Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Women’s regatta to receive £16,700 in grant from council

Women’s regatta to receive £16,700 in grant from council

CHARITIES, clubs and community groups in Henley are set to receive almost £55,000 in grants from the town council.

Members of the council’s finance strategy and management committee approved requests from 13 applicants either wholly or in part.

The biggest sum went to Henley Women’s Regatta, which received £16,766 for equipment needed to broadcast the races online.

The organisers said spectators now expected this and it had previously borrowed equipment from Samsung but that may no longer be possible.

Elise Cope, from the regatta, said the event’s costs were rising but the organisers don’t want to increase the entry fee for athletes above the current average of £37 or to charge for admission.

She said: “We’re run entirely by volunteers and while we do have capital we need to keep it for a rainy day, for example, if we had to cancel at the last minute.”

Councillor Laurence Plant said: “This is one of the best events of the year and it’s important for us to support women in sport.

“It brings lots of people to the town and, unlike with the royal regatta, they go into the town centre and don’t just drink and socialise on the river bank.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann, the committee chairman, suggested awarding half the money and encouraing the regatta to seek the rest elsewehere, adding: “It’s very well-run and successful but where is the benefit to Henley residents?”

The council’s annual grant to the Henley 60+ Club in Greys Road car park was increased from £10,000 to £15,000.

The club, which provides a hot lunch and activities for 110 older residents on three days a week, says its staffing, utility and administrative costs are going up and it is still struggling with a £5,000 budget deficit despite the council’s support.

Treasurer Sue Bishop said the membership fee or the cost of the lunches could be raised but this risked driving some people away, increasing their risk of isolation.

She said the average age of members was 84 and they were typically more needy and less able to undertake fund-raising activities.

She said: “We’re often first to notice if an illness or other problem is getting worse. We can point them in the direction of services like the Bluebells dementia club or inform their doctor if there’s something they should know.

“This is an essential service and it’s hard for us to find grants for running costs as most only cover capital purchases.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “I really don’t think we spend enough on it. It is a lifeline for the older people of this town.”

The River & Rowing Museum’s annual grant was raised from £13,800 to £14,800 to support two new programmes, one offering volunteer placements for students at Gillotts School in Henley as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the other supporting young people across South Oxfordshire who are learning new skills through the Government’s National Citizen Service scheme.

Mayor Ken Arlett said: “The museum is worth a lot more to Henley than the £1,000 increase it is requesting. I’d urge everyone to see it for themselves as, unfortunately, some people in this town have never been.”

The Nomad youth and community project, which is based at the d:two centre in Upper Market Place, Henley, was given £1,000 to develop its detached youth work”.

It wants to recruit volunteers who will approach young people who congregate in public areas and encourage them to take part in structured activities. This is designed to reduce instances of antisocial behaviour and vandalism.

The Henley Drama Festival, which is now in its 49th year, received £750 of the £1,000 it requested. The grant will help cover the cost of hiring the Kenton Theatre for a week and the fees of a professional adjudicator.

The other awards were: Headway Thames Valley (£1,200), the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre in Greys Road (£1,000), Henley Symphony Orchestra (£750), Opera Prelude (£650), Home-Start Southern Oxfordshire (£500) and Henley air cadets (£250).

Councillors awarded sums totalling £7,600 to other community groups and £748 in free use of the town hall.

Henley Rotary Club and the Jeux D’Esprit performing arts company were awarded free use of the town hall for two events worth £297 and £451 respectively.

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