, who were the only amateur entrants, were placed 10th.
HUNDREDS of people said farewell to a popular railway chargeman as he retired after more than 50 years.
Norman Topsom, 68, of Gainsborough Hill, Henley, blew his whistle for the last time on Friday, having worked at the stations in Henley, Twyford and Â Reading.
He was born in Henley and started working at the old town station when he left school in 1962. He later moved to the parcel depot at Reading but spent most of his working life as chargeman at Twyford station.
He became a popular figure at the station thanks to his friendly demeanour and trademark sideburns and was made an MBE in 2005 for services to the community.
To celebrate Mr Topsom’s retirement, a specially commissioned portrait of him was unveiled at Twyford before he caught a train back to Henley for a party. He also rode in the cab of the train, which had “Norman Topsom MBE” on the side.
A student from Henley has told how she was almost caught up in the Paris terror attacks in which 129 people died.
Amy Brandis, 20, who is studying in the French capital, was on her way to see a friend in the Place de la République on Friday night when gunmen shot 39 people in attacks on two restaurants and a café.
One incident happened in rue Alibert, a few doors from where her friend lives, and she would have been there had she not decided on a last-minute change of clothes.
Within minutes of arriving at her own flat in the second arrondissement, she received several messages from friends warning her to stay indoors. By then, three members of the same gang of Islamic extremists had carried out suicide bombings at the Stade de France football stadium, where France and Germany were playing a friendly.
Gunmen shot dead another 89 people at the Bataclan music hall by firing into the crowd watching a rock concert.
Miss Brandis barricaded herself in her flat for about 35 hours and used Twitter to contact her parents Mark and Sara, who live in Western Road, to let them know she was safe.
Tickets to see Elton John on the opening night of next year’s Henley Festival are being sold for almost 15 times their face value.
A handful of tickets to see the Tiny Dancer singer perform on the “floating stage” on July 6 have appeared on the ticketing website www.viagogo.co.uk Tickets are due to go on sale to the general public on December 7 but are already available to “selected members”, such as festival patrons.
The seller, who is not identified, is offering four £35 general admission tickets at £495 each. There are also six grandstand B ticket and meal packages being sold at £580 each. The festival has said that top-end tickets for the evening cost £200 each.
THIS year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar has broken its own fund-raising record.
About £4,500 has been donated in bucket collections and raffles since the start of the fifth annual event, which is sponsored by Higgs Group, publisher of the Henley Standard.
This is a third up on last year’s total of £3,335 and better than the previous record of £4,054, set in 2013.
Richard Rodway, who chairs the calendar, said: “We raised £4,000 with four days still to go. The audiences have been great, both in terms of numbers and their generosity and their Christmas and community spirit.”
Thousands of people packed the streets of Henley for the 24th annual Christmas Festival.
Revellers enjoyed fairground rides, stalls, musical performances, the official switch-on of the Christmas tree lights and carols on the town hall steps on Friday evening.
Many shops stayed open late to make the most of the extra footfall as roads in the town centre were closed to traffic. There was also a lantern parade by about 100 children from New Street to the town hall.
A food bank in Henley has seen an increase in demand. The Light House has organised the delivery of 115 food bags to needy residents this Christmas.
Families of four people or fewer receive two bags and families of five or more receive four bags. The bags contain basic foodstuff such as baked beans, pasta and rice and household wares, such as soap and toilet rolls.
The food bank is based at the d:two centre in Market Place and is run by youth and community group Nomad. The group estimates that 296 people will be helped this Christmas, about half of them children.
Archaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be a piece of Henley’s medieval bridge.
The chunk of wood, which is about 2ft 6in long and weighs several pounds, was dug up near the Angel on the Bridge pub in Thames Side.
It was the largest of a number of items found by archaeologists for Thames Water, which is carrying out sewer repairs beneath Singers Park.
The utility firm asked the experts to step in after its workmen hit a disused brick culvert while digging to reach the pipework.
A boy battling a brain tumour is spending Christmas at home with his family after months of gruelling chemotherapy treatment.
Charlie Ilsley, eight, has spent the last three months in and out of hospital but his parents Mark and Toni say they are delighted to be spending the festive season together as a family.
Charlie, of Buckingham Drive, Emmer Green, was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in April and has undergone three sessions of chemotherapy since late August in an attempt to eradicate the cancer.
A scan after the second bout came back as clear but he still faces one more round of the treatment and will return to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on New Year’s Eve.
Mrs Ilsley, 45, who is a technician at the pharmacy at Tesco in Henley, said: “The scan results are brilliant — we count ourselves lucky.”
Since starting his treatment, Charlie has only been able to spend about two weeks at home at a time, or sometimes just a few days.
The public information desk at Henley police station is to be closed to save money.
Thames Valley Police announced on Monday that it is to axe 18 of the 34 front counters across the force area from April 1.
Shutting the desk at Henley police station in Greys Road will save about £21,000 and it is understood that one job will be affected.
The police say that most members of the public now contact them by phone or online rather than in person.