Monday, 24 June 2019

Standing ovation for boy fighting cancer as Henley hails heroes

Standing ovation for boy fighting cancer as Henley hails heroes

A BOY battling cancer was given a standing ovation at the second annual Henley Heroes awards.

Charlie Ilsley, 12, was named child of courage at the ceremony at Henley town hall on Friday night.

It was one of 13 awards presented at the event, which was hosted by BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Andrew Peach and attended by more than 100 people.

The awards were launched last year to celebrate those who make a positive difference to life in the town but aren’t always recognised. They also raise money for the Nomad youth and community project.

They were organised by town and community manager Helen Barnett with a committee of business people, councillors and community workers with the support of the Henley Standard.

Guests were welcomed at a drinks reception in the council chamber before adjourning to the Queen Elizabeth II Room for a three-course dinner with entertainment. There was a raffle, an auction and a game of heroes or villains, a take on heads or tails.

Music was provided by Louis Rees who sang and played the piano, Ava Reineke, who sang Vivaldi’s Domine Deus with her mother Laura playing the violin and Frances Barton on the basso continuo.

Each winner was called up to the stage to collect a glass trophy.

Charlie, who was named a winner in the Community Awards section, attended with his parents Mark and Toni, from Emmer Green, and there was huge applause as the family made their way from the back of the room to the stage.

Charlie first showed signs of being ill in March 2015. Doctors discovered a tumour about the size of a snooker ball in his brain. Another tumour was found on his spine. He underwent a 10-hour operation in April that year in which the brain tumour was partially removed.

He then had 31 sessions of radiotherapy followed by chemotherapy before he was given the all-clear in March 2016. But in March last year two tumours on his spine were discovered.

Since last summer he has been back and forth to Turkey with his mother to have further radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, which was not available at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where he had surgery previously.

Charlie, who attends Highdown School in Emmer Green, recently finished this treatment and his most recent MRI scan was clear.

Mrs Ilsley said: “Charlie was so pleased. When other people were getting their awards he said, ‘I really hope I win one’.

“We were so proud of him, especially when everyone stood up.”

Young person of the year was awarded to CALLUM PERKS, 12, of Gainsborough Road, Henley, who is a keen scooter rider and uses Henley skate park.

He has a shed at home which is full of tools and scooter and skateboard parts and young people visit him so he can fix their machines free of charge.

He also encourages the small group of youngsters who sometimes abuse the facilities to behave more responsibly.

Callum attended the ceremony with his parents Tony Perks and Angela Face.

Mrs Face said: “He was secretly proud but wouldn’t show it. He doesn’t see that he’s done anything to deserve itl — that’s just the kind of boy he is. It’s something he does without thinking. We were very proud of him.

“The skate park is a fantastic facility. It’s just brilliant to see the young people down there.

“It does get bad press but, actually, mostly the young people support each other.

“Callum does appreciate the facility so he wants to look after it and if he sees people not treating it well, or not treating others well, he does stand up for them. He just wants it to be a good place to go.” Fundraiser/volunteer of the year went to CAROLYN MOLYNEUX.

She was nominated for her years of fund-raising for charities including the Reverse Rett Syndrome charity, Sue Ryder and the Henley Regatta for the Disabled.

She also helps organise the Henley Living Advent Calendar and hosts an evening at her business, Delegate Office and Conference Services in Hart Street. She also runs the regatta and Christmas window display competitions.

She was told she’d beaten cancer for the sixth time the day before the ceremony having undergone chemotherapy treatment since September.

Mrs Molyneux, who attended the awards with her mother Gwynn Anstey and Alex Nearchou, who works for her, said: “I’m very proud and I think it’s wonderful.

“It was quite unexpected and I didn’t have any idea at all. I was so shocked. When they said I had the highest nominations of all the categories I couldn’t believe it.

“Everybody was standing up and cheering and I’ve never had that experience before.”

Mrs Molyneux said it was important to help others.

“It’s a way of giving back,” she said. “I’ve been at Delegate for 35 years and people have supported me over these years.

“Once you get into something, you want to keep going. The ones that I’ve been doing for a long time I was asked to help on the committee and I’ve continued and I’m proud to do so because they are wonderful charities to belong to.”

The runner-up was Amelia Ash, from Peppard, a volunteer at the Chiltern Centre for disabled children, off Greys Road, Henley.

She helps with its Buddies Group, a social group for teenagers with physical and/or learning difficulties.

Miss Ash, who has Down’s syndrome, helps put on activities for the young people and supports the fund-raising team at events throughout the year.

St John Ambulance volunteer JULIA YEO was named local hero.

The 75-year-old, of Vicarage Road, Henley, has served the organisation for 43 years and also volunteers at clubs and charities in Henley, including the Chilterns Court Care Centre, the Memory Cafe at the Christ Church Centre and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

She said: “I feel absolutely over the moon and I’m very humbled because there are lots of other people deserving of these awards.

“If somebody’s going out for a lovely day and they are suddenly not well I just like to make them feel better.

“Most of my family are carers in some sort of way, paid carers, and I just love helping people.”

Her colleague Tracy Stephenson, from Hambleden, who has given 24 years’ service to St John Ambulance was given a special commendation.

The runner-up was Ernie Povey, who is chairman of the 1st Shiplake scout group and helps organise the village’s annual picnic and party.

He also helps raise money during the Santa sleigh run and last year dressed as Father Christmas.

LOUISE HASTINGS and JILL ROBINSON both won good neighbour awards.

Mrs Hastings, who works at the Henley visitor information centre, looks after two elderly people and fostered a child. She said: “I was really shocked but I was honoured and humbled by it. I was on cloud nine and I’m still coming down to earth honestly.

“I actually nominated Carolyn because I thought she was so deserving!

“I’ve been helping people for as long as I can remember. I think because our lives are so busy we don’t always stop and take things in. It’s so lovely that we have such a kind and giving community — we’re just so lucky.”

Mrs Robinson, of Gravel Hill, Henley, was nominated for her care and companionship by Hannah Wilson, of Hart Street, who has had brain surgery twice and now has
epilepsy.

She said it was nice to be nominated but added: “Somebody needed some help and I gave it but it was only for a short period of time and I’m no hero.

“I was just helping out where it was needed and hundreds of people all over Henley do that on a daily basis. I think I’ve been very fortunate to win.”

This year’s inspiration award went to MELBA PITT.

The 94-year-old, of Nicholas Road, Henley, has helped young people in Henley for the last 45 years, organising a toy library in the Seventies at the Baptist church for children with learning disabilities.

She also raised money for a sensory room there and relaunched the South Oxfordshire Mencap Society and is now its president.

She also helped with the Henley Talking Newspaper and ran a choir raising thousands for charity and performing in care homes.

She said: “It was a great honour. I was very surprised to be honest because I don’t do so much social work as I used to.

“I think if we’re not put on this earth to help other people what are we here for?

“I’ve got four healthy children, all grown up now of course, and I came across people and neighbours whose children had Down’s Syndrome or were autistic and I just used to think how lucky I was and how much help they needed.

“I was teaching part-time in Henley and I had some time so it seemed to be the thing to do.

“We started this toy library. People with learning disabilities were hidden away — it wasn’t so long ago that happened — and this brought them out. 

“When I moved to Henley, which is over 60 years ago, I was amazed how community minded it was. Henley was so different from where I had lived before near London.”

In the Greener Henley category, the community award went to environmental campaigner PATRICK FLEMING.

The 66-year-old runs an environmental science competition for schools and is secretary of Henley in Transition.

Mr Fleming, of Berkshire Road, Henley, said: “It’s nice to win awards and nice to have people value what you do but for me it’s pretty important that there’s recognition for the thing that we’re working on at the moment, which is the climate emergency.

“This is something which is in the press and something becoming more and more talked about and we would encourage everyone to do their bit to minimise their damage.”

The winner of the business environment award was JANE TUTILL, of the Willow Basket in Friday Street, who was the runner-up in the category last year. She was nominated for reducing her shop’s packaging, in particular plastic.

Any packaging that is used is recyclable and compostable.

The store sells coffee in compostable cups, encourages customers to bring in their own containers to buy produce and sells goods in exact quantities so that customers don’t waste them.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits and I’m extremely humbled to be honest. I didn’t expect it at all.

“I hadn’t even realised until one of my customers came in and said that I’d been nominated!

“I thoroughly enjoyed the evening but to come away with an award and to be recognised for doing something for Henley is wonderful.

“It really gave me an insight into how much my shop is liked in Henley. I like to think I’m a zero-waste shop.”

The runner-up was Nicole Hewitt, owner of the Chi hair salon in Reading Road, Henley, who won the award last year.

In the Henley Business Partnership awards category, interior designer NIKI SCHAFER, was named entrepreneur of the year.

Mrs Schäfer, of Walton Avenue, Henley, was nominated for her work in encouraging businesses in the town to thrive as chairwoman of the partnership and for running the Henley House and Garden Show.

She said: “We’re a small market town, if we don’t look after our businesses then the town dies.

“Genuinely I was very touched. It’s very nice to have the recognition. I do a lot in the town and I’m aware of the things that other people do and I like to celebrate other people.

“There are definitely lots of people who aren’t recognised and some of these people have been working for 40 years for a charity.

“Finding these people and making sure they are thanked and acknowledged is a treat.” The great place to work award went to IBS OFFICE SOLUTIONS, which is based at Friar Park Stables.

The award was collected by former employee, town councillor Kellie Hinton, who worked for the company for two-and-a-half years and nominated it.

Managing director Caleb Southwell was singled out for championing his staff and their roles as parents as well as nurturing their development.

The company was also praised for being family oriented, being a fair and committed payer of wages and for sponsoring events in the town including the May Fayre, Santa Fun Run and Henley Festival.

Mr Southwell said it was a “surprise and an honour” to win.

He said: “It means that the people who work within the business when they are talking about where they work to friends, prospective clients or when they are not in the office and customer-facing, they will more than likely have a smile on their face.

“Hopefully, it might inspire other people or budding entrepreneurs that actually the community does care about Henley. I think it does send a positive business message.”

In the Sporting Awards section, MIKE TRETHEWEY won the outstanding achievement prize for his work at Henley Rugby Club.

The former club chairman oversaw the fund-raising drive for the refurbishment of its clubhouse.

The Hawks finished fourth in National League 2 South this season, the club’s women’s side won the Championship Plate last month and the club has a thriving minis and juniors section.

Mr Trethewey, 74, of Queen Street, Henley, said: “I was surprised and totally chuffed. I was bowled over.

“When I took over the finances at the club weren’t in particularly good shape and it took about four or five years when I was chairman to go through all that.”

He said it was a huge honour just to be at the awards ceremony, adding: “I went to the inaugural one last year and it has come on hugely. It’s a real Henley event and, I think, a brilliant recognition of what people do for the town.”

The inspiring individual award went to TAMRYN LAWRENCE and JULIETTE COLES, who established the Shiplake Stars girls’ netball club just over a year ago.

In addition to running their Sunday morning club, they have extended to running netball classes at Shiplake Primary School as well as walking netball classes for older women in both Shiplake and Stoke Row. They now coach around 90 people a week to play netball and have waiting lists for their club.

Mrs Coles, 42, from Shiplake, said she wanted to start a club after realising there was nothing locally for youngsters such as her daughter Lara, nine.

She said: “We were told that lots of our ladies and young girls who play netball with us had sent into the Henley Heroes how much they were loving playing netball with us so that was a really lovely feeling.”

The runners-up were AFC Henley coaches Sam Bell and Jack Woodley.

A surprise award was given to Sharon Harper, who looks after up to 20 guinea pigs at the Golden Ball pub in Lower Assendon. She was presented with a bunch of flowers by town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak.

Ms Barnett said: “I think it’s very important to honour the unsung heroes of Henley who don’t want the recognition for what they do and do it anyway.

“It’s about creating a community where people really care about each other and help.

“I’m hugely proud of the whole event and all the people who helped make it happen.”

She thanked the sponsors who included the Head Partnership, Ward Consultancy, Brakspear, Plush Drinks, the Henley Business Partnership, Danesfield House, Regus, Red Lion Hotel, Phyllis Court Club, the Fragrance Foundation, Henley Town Council, Savile Row Travel and Higgs Group, publishers of the Henley Standard.

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