Sir, — Who should be allowed to live in England? We are all immigrants!
The last ice age ended 12,000 years ago and since then there have been several waves of immigrants, the Romans 2,000 years ago, the French 1,000 years ago and since then many lesser migrations, such as the Huguenots and a variety of others fleeing Europe before many chose to go to America and Canada.
George VI&rsquos family was of German origin, our Queen married a Greek and the great grandfathers of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage were from Germany and Turkey respectively.
So we are all, to some extent, immigrants. Is this a bad thing?
The population of England and Britain is being changed by the fundamental improvements in transport and communication over the past 50 years.
This also means we can travel to most of the 54 member countries of the British Commonwealth as well as to the 27 members of the European Community.
It also means that members of the Commonwealth and the European Community can visit the UK. Some people now want to change this arrangement.
Immigrants bring ideas, energy and capital and they pay taxes. Statistically they are younger and healthier than the average English person and many do not stay here but return home, usually with positive memories and attitudes.
Most like and respect our way of life. It was our way of life that motivated them to visit the UK. Equally, most immigrants have no desire to change England or Britain.
Our younger people are keen to travel. They make free phone calls using Skype and other new online services. They want to visit the rest of the world and it&rsquos so much easier for them to do so using new communication tools.
Since 1990 the internet and mobile phones have transformed the world of our children and grandchildren, so older voters who do not use smart phones and online social media should not prevent future generations from developing England and Britain&rsquos future role in Europe and the EU.
Leaving the EU excludes us from contributing to all the fundamental European decisions affecting our children&rsquos future. Why do this?
We need to be at the heart of the European Union&rsquos policy, shaping decisions, using British common sense and reasonableness to cut unnecessary red tape and reduce EU bureaucracy, not walking away from our major customers in a huff.
We are all tired of the claims and counter claims and the passionate emotions that politicians of all the parties are making weekly, daily, hourly. Enough!
I find it strange that the many government and international institutions that we have trusted for decades are now being shrilly condemned by those politicians whose own education and practical knowledge of business is so limited.
The world&rsquos major investors and business leaders, the top decision makers, are saying they will cut investment and also make thousands of employees redundant. If we vote to leave the European Union theirs are the voices and the decisions that matter.
Many young people want this country to remain in the EU and they also want the chance to study and work abroad. They accept that this is a two-way deal. This is only fair and reasonable.
However, we can control the number of immigrants. We are an island nation. We have increasingly effective border controls, so we are able to control immigration much more effectively than many other EU members. We are outside the Schengen area and this helps to reduce migrants.
So, let us vote to remain in Europe and also let us resolve to improve the current and future European Commission&rsquos immigrant policies from within, together with the many smaller EU member countries, because they want us to stay as a member of the EU and they also support our vision of a more efficient, honest and prosperous Europe which they know Britain can help them to achieve. — Yours faithfully,
Ignore ‘facts&rsquo and vote out
Sir, — The EU debate is becoming surreal, both sides feverishly plucking figures out of the air to prove their point.
However, so-called experts are hopeless at forecasting, being proved wrong much more often than right.
Remember the howl of anguish when we were forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism? In the event, this was the best thing that could have happened because we thereby retained the pound sterling and escaped the Euro.
Even the Remain camp are not suggesting we ditch the pound, although we shall have to eventually if we do stay, it&rsquos one of the rules of the club.
All sorts of crazy notions are being paraded as “facts”, such as that if we leave we&rsquoll no longer be able to trade with Europe. Nonsense, of course we will.
There will no doubt be some adjustments but the bottom line is that the EU sells much more to us than we do to them.
The EU leaders may be corrupt, undemocratic and inefficient, but I doubt they&rsquore also suicidal. If, post-Brexit, they wanted to play silly games, we would just buy their EU products elsewhere.
Stripped of all the flummery, the choice is simple. Do we want to be governed by our own people, whom we elect and can dump if we don&rsquot like them, or submit to European dictatorship?
To claim that by staying in Europe we can influence Europe is a delusion. How much did Cameron actually achieve in his recent foray into Europe? Zilch.The UK is just one of 28 member states and makes up 12 per cent of its total population.
The EU parliament is little more than a remote talking shop, while the people who actually run the Brussels show are appointed, not elected, and cannot be removed.
We have fought wars to avoid this. We now have the chance of putting things right without shedding blood.
Do it. Vote leave. — Yours faithfully,
Wootton Road, Henley
EU is helping keep peace
Sir, — If your correspondent Edward Sierpowski (Standard, May 20) had lived through the Second World War he would have been able immediately to answer his 11-year-old son&rsquos question, “Why could leaving the EU spark a new world war?”
Those of us who did, together with parents who had experienced two world wars initiated by despots, know the reality of them and would never want to suffer another one.
The peace, now taken for granted, which we have enjoyed for the past 70 years is in no small way due to the existence of the EU.
It is by no means perfect, but jaw jaw is better than war war and it is imperative that the status quo remains.
Look at Putin and Kim Jong Un — both supporting Brexit and just waiting in the wings to break up the rest of the union.
Are those the bedfellows to which Mr Sierpowski would entrust his son&rsquos future? — Yours faithfully,
Wargrave Road, Henley
We&rsquod survive outside EU
Sir, — Many words have been written and much hot air expended on the subject of the EU referendum.
Surely it could, and should be encapsulated as follows:
1. If you are content for Britain to continue to be a 1/28th, at present, part of a superstate called Europe, controlled by unelected bureaucrats, vote remain.
2. If you would be happier for Britain to become once again an independent sovereign state with a democracy and rule of law, hard fought for over hundreds of years, and answerable only to its electorate, vote leave.
Whichever route is taken there will be change, but surely it is inconceivable that after so many centuries of practice we would be unable to survive perfectly adequately, in our usual phlegmatic and pragmatic way, without the overwhelming and ill-considered interference of (so very, very recently fledged) “Aunty Europe”. — Yours faithfully,
Mrs V Wheeler
Bradley Road, Nuffield
Make Britain ‘Great&rsquo again
Sir, — As we draw nearer to the EU referendum on June 23, the Remain (Project Fear) camp seem to come out with more fiction by the day about what would happen if we were to leave, for example:
We may be isolated if we leave.
It&rsquos possible house prices will fall.
It&rsquos likely that it would be difficult to trade with the EU.
The pound may fall against the euro.
Mortgage rates could rise.
Our borders will probably be weaker.
Maybe there will be unemployment.
The facts if we stay in the EU are as follows:
The cost will still be £20billion a year to be a member.
Our trade gap has a £60billion deficit.
Our exports to the EU have gone down from 54 per cent to 43 per cent over the past few years.
Our borders will be open to existing and all new countries that join.
We will not get our sovereignty back.
The EU will still make most of our laws by unelected people.
The gravy train will still be there — 16 years and still no audit.
The facts if we were to leave are as follows:
We will regain our sovereignty.
We will have our own democracy back and make our own laws.
We can fish in our own waters again rather than let EU countries fish in them.
We can trade with another 160 countries — that is another 10 billion people.
We can go back to trading with Commonwealth countries.
We will still have a seat on the UN security council and be members of NATO, the IMF, World Bank, WTO, G5/7/8/10/20, Interpol, UNECE, ISO, IEEE, WHO, IMO, ICAO and many more.
The UK is the world&rsquos fifth largest economy and we buy more BMWs than America, so trade will continue with the EU. We will choose who enters our borders in the future, not the EU.
We love the Europeans but we do not want to be ruled by them. Vote Leave and put the “Great” back into Britain on June 23. — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, UKIP Henley,
Elizabeth Road, Henley
Sir, — I know of a beautiful, talented woman who regrets that she married for money and has patiently endured years of domestic abuse.
Her husband has become more and more insistent that she does only his bidding and threatens her with all kinds of emotional and financial blackmail if she has anything to do with her old friends.
Also he is jolly beastly to her, expecting her to share his passion for certain French and German practices.
She is now considering divorce, knowing that he will never change his ways, but is frightened by his threat to financially cut her off if she goes ahead.
Her husband&rsquos advisers keep telling her not to upset him because he is close to bankruptcy and relies on her financial support.
She should just carry on as if all were well and in time she will come round to his way of thinking.
In her heart of hearts, she knows that they will always be incompatible and dreads the thought of continuing in this increasingly abusive relationship, dreading the thought of year upon year of constant arguing and bickering.
Dear Marge, what should she do — put up with his unreasonable demands and stay married just to keep the peace, or step away from this small group and seek out her many other friends, both old and new? — Yours faithfully,
B R Exiter (alias Dick Atkinson)
Drayton St Leonard, Oxon
P.S. She has very adequate personal funds with an array of talents.
P.P.S. She needs to make her mind up by June 23.
Trains aren&rsquot any faster
Sir, — I write in reference to the proposed introduction of a half-hourly off-peak train service on the Henley branch line.
Dissatisfaction among Wargrave users is an inevitable consequence of having their off-peak service frequency reduced in order to improve that from Henley and Shiplake.
But there are more searching questions which need to be asked rather than simply voicing dissatisfaction with Great Western Railway&rsquos proposals.
Remarkably, the 12-minute running time between Twyford and Henley has been basically unchanged for more than a century.
By 1891, and prior to the opening of Wargrave station, the running time had been reduced to 10/11 minutes compared with 15 minutes of broad gauge days but by 1901 it was consistently established as 12 minutes in each direction including the additional stop at Wargrave.
We are, of course, talking about a distance of barely five miles but the 12 minutes has lasted through several generations of steam trains and three generations of diesels.
State-of-the-art Nineties turbo diesel trains are no quicker than the GWR diesel railcars of the Thirties or the steam trains of 1901.
It is pertinent to ask why times have not been reduced, even by the couple of minutes or so that would be saved by not stopping at Wargrave.
Part of the answer lies in the need to produce a reliable timetable allowing for all sorts of variables and in practice it is noticeable that off-peak trains can beat the 12-minute timing due to shorter station dwell times and other factors.
But the far more important answer lies in the very nature of our branch line and the condition in which it is maintained. For decades the maximum permitted speed on the line has been 50mph apart from the restriction down to 25mph (previously 20mph) over the sharp curve approaching Twyford.
But in more recent years the speed over the River Thames viaduct has been reduced to 30mph. In itself the time cost of that speed reduction is miniscule — less than 10 seconds — but because the viaduct lies less than a quarter mile from Wargrave station it limits the ability of a train to accelerate up to line speed after leaving there towards Henley and equally means premature slowing for a train in the opposite direction, thus increasing the time cost of the lower speed.
Similarly, the lower speed of 25mph approaching Twyford has been extended almost a quarter of a mile (15 chains to be precise) towards Wargrave, again imposing a time penalty due to earlier braking and the lower speed.
These restrictions mean the full acceleration potential of the modern diesel trains cannot be exploited and presumably the situation will not change with the introduction of electric trains unless either the 50mph speed is restored or, hopefully, increased to 60mph to allow better use of their improved acceleration characteristics?
If trains were allowed shorter running times then the Wargrave stop could perhaps be accommodated — electric trains or not.
The ability for trains on a half-hourly interval to call at Wargrave perhaps lies as much in Network Rail&rsquos hands as it does in GWR&rsquos and it would be interesting to learn what plans it has for the branch line to accompany electrification.
It is more than 40 years since I wrote a special timetable for the branch line for Henley Regatta in which I purposely excluded Wargrave stops from some trains in order to gain a few minutes to obtain the line capacity I needed for extra trains.
So far as I know nobody ever complained about the lack of Wargrave stops but it was of course a special, and limited, occasion.
But what has not changed since then are the fundamentals of train timing, which revolve around acceleration and deceleration and maximum achievable speeds. These create the building blocks from which a timetable is developed and if any one of them is constrained the timing and hence timetabling options are reduced.
Such is the present case on the Henley branch line where speeds have been reduced and the advances of even third generation diesel trains cannot be fully exploited. Will the electric trains be similarly constrained I wonder?
On a more personal note, the introduction of a 30-minute off-peak interval is a welcome step — but then I live in Henley.
But I do wonder about the consequences of running a shuttle timetable as it seems inevitable that connections will be broken if mainline services are running late.
Thirty minutes might not be too long to wait but an hour for a Wargrave passenger is not going to be quite the same thing. And presumably that awful 60-minute gap in afternoon trains from Twyford will vanish?
Finally, a plea from me — please, please, GWR, do something to improve the abysmal Saturday train frequency. Even 45 minutes would be a real step forwards, although in my case it would hit your car parking revenue at Reading.
Oh, and while you&rsquore at it, a decent off-peak connecting service from Twyford to London would be nice too (I hold out no hope at all for that one). — Yours faithfully,
Cromwell Road, Henley
Shoppers who park selfishly
Sir, — When shopping at Tesco I notice how many non-disabled people park in the disabled bays and how many people without children park in the parent and child parking spaces.
Isn&rsquot it ironic (as Alanis Morrisette might have said) that the people who flout such rules nearly all seem to smoke/be overweight or both and could probably do with the exercise?
Let&rsquos hope that if they are ever in need of this facility the spaces won&rsquot be taken by such selfish people as themselves. — Yours faithfully,
Not suitable for housing...
Sir, — In response to the letter from Laura Howard (Standard, May 20) the site being proposed for housing at Thames Farm is certainly within the area covered by the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.
The site was considered during the preparation of the plan and was deemed less suitable for housing than other sites for various reasons.
It is a greenfield location in an area of countryside between the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Thames.
The development would be too far from the facilities of Henley and it would inevitably add to the congestion on the Henley-Reading road. If the proposal were to be approved it would result in the neighbourhood plan area accommodating almost 600 new dwellings instead of the 400 originally allocated to Henley when the plan was initiated (and increased to 500 during the statutory approval process).
It would be interesting to know how many of those who have written in support of the Thames Farm proposal realise that the housing would be additional to the 500 dwellings already adopted in the plan (of which 40 per cent should be affordable) and that it would not be an alternative to other sites. — Yours faithfully,
D C Whitehead
Chairman, Henley Society planning committee
...or the ideal location
Sir, — Thames Farm is ideal for housing. It&rsquos on the main road, it has a bus stop outside, a station nearby and no designation.
The only obstacle is politics and keeping the councillors in Shiplake happy, which is ridiculous. Come on, housing is needed, so get a move on and approve this great location and stop protecting Nimbys. It&rsquos a farce. — Yours faithfully,
Norman Avenue, Henley
Important to follow rules
Sir, — The reply (Standard, May 20) from Gill Saxon, human resources manager at Hare Hatch Sheeplands, to my letter the previous week is noted.It contained the garden centre&rsquos case again so I was surprised that you publicised it.
Ms Saxon attempts to pick at virtually every word in my short letter and questions my knowledge on planning.
Enough to say that, as a chartered surveyor, I do understand British planning and the reasoning behind it, which is precisely the reason for writing.
I have no intention of attempting to respond to each point and nit pick with more lengthy correspondence but reiterate that planning laws and regulations are there for the protection of us all, the protection of the Green Belt and to ensure that development is appropriate.
Planners have a duty to uphold the laws of England and Wales and would be failing in this duty to ignore the facts of this case.
If anyone in Wokingham borough saw, for example, a planning application for a two-storey extension on their boundary overlooking and obscuring light they would immediately object and expect the planners to intervene.
Similarly, any use which is non-conforming with the district plan has to be challenged.
To repeat comments in my first letter, planning laws are for the protection of us all and 99.99 per cent of the UKÂ complies.
Great emphasis was placed on a petition but this was signed by customers without in-depth knowledge of the planning situation but purely to “Save Sheeplands”.
Such a document has no place in planning law or determining what is right or wrong.
Sheeplands does offer a service to the local community and it is popular but to continue it must comply. The High Court will make its decision in due course. — Yours faithfully,
ldon Ferguson, FRICS, MRAeS
Bridge may be the start...
Sir, — I am uncertain as to whether Dirk Jones is painting a rosy picture or a doom-laden scenario (Standard, May 27).
Presumably that will depend on your reaction to the perpetually proposed third Reading bridge.
Mr Jones foresees the necessary revival of the Dog on Peppard Common to cater for the extra traffic and for the travellers who will be in need of sustenance.
Perhaps the Lamb at Satwell and the Dog and Duck at Highmoor will also have a bright future once the new bridge has been built. All three lie on the B481 but it was not the A481 once, as Mr Jones claims. It was the A4009 from Caversham to Nettlebed and parts of that road were also the route of the Reading-Nettlebed No 7 bus service with the smaller double-deckers of the time.
Mr Jones suggests the need for a bridge across the dry valley at Peppard to avoid the 16 degree hill and sharp bends.
Looking further north, can we also postulate by-pass roads for Nettlebed and Watlington and another man-made defile through the Chiltern escarpment? — Yours faithfully,
K B Atkinson
Red House Drive, Sonning Common
Rowing club is moving on
Sir, — In recent weeks, these pages have carried a number of letters about the difficulties Henley Rowing Club has encountered over the last 18 months in relation to the British Rowing investigation into the conduct of three of our officers.
Some letters have emphasised the importance of volunteering to community sport in this country, particularly in Henley. We wholeheartedly endorse that view.
Other letters have been less welcome, seeking to criticise or blame others, directly or by implication.
We, as a club, want to move on and we will be working together to achieve this. We cannot ignore the judgment made by British Rowing and we have learned important lessons from it.
Despite our difficulties, by all normal standards, 2015 was a fantastic year for Henley Rowing Club.
Our senior women won two events at Henley Women&rsquos Regatta, the pinnacle of success at club level in the UK.
The junior women were successful at Henley Women&rsquos Regatta as well as at the National Schools Regatta and the national championships.
The junior men won numerous events around the country and the senior men also did well for a very small group.
Later in the year, with the return of Ian Desmond, the coach of our winning Thames Cup crew in 2005, the senior men&rsquos squad began to grow again and in 2016 they are once again developing into a real force in club rowing.
A recent development has been the growth of an enthusiastic group of older members, some taking up rowing for the first time later in life. This “masters” group is bringing much to the club in terms of a breadth of experience that is proving invaluable in the management of the club.
Henley Rowing Club is healthy. It is healthy largely because of the efforts of volunteers. In fact, the sport of rowing at club level is almost wholly reliant on volunteers, coaches, umpires, timekeepers, event organisers.
John Friend, Jeff Morgan and David Lister have all given many years of voluntary service to the sport, in many roles and at all levels.
David is now back coaching seniors, as permitted by British Rowing. We very much hope that, in time, John and Jeff, both of whom have dedicated decades of service to Henley Rowing Club, will also feel able to return.
On behalf of the club, we thank them for all they have done over the years. All squad coaches and officers of Henley Rowing Club are volunteers. They give of their time freely and generously for the furtherance of the sport and for the benefit of the athletes, young and older, who represent the club with such distinction year in, year out.
We have been doing this for 177 years and fully intend that this will continue for at least as long again.
We thank all our many supporters, who have stuck with us through these difficult times.
We now want to build on the many positive aspects of the club we love and move on to still greater success in the future, both in terms of competition and the joy we are able to bring to the young people of Henley and the wider area. — Yours faithfully,
Chairman, Henley Rowing Club
Sir, — I was a patient in Wallingford Hospital from May 12 to 27 being treated for a viral infection.
Last Friday I was discharged and taken by patient ambulance transport to attend a consultation with a spinal stenosis surgeon at the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford.
The appointment had been booked some two months prior. I have suffered from spinal stenosis for some 14 years and have practically no mobility and can only walk with assisted aid.
Wallingford Hospital had arranged the transport to take me to this appointment and then take me back to my home in Henley.
The Nuffield appointment was booked for 10.30am and I arrived at the reception area at 10.25am. I then waited two hours before being seen by the surgeon.
I had been with him for barely five minutes when staff knocked at the door to say that the ambulance booked to take me home was waiting.
The surgeon told the staff to send the ambulance away as my appointment had not finished.
The appointment lasted about 45 minutes and I was then kept in an very uncomfortable sitting position for about another five hours (bearing in mind I had previously been bed-ridden) to wait for transport to take me home.
The reception staff apologised but that was no help as I was now suffering with feet that had become totally numb and a backside that I was barely able to sit on.
What recourse have I got to a health organisation that has no care for elderly patients like myself and is devoid of thinking about care? — Yours faithfully,
Grateful to hospital staff
Sir, — I write to express my thanks and praise to the staff at Townlands Hospital in Henley.
My three-year-old daughter Celia took a tumble down our stairs, so we took her to Townlands.
The team saw us immediately, checked her over and took care of us all until an ambulance came to take her to the Royal Berkshire Hosital in Reading for a check-up. All was well in the end.
The staff were so kind — they kept Celia calm and reassured (as well as mum and dad) and were so very efficient and professional. The new hospital is very smart. We are very lucky to have the hospital and its wonderful staff in our town. — Yours faithfully,
Greys Road, Henley
Nature notes for mid-May
Sir, — May 16: On the Channel the gannets (long necks and bills, black wing tips) flew low and fast north towards their gannetries on the islets surrounding Britain, where 40 per cent of the world&rsquos gannets quarrel endlessly over their rocky ledges.
Nearer Caen they swooped and dived among the gulls gathered over a shoal beside a little French trawler.
The blossom of Falaise was a week or two ahead of ours and the wisteria in Monet&rsquos crowded garden was in full flower and scent but not humming with bees.
The swallows settled to sleep precariously in their half-built mud nests in the window corners of the village hall as we ate our evening meal.
Gifts of lilies of the valley, radishes and cider accompanied us home.
Back by the River Thames, the penn is sitting tight on her nest on Red Lion Lawn as the cobb patrols along beside her. Do not expect too much from this as birds which nest in such stressful areas, where there is constant artificial noise, have low breeding rates.
And what has happened to the robin family? No constant stream of visits to the nest in the ivy and yet no stupid ball of speckled brown fluff cowering on a sunny branch in the shrubbery. Was it the magpie, the cat or the cold weather? And will they nest there again?
A cumbersome pigeon is staggering over the flower- beds picking up sticks and proudly holding them up to its partner before taking off over the fence.
This cooler period is called the lambing snow in the Highlands, the Eissankten in Germany and Les Saints de Gel in France because of the Holy Days in early May.
May 21 and 22: If you walk the Thames bank in the evening, you will see the mayflies hatching, flying up on translucent wings in search of the queen, their three streamers floating from the tip of the abdomen.
They are harmless and indeed do not feed but mate and die; of course their order is ephemeroptera.
The swallows swoop over the bridge, feasting on them, perhaps before the queen can drop her eggs back into the river, where the nymphs will feed for a year or two, before emerging and moulting into these again into beautiful striped flies. — Yours faithfully,
Truly joyful place to be
Sir, — I would like to draw attention to the excellent results achieved by Gillotts School following the recent Ofsted inspection (Standard, May 27).
We are exceptionally lucky to have such a school in Henley that is accessible to all our children but luck has little to do with the results and the progress made over the last few years.
It has been the commitment, focus, dedication, aspiration, vision and sheer hard work of Catharine Darnton and her team of outstanding teachers, fully supported by an active board of governors and enthusiastic parents, all of whom really care about our children, our local school and the community it serves.
Teachers, education and our schools are often used as political footballs (especially now), compared with better times when we were all young and blamed for the many ills of our society.
Given this tough background, it is even more impressive that some schools can stand out as truly “joyful” places to be and we have one of those right here in Henley. — Yours faithfully,
St Mark&rsquos Road,
Buy to help Bethlehem
Sir, — Thank you for your article on the film Open Bethlehem, which will be shown in the Chantry House in Henley on Thursday (Standard, May 27).
We look forward to the film-maker herself coming to tell us exactly what Bethlehem is going through.But as well as gaining awareness of Bethlehem&rsquos plight, we can also help in practical ways by buying her products.
At least one church in Henley now orders communion wine from Bethlehem and you can obtain super olive oil, dates etc online from www.zaytoun.org or buy from Fair Trade shops in Reading or Oxford. — Yours faithfully,
Northfield End, Henley
Caring voice will be missed
Sir, — It was with great sadness that I learned last week of the passing of Bruce Mason.
For a number of years he had been a reliable colleague in Henley Residents&rsquo Group and an active member of the executive committee.
I never learnt whether or not he had any strong political sympathies or affiliations, but it was clear that he very much valued Henley having independent voices on the town council and he was even prepared to stand as a candidate himself.
In discussion he frequently had his own distinct view and never held back from expressing it. He could be provocative but was always positive and concerned about what was best for the town.
We are thankful for what he contributed and we will miss him. — Yours faithfully,
Treasurer, Henley Residents&rsquo Group,
Walton Avenue, Henley
Sir, — You published a very kind review of our big charity vintage festival last week and I hope you will now be kind enough to publish this.
I want to thank all those who helped to make the event such a success. While I have no help during the planning and prep of the event, once set-up is under way the estate teems with volunteers.
McAlpine employees come and do the technical stuff, Coys sent people to organise the cars, our wonderful firemen take a busman&rsquos holiday and bring their own fire engines “just in case”, charity volunteers set up stalls and “sell” their charities like mad, hundreds of vehicles arrive at their owners&rsquo cost to be admired and sometimes ridden, the heavy horses, the unicorn, Sunday&rsquos camels, all come just for the love of it.
On stage throughout the weekend is a plethora of unpaid local talent (and not-so-local MP4!).
Fawley Montessori School always acts as a “crÃ¨che”, Erik, our local vet, helps the Ways and Means Trust to run the dog show, Ben Fogle “ran” the Labrador challenge and our estate manager pulls in his entire family to do all the jobs no one else wants to do and, this year, to pull cars off slippery fields.
Thank you, too, to all those who bought tickets. After all, without visitors, it would all be a waste of effort and money.
As it is, the charities who have reported in all seem to have exceeded their expectations. Even those who reaped less than £1,000 were ecstatic about the new support they had mustered.
I can&rsquot say how much we raised as I haven&rsquot yet had all the bills for the tents, lighting and sound, loos, traffic management and security as well as Paul Clerehugh&rsquos delicious Friday night dinner.
I do know he catered for 400 but 476 people actually had dinner! I closed ticket sales but people went on buying online without my knowledge, so thanks for your generous provision, Paul!
Thank you, the Henley Standard, for your support, not just for this event but for all the local charitable events that might have very few visitors were it not for the help you give them.
I have been going through more than 3,000 emails since May 22 and those that are not junk are from visitors saying how much they enjoyed the event. Please pat yourselves on the back if you helped to make it.
Finally, I have to apologise to the “village” for worse than usual traffic. Sadly, the traffic management team who have been so good in the past were not this time. I am already talking to a different company for next year.
Next year? Believe it or not, people have started buying tickets! So yes, May 12 to 14, 2017. Will Elvis be here on the 12th? I hope so. — Yours faithfully,
Thank you for kindness
Sir, — While out on a bike ride with my father and a group of friends along the Stonor valley on Sunday, my father was unfortunate to hit a pothole and have a nasty accident.
I would llike to say a big thank-you to all those who stopped to help direct traffic, attend to my father and assist while we awaited the ambulance.
The number of drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists who stopped to offer help to a complete stranger was genuinely heart-warming.
The patience and consideration shown by drivers held up was also greatly appreciated.
We were also lent a couple of blankets to keep my father warm. One was left behind and I&rsquod like to return it to the owner if possible.My father, although bruised and battered, only required a few stitches and suffered no broken bones. Having hit the pothole at nearly 30mph, he could have been a lot worse off.Once again, thank you to all the kind and generous people who helped us in our hour of need. — Yours faithfully,
Priest Close, Nettlebed
P.S. For those wondering, the bike&rsquos fine — like the rider, a bit scuffed but will make a full recovery.
Who stole our wheelbarrow?
Sir, — Last Saturday night, our much-used wheelbarrow vanished. It was used to lug rubbish up to the end of our yard and is greatly missed.
We would like it back or perhaps some kind sould has one they could donate please. Thanks in anticipation. — Yours faithfully,
Volunteer, Oxfam shop,
Market Place, Henley
Glowing in the dark
Sir, — Henley looks good at night too!
Here is the lovely St Mary&rsquos Church reflected in the River Thames. The picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. — Yours faithfully,
Chelsea&rsquos floral tribute to the fallen
Sir, — I thought you might be interested in publishing this photograph from Chelsea Flower Show last week.
It shows the 300,000 crocheted poppies to remember the fallen outside the Royal Hospital. — Yours faithfully,
Poppy Appeal organiser, Henley
Why is cemetery such a mess (again)?
Sir, — The new part of the Fairmile Cemetery in Henley is kept nice with the grass cut (including the vast space which is not in use) while the older part is overgrown and neglected.
I reported this last year and was informed by the then town clerk Mike Kennedy that the grass was kept long because of the wild- flowers.
But, as you can see in the top photograph, except for a dandelion or two, there seems to be no evidence of flowers — just extremely long grass which looks an absolute mess.
I visit the cemetery most Saturdays and I am horrified that it has been left to get into such a terrible state.
Would it not be better to leave the vast space that is part of the new section and unused to become a wildflower meadow until it is needed and keep the rest of the cemetery tidy as it was in the past?
If the town council does not want the expense of keeping the grass cut why not let one of the local farmers keep a few sheep in the cemetery to keep the grass tidy? I know of several places that do this and their churchyards always look well kept. — Yours faithfully,
Reading Road, Henley
Sir, — I often visit my wife&rsquos grave at Fairmile Cemetery and feel disgusted at how it looks.
It must be extremely upsetting for anyone attending the funeral of a loved one to be surrounded by long grass and weeds. Also it is not a very good impression for relatives or friends who travel from elsewhere.
Years ago the cemetery was well maintained and always looked tidy. I cannot understand why the new area, most of which is unused, is kept cut while the rest of the cemetery, where many people still have loved ones buried, is left and looks an absolute mess.
The council charges a fee of £290 for maintenance for each funeral but must be in breach of contract because the cemetery is not maintained. It should be kept looking better than its present state. — Yours faithfully,
Knappe Close, Henley
Henley town clerk Janet Wheeler responds: “Henley Town Council takes the upkeep of the cemetery very seriously.
“We have areas where wildflowers have been allowed to flower. However, the inevitable result of wildflowers is that they look unkempt immediately before they flower and immediately after. This is not months of neglect.
“The Community Payback team were due to visit the cemetery last week to carry out this work but they failed to turn up.
“Furthermore our parks team is one-and-a-half men down on numbers at the busiest time of the year.”
Treat for if you missed flying visitor
Sir, — You often get some delightful sunsets or riverside photos sent in by readers.
Well, on Saturday, Flying Scotsman passed through Twyford twice on a day trip from Paddington to Salisbury. Some of us were there for that treat. This is for those who missed it. — Yours faithfully,