Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Summer fireworks display unveils new viewing area

HENLEY Summer Fireworks will have a new viewing area at Meadow Farm this year.

The annual display, which takes place on the Saturday night of Henley Royal Regatta, has taken place at Meadow Farm in Marlow Road since 2010.

However, visitors were encouraged to watch from the Stag and Huntsman pub in Hambleden, which is owned by the Culden Faw estate.

This year, Meadow Farm will clear its land of livestock to create one large field for everyone to watch the display.

Billy Pinches, who has organised the fireworks since 2010, said: “What we are trying to do is to get everyone to realise that this is now the official viewing site.

“We are hoping to have attractions like an ice cream van and bouncy castle for families during the day.

“The fireworks are getting bigger every year and I’d like to have fairground rides in the future. Last year there were families running about playing rounders and frisbee and people playing jazz on the field. It’s a magical atmosphere.”

The site will have car parking, a large viewing area, a family zone and a caravan park for those wishing to stay.

Mr Pinches, who runs Henley Plant Hire at Meadow Farm, will open the site to visitors at 12.30pm. There will be no admission charge but car parking will cost about £5 and visitors will be encouraged to make a donation.

Mr Pinches said: “The fireworks last for 12 minutes and cost £1,000 per minute.

“The money to fund that comes predominantly through donations and without those it wouldn’t happen. We will have gift aid on all our donations and people collecting with buckets on the day but the onus is on sponsors.

“We also need responsible helpers and it would be so nice to get young people from the town on board because there’s fantastic camaraderie on the day.”

Mr Pinches took over the fireworks after the regatta stopped allowing the display to take place on its land.

The fireworks are provided by Fantastic Fireworks, of Farm Road, Henley, and volunteers from the Henley Lions and sea cadets carry out bucket collections in the town and at the regatta site.

Henley Summer Fireworks became a registered charity in 2012 and collects money throughout the year for charities including the Regatta for the Disabled, Helen and Douglas House and the Chiltern Centre for disabled children.

The Stag and Huntsman has been the official viewing area since Mr Pinches took over the fireworks and money from car parking there went towards the cost of the display.

More than 2,000 people attended last year’s display, which raised about £3,500.

Mr Pinches said: “The Stag and Huntsman put up a beer tent in 2010 so what we did to help them out was raise the height of the fireworks from 500ft to 800ft so people could see it from there.

“We then started policing it and would collect money for car parking along with Henley Lions. It really started to take off there.

“I’ve had letters from people who have grown up and moved away from Henley who remember the fireworks when they were kids and how they had to be well behaved or they couldn’t go.”

Henley Summer Fireworks will take place this year on Saturday, July 5.

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