Monday, 22 October 2018

Last chance to save fireworks

Last chance to save fireworks

THIS year’s Henley summer fireworks may not go ahead due to a lack of funds.

Organisers say that with just over three weeks to go they still need to raise half the money and are appealing for donations.

The display, which traditonally takes places on the Saturday evening of Henley Royal Regatta and dates back 125 years, costs about £12,000 to stage.

Richard Reed, one of the fund-raisers, said: “We’re getting on for about half the money we need.

“We still need to raise £6,000 by the first Wednesday of next month when the regatta starts.

“Some people have been extremely generous but we’re still well short and if we don’t get the money there won’t be any fireworks this year. There’s a real danger it might not happen.

“I’m always hopeful that people will put their hands in their pockets and we can have the fireworks again, but it’s certainly not guaranteed. A lot of people say to me that the regatta should pay for them. That as may be but the fact is they don’t.”

Fantastic Fireworks, a specialist company, is due to give the display on land owned by the Crockett family at Sham Hill, near Remenham.

There will be a series of pink fireworks in the finale over Leander Club to celebrate its bicentenary this year.

The display was previously held for several years at Meadows Farm, off Marlow Road, on land owned by Billy Pinches, who then sold the land and left the area.

Mr Reed said: “It’s a lovely tradition and so popular — my 97-year-old mother remembers these fireworks when she was a little girl.

“Some people have said ‘why should the people of Henley pay for it when it’s all the tourists that come and watch?’.

“But this display is for the people of Henley and the fact we have visitors is irrelevant. From almost every bedroom window in town you can see the fireworks.

“If everyone in the town gave me a £1 we’d be there — that’s not a big ask. There are some things in life that are really worth preserving and I think this is one of them.

“The Saturday is traditionally the best day for the regatta. It’s the busiest day and the town is absolutely rammed full of people and they can watch the display from the bridge or from the riverbank.

“It’s just a really nice social thing to have — it’s really very pleasant.”

Town councillor Will Hamilton, who also helps with fund-raising, added: “If people give as generously as they did last time, the fireworks will be fine. We’re very much hoping we get there.

“I took it on three years ago when they were at risk and it has become harder to raise the money given the current economic times as it were. We hope we can carry on the tradition.

“It’s a great thing for Henley that there’s an event in the evening which is inclusive for all and everyone enjoys it.”

Henley Town Council is to donate £2,500 and Phyllis Court Club, Henley Royal Regatta and Leander Club have pledged donations.

Collection tins are in Gabriel Machin butchers and the Square restaurant in Market Place, the Anchor in Friday Street, the Angel on the Bridge, Hotel du Vin in New Street, The Bull and Coppa Club in Bell Street and the town hall.

You can pay directly into Lloyds bank in Henley or electronically to “Henley Fireworks Fund”, account number 18827960, sort code 30-80-54.

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