Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Handmade hippos go into storage (sort of)

Handmade hippos go into storage (sort of)

MORE than 30 miniature hippos which formed part of an exhibition in Henley over the summer have found a new permanent home.

The papier-mâché figures have been installed at Henley Self Storage, off Newtown Road, after owner Darren West paid £320 for them in an online auction.

They were among 200 that were decorated by clubs, businesses, schools and community groups across the town to celebrate the bicentenary of Leander Club.

After being exhibited at the River & Rowing Museum in May, they were put on show at various places in the town centre, including shops, homes and the library. They were also part of this year’s regatta shop window display competition.

The hippos were then auctioned on Leander’s website, raising £8,900 for a charity carrying out clean water and conservation research on the Zambezi river in Zambia.

Mr West bid on 50 of the figures and secured 32, which will be placed around his business premises and visitors will be encouraged to try to find them all.

They include a hippo perched on a top hat decorated with playing cards in memory of the late magician Paul Daniels, who lived in Wargrave, and another made to look like his widow and former assistant Debbie McGee. There are hippos contributed by the Henley brownies and guides, who celebrated their 100th anniversary this year, and another made by pupils at Rupert House School which shows a hippo in a rowing shell with oars and a lifejacket.

One hippo is carrying a birthday cake for the club on its back while another is wearing a “technicolor dreamcoat” in honour of broadcaster Philip Schofield, who lives in Fawley and played Joseph in the West End musical in the Nineties.

Mr West said: “We saw about 50 or so that didn’t have any bids and thought we’d put a minimum bid on each so that none of the creators felt disappointed.

“We were crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t get every single one of them and I think 32 is a pretty good compromise. They don’t take up as much room as I’d thought they would so we’ll be able to display them all and I think people will want to photograph them for social media.

“The project was a brilliant idea, especially in somewhere like Henley where you can really capture a lot of people’s imaginations.”

Leander deputy manager Caroline Mulcahy, who came up with the idea with Shelly Robertson, of Wilson Avenue, Henley, said: “We’re very grateful for Darren’s generosity as it meant nobody was left upset.

“It’s lovely that people will still be able to come and see a little exhibition of them, whether they’re customers or not. I know the hippos were very popular when they first went on display as some children kept coming back to see them at the library and were very disappointed when they were taken away.”

The 32 hippos were decorated by the following: years 1 to 4 at Trinity Primary School; year 5 at Sacred Heart Primary School; reception and years 1, 2 and 6 at Valley Road Primary School, Jane Norbury, Manouka Vogel and Bella Vanstone, of St Mary’s School; Isobel Wilson, of Crazies Hill Primary School; the 1st Henley guides; Gillotts School year 8 and art club; the 3rd Henley brownies; Badgemore Primary School; Oliver Dee from Shiplake College, The Henley College student leadership team; and the Warriors on Waste.

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