Monday, 06 December 2021

Counting down to Christmas

Counting down to Christmas

HENLEY’S Christmas tree was installed in the town centre on Monday.

The 30ft Nordmann fir arrived on a tractor and trailer and was lowered into a hole in the ground in Falaise Square using a crane.

Mayor Sarah Miller and members of the public stopped to watch the half-hour operation carried out by members of the town council’s parks services team.

They trimmed the base of the tree with chainsaws so that it would fit, then wedged blocks of wood around the base to hold it in place.

Councillor Miller, who chose the tree during a visit to the Tree Barn in Christmas Common last month, said: “I’m really pleased with it and think it looks great.

“I didn’t realise how much work goes into putting it up, so well done to the parks services team for doing that — they waited in the cold for quite some time before the tree arrived.

“I feel all Christmassy and I’m very happy to have chosen this tree in particular as it has the perfect shape.” The 30-year-old tree, which is sponsored by Invesco, will be lit up on Friday evening as part of the annual Henley Christmas Festival.

Cllr Miller said: “I can’t wait to see it all decorated and lit up.”

Alice Vernon, eight, a pupil Rupert House School in Bell Street, will have the honour of turning on the lights after winning the competition to design the Mayor’s Christmas card with a watercolour picture of St Mary’s Church.

The festival is returning after being cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It will be held in the town centre, Bell Street, Duke Street Hart Street and Friday Street from 5pm to 9pm.

There will be stalls, attractions and traditional fairground rides such as a helter skelter and a house of fun.

The town council has hired a covered stage in Market Place for the first time for live entertainment, which will include a performance by the Mayor.

A song that Cllr Miller wrote last year, called Henley-on-Christmas, will be performed by Matt Richardson and his rock band Lucky To Be Alive.

The Christmas tree lights will be switched on at 7pm before some traditional carol singing led by the Woodley Concert Band at 7.10pm.

Businesses, charities and community groups will have stalls in Falaise Square as well as outside their stores.

The town council, which organises the event, has not asked retailers to open late this year but encouraged them to offer refreshments to the crowds instead.

Even so, at least 20 different businesses will still be opening late. Laurence Menswear in Duke Street will be selling mulled wine and mince pies to raise money for the Chiltern Centre.

Santa’s Grotto, organised by Tom Ryan and Paula Price-Davies, will be in the courtyard at Hotel du Vin in New Street from 4pm to 8pm. Entry is free and every child will receive a goody bag.

Dance teacher Steph Maxwell, who runs the Divas and Dudes Dance Academy, will be at the grotto entertaining children with her Disco Duck as they wait to meet Santa.

The event is sponsored by Invesco, Kench & Co and St Mary’s School.

Hart Street, Bell Street, Duke Street and Market Place and Friday Street, between the junctions with Duke Street and Queen Street, will be closed from 3pm to 11pm.

Cllr Miller said: “The festival has always been the event that kicks off the Christmas celebrations for me — the tree goes up and the lights are switched on and we are ready for it.

“I’ve always taken my kids and it just really good fun. It was a shame we couldn’t have it last year but hopefully we are going to make up for it this year.

“It’s going to be slightly scaled down but there’s going to be lots of entertainment.

“I’m really looking forward to it and I hope all our visitors and businesses will have a great time.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say