Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Youngsters celebrate 20 years of festival

MORE than 2,000 young people took part in the 20th Henley Youth Festival.

MORE than 2,000 young people took part in the 20th Henley Youth Festival.

Sports, art and drama events were the core of the festival, which was held at a variety of venues and run by parents and other volunteers.

There was a record number of entries for the film competition, the new junior proms event at Bix Manor was hailed a success and Festival Stage, held at the Kenton Theatre on Saturday night, was once again popular.

Even the poor weather at the weekend did little to put off participants in the Stonor Run.

Tina Jacobs, one of the festival organisers, said: “It has been a really good year.

“The theme was ‘back to the future’ and while it’s nice to remember that the festival is 20 years old and how it has developed, what is important is that it has a future creating unique opportunities for young people in Henley to develop and show off their talents.”

Two hundred pupils from local primaries took part in the Stonor Run, a cross- country race in the grounds of Stonor Park, courtesy of Lord and Lady Camoys.

The event was sponsored by the Standard and every runner received a medal.

The weather was so bad that the start point for the year five and six races had to be moved after some children in the earlier races slipped over on the muddy ground.

Trinity School won the event overall with Sonning Common primary second and Kidmore End primary third.

Trinity also triumphed in the boys’ races while Rupert House School in Henley won the overall girls’ races. The year five and six boys’ race was won by Tom Jordan, of Sonning Common primary, with Hilary Lunn, of St Mary’s School, Henley, second and Jack Rait, of Trinity School, third.

Tom, 11, said: “I am really pleased to have won. I did the race when I was in year three and came third so this is great.”

Monty Heath, of St Mary’s, won the year three and four boys’ race with Oliver Doyle, of Shiplake primary, second and Connor McKenzie third.

The girls’ year five and six race was won by Lucy Gryce, of Valley Road School, with Posie Gummer, of Sacred Heart primary, second and Zara Lake, of Rupert House, third.

Lucy, of Harpsden Bottom, also won last year’s race as well as the county championships held at Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common last month.

She said: “It was so muddy and I kept slipping all the way round.”

The younger girls’ race was won by Trinity pupil Rebecca Barry, followed by Annabel Hindley, of Rupert House, and Emily Hickson, of Sonning Common.

Co-organiser Jo Lock said: “This was true cross-country and we gave out some special awards for those children who are not natural runners and those who fell over several times but got up and carried on. Others used teamwork to get themselves round.”

On Saturday, art workshops were held at the d:two centre and King’s Arms Barn, including a comic workshop with James Parsons of the Crazy Comic Club and an automaton workshop with Fire the Inventor.

Art co-ordinator Charlotte Purchase said: “We had a really good response — more than 100 children took part and some did both in addition to the Stonor Run, so they had a busy day.”

There were more than 200 entries for the art competition.

On Sunday, a prize-giving ceremony was held at Henley Youth Centre for those who entered the festival’s film, art, photography and writing competitions.

Children created a wide range of pieces associated with the festival theme, including a “time machine”, a future Oscars party and a picture book.

Author Amanda Jennings, artist Camilla Shelley, children’s illustrator David Hancock and Henley Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin presented the prizes in front of a room packed with children and their families.

Mrs Jennings said: “There was a really good standard. The pieces were really interesting and a lot of the children went with the theme in their own particular way.

“It is always hard to judge as each piece of work has its own plusses and minuses but on this occasion the three winners really did leap out.”

Councillor Hodgkin added: “It is a wonderful event. The children all seem to really enjoy it and I hope they get as much out of it as those of us watching. It does need more volunteers to help with the organisation. A lot of people there have been involved for a long time and it is important to keep it going, which takes a lot of hard work.

“The youth centre is able to let the festival use it free, which helps keep costs down, and the art provides a lovely backdrop to the place.”

Pippa Jones, a mother-of-two, said: “My children took part in the drawing competition and my son Max won third prize, which was really good.

“It was a good chance to get them involved in something within the community.”

Isabella Nye, 10, a pupil at St Mary’s School, submitted four competition entries and won a first in the photographic contest. She said: “Two people I know own some really old-fashioned items of clothing.

“I took a picture of them and then took a picture of them wearing modern clothes and holding items such as an iPad.

“I also did a pastel painting of a fox looking into the future. Art is my favourite subject and I was pleased to be chosen for the exhibition.”

Mrs Jacobs said: “We had very good entries and there were lots of children involved, which is the really important thing.

“I do not think there is one single highlight but the thing that nobody really hears about is all the schools workshops that go on quite quietly behind the scenes.

“They mean that every single child in Henley has the opportunity to take part in something a little bit different as part of the youth festival.”

Mrs Jacobs said the organisers would like young people to take more ownership of the festival next year.

For more information, visit www.hyf.org.uk

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