Saturday, 31 July 2021

Heroes welcome

HENLEY’S Olympic heroes will be welcomed back from Rio with a homecoming parade on Saturday

HENLEY’S Olympic heroes will be welcomed back from Rio with a homecoming parade on Saturday.

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets as the Team GB rowers are driven around the town centre in an open-top bus before being given a civic reception in Market Place.

Rowers from Leander Club returned from Brazil with three gold medals and two silvers, making a total of 12 medallists and bringing the club’s total number of all-time Olympic medals to 123.

Twenty athletes including double Olympic champion and Leander captain Alex Gregory will be at tomorrow’s parade.

The celebrations will begin with a row-past at 10.25am. The crews will row upstream from Leander to the River and Rowing Museum, then turn around and row in the opposite direction to Upper Thames Rowing Club before returning to Leander.

At 11.25am the athletes will board the double-decker bus for the parade, during which streets will be closed to traffic.

The bus will travel over Henley Bridge and into Hart Street before turning right into Bell Street and right again into New Street.

It will then head along the waterfront in Thames Side before turning back into Hart Street and up to Market Place before parking at the back of the town hall.

The athletes will disembark and be escorted through the building by Mayor Julian Brookes and compere Martin Unsworth, of Reading Road, Henley, who is the stepfather of Will Satch, the Leander athlete who stroked the GB eight to gold in Rio.

The party will emerge from the front entrance on to the town hall steps at 12.15pm, where they will step through an arch of blades carried by young oarsmen and women from local rowing clubs.

Spectators will be given Union flags to wave and the town hall will fly the Union and town flags.

Local musicians will perform open-mic sessions and councillors will give out chocolate medals. There will be commemorative postcards with pictures of all the athletes who competed printed by Higgs Group on behalf of Leander.

After a short introduction by Mr Unsworth, the rowers will walk around Market Place, greeting visitors and posing for photographs.

If it is wet, this part of the ceremony will be moved into the main hall of the building.

Henley MP John Howell, who will attend, said: “I’m very much looking forward to it. We secured an absolutely fantastic haul of medals at Rio this year and Henley in particular played a huge part in that.

“It will be a great pleasure to be able to thank the athletes for their outstanding contributions.”

Mayor Julian Brookes said: “This is a great way to inspire young people to get involved in rowing and several clubs will have stalls in Market Place so they’ll be able to sign up there and then if they like. I just hope the weather is kind.”

The rowers will leave Market Place at 1pm and return to Leander with the Mayor and Mayoress for a private reception.

A separate reception for Henley’s Paralympians will take place at the town hall next month.

The Environment Agency, which is responsible for safety on and around the river, says spectators wishing to view the row-past from the water should find a safe mooring which doesn’t obstruct other boats or landowners.

Powered boats must not try to follow the rowers at speeds faster than 8kmph and no boat may navigate in a manner that causes wash. Rowers are requested not to train during the row-past.

Between 6am and noon, Henley Royal Regatta will suspend mooring charges on its land downstream from Henley Bridge on the Berkshire bank and at Fawley Meadows on the Buckinghamshire bank.

Why not print off your own poster and see if you can get it signed by the Olympians? You can download it from here:

Henley Standard Rio Poster

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