Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Henley Living Advent Calendar 2020 cancelled

Henley Living Advent Calendar 2020 cancelled

THIS year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers say they have made the decision because of the need to maintain social distancing and the possibility of a second wave of covid-19 in the winter.

This would have been the 10th year of the event, which features 24 evenings of entertainment at a range of venues across the town from December 1 to Christmas Eve.

Organiser Richard Rodway said: “It is with much regret that we have made the difficult decision not to proceed with the event this year.

“As it stands, amid the current social distancing restrictions, we are unable to stage the event and we do not anticipate that the situation will change sufficiently by December.

“Indeed, the situation may well become more problematic as winter kicks in and we face the real risk of a second wave. The health and safety of everyone involved, the performers, volunteers across all of the nights, attending public and, of course, our Living Advent team has to be our primary concern.”

Last year, the event raised £7,369, surpassing the previous record of £5,860 set in 2017. The beneficiaries included Nomad, Sue Ryder, Henley Music School and Headway Thames Valley.

Mr Rodway said he had considered an online version of the event but was not convinced it would work.

He added: “The essence of the Living Advent is all about the first-hand and direct collaborative experience, coming together and interaction on the night. An online Living Advent is not without its own issues and would not come close to the look and feel of what the event is all about.

“We therefore hope to return in 2021 in the manner to which we have become accustomed and we hope we can all come together again then for an extra special
joyous festive celebration. In the meantime, we feel sure that we will all take whatever opportunities we can to spread some festive cheer around the town this December.”

Jamie Higgins, manager at Headway Thames Valley in Greys Road, said: “I think it is probably the right decision but we will certainly miss it this year.

“It is always one of the highlights in our calendar and something that the staff and volunteers always enjoy contributing

“It always raises a good amount of money for us and also raises our profile.”

Laura Reineke, founder of Henley Music School, said: “It is a big shame. It is our favourite event of the year. We always have great fun and it marks the start of the Christmas season.

“But we understand we will just have to work towards 2021. I think everybody is taking a hit this year because of the situation and will understand. We are all trying to fundraise in different ways and there is nothing anyone can do about it.”

Henley Mayor Ken Arlett said: “I totally respect the decision. At the minute, you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow or next week, let alone in December.

“It is a massive job that Richard does getting all these acts together to do all that and then have to cancel it — I don’t think he was left with much of a choice. We are all having to make decisions this year that we wouldn’t normally make.

“It is very unfortunate for the charities but we may be able to do something else for them.

“Everybody is worried about a second spike and if we had a vaccine tomorrow we wouldn’t have to make these decisions. Let’s all look forward to 2021.”

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