Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Donating 50p could save Summer Fireworks

HENLEY’S annual summer fireworks will be saved if every resident gives 50p

HENLEY’S annual summer fireworks will be saved if every resident gives 50p.

That’s the message from campaigners working to ensure the display goes ahead on the Saturday of this year’s Henley Royal Regatta.

More than £4,000 of the £10,000 target has been raised so far, including £400 collected from shoppers in Market Place on Saturday.

Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton, who is part of a volunteer committee and helped to collect money, said the total had to be raised by July 1.

“If every resident in Henley gave 50p we would get there,” he said. “I’m confident, but we need the town to put monies in collection boxes if they are able to do so.”

Buckets have been left at Gabriel Machin butchers in Market Place, the Bull pub in Bell Street, the Angel on the Bridge pub and the town hall. Henley Royal Regatta has pledged £1,500, while two people have donated £1,000 and £500 respectively. A further £259 was raised at last month’s mayor-making ceremony. Councillor Hamilton said: “We are talking to Phyllis Court and Leander Club, all the places along the river that would benefit from the display.”

Richard Reed, a member of the committee, said the fireworks were a well-loved tradition.

“My mother, whose is just short of her 95th birthday, remembers seeing the fireworks as a child,” he said.

“The fireworks have been in jeopardy for some time now. I think this is about the fourth time they have had to be rescued. It would be desperately sad to see them go.

“About 10,500 people live in Henley. If everybody gave 50p that would be enough to make sure they go ahead this year and enough to start next year. People in Henley are generous and I’m hoping they will rally to the call.”

Cllr Hamilton said the town council’s finance committee would consider giving a grant but it wouldn’t be as much as the £8,000 donated previously.

In April Billy Pinches, who has staged the event on his land at Meadows Farm since 2010, announced this year’s display would not take place because he is selling the land and moving away.

Now his brother Richard Pinches, who also owns a riverside plot off Marlow Road, is hoping to organise a smaller display this summer with a view to doing something bigger next year.

There has been a fireworks display on the Saturday night of the regatta for at least a century. It used to be held on the regatta’s land but was moved off after the summer of 2008.

It didn’t happen in 2009 but Mr Pinches revived it on his field the following year with help from Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill. The event was registered as a charity and proceeds were given to good causes in the area.

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