Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Review of the Year 2018: Part two

Review of the Year 2018: Part two

JULY

RESIDENTS of Northend have criticised Thames Water after being left with little or no water for more than a week.

The village ran dry on Monday last week when nothing came out of their taps for most of the day. Since then the same thing has happened a number of times and even when the supply returns the pressure is often low.

The company says it is investigating the problem, which has happened during one of the driest summer periods on record with temperatures above 30C.

Villagers, who include very elderly people and some very young babies, have had to stock up on bottled water and avoid using their showers and toilets at certain times of the day.

A DELIVERY van driver ran over and killed a family’s cat in front of two children as she slept in the road.

Sue Guy-Spratt says Bonnie, her tortoiseshell tabby, refused to move out of the man’s way so he just drove over her. But instead of apologising, the man said, “I just thought it was a bit of roadkill”.

Ms Guy-Spratt, 33, has since received an apology from Tesco, for whom the driver was delivering goods in Railway Cottages, off Reading Road in Goring.

The incident happened at about 7.30pm on June 28 but was not seen by Ms Guy-Spratt who was in her back garden having a barbecue with her partner, children Leo, 12, Jasmine, 11, and Willow, three, and some friends.

However, it was witnessed by her neighbour Nikki Allen’s daughter Lyla, 10, and a woman who was dropping Lyla home after a playdate with her daughter, who also saw it.

SOARING temperatures and World Cup fever marked this year’s Henley Royal Regatta.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the town for the 179th annual rowing extravaganza, which ended with finals day on Sunday when 14 race records were broken.

As usual, the banks were a sea of colour thanks to women in their summer dresses and men in rowing blazers, while on the water spectators were in all types of boats, from traditional wooden craft to motor cruisers, hired rowing boats and fun vessels.

Spectators basked in the heatwave as temperatures topped 32C and regatta chairman Sir Steve Redgrave gave permission for men in the stewards’ enclosure to remove their jackets on four of the five days of racing. On Saturday and Sunday the heat was so intense that jackets could be removed as early as 10.30am for only the fifth time in more than 40 years.

THE chief executive of the Henley Festival has hailed this year’s event a success after selling out three nights for the first time in more than 10 years.

Charlotte Geeves said capacity crowds of 6,400 people attended shows by Rita Ora on the opening night, Nile Rodgers on Friday and Curtis Stigers on Saturday on the “floating” stage.

A total of 27,300 people attended the 37th annual five-day extravaganza of music and the arts, compared with 26,500 last year.

Ms Geeves said: “We have had incredibly positive feedback throughout the whole week and since the festival finished and, because of that, I would say it was an incredible result.”

A BOY whose cancer has returned has gone to a hospital in Turkey for revolutionary treatment which could save his life.

Charlie Ilsley, 11, flew to Ankara with his mother Toni and father Mark to undergo CyberKnife treatment, the latest radiotherapy technology, in an attempt to eradicate two tumours on his spine.

Charlie, of Buckingham Drive, Emmer Green, had been in remission since March 2016, a year after having a brain tumour about the size of a snooker ball removed.

But in March the Ilsleys received the news they had been dreading after the tumours on his spine were discovered.

A HENLEY councillor has appeared on TV’s Come Dine With Me.

Sarah Miller, of Reading Road, Henley, scoring 28 out of 40 points from her fellow diners for her French-themed menu, which included oeufs en cocotte, beef bourguignon and tarte au citron.

Ms Miller, 54, was beaten to the £1,000 prize by customer care manager Susan Ridgeon and auditor John Grant-Casey, who both scored 31.

AUGUST

ARMED robbers escaped after a daring raid on a jeweller’s shop in Henley town centre.

The three men — dressed from head to toe in black and with their faces covered — struck at Anthony Paul Jewellery in Bell Street on Wednesday.

One was carrying a knife and another held a club hammer which he used to smash the right-hand pane of the shop’s front windows.

Then all three stuffed jewellery, mostly diamond engagement rings in cases, into rucksacks.

They fled along the alleyway on the opposite side of the street between Sainsbury’s and Boots, which emerges on to the King’s Road car park, where they made off in a vehicle.

A RESTAURATEUR has thanked firefighters after a blaze which destroyed 20 hectares of arable land almost claimed his business.

Chef Ryan Simpson-Trotman, who runs Orwells in Shiplake, had to evacuate his staff and diners during the drama.

The fire broke out at about 1pm on Thursday last week after farm machinery caught alight in a straw field behind the restaurant in Shiplake Row that had been dried out by the heatwave.

The flames spread quickly across the field in the strong winds and thick plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles around.

About 60 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus spent more than an hour bringing the fire under control and preventing it from spreading into nearby fields.

The blaze destroyed the restaurant’s fence, bin area and damaged an outbuilding.

Mr Simpson-Trotman, who runs the restaurant with his husband Liam, said: “If the firefighters hadn’t been there Orwells would have been in flames. I feel very, very lucky.”

THE parking enforcement firm which has issued dozens of unfair fines to patients at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley is set to be axed.

Health Minister Stephen Barclay says NHS Property Services, which owns the site off York Road, is tendering for a new company to run all its car parks nationwide.

This is unlikely to be Smart Parking, which has faced repeated calls to be sacked from Townlands following complaints from patients, as highlighted by the Henley Standard’s Not Very Smart parking campaign.

In correspondence with Henley MP John Howell, Mr Barclay said the new contractor was due to be appointed next month and Townlands would be transferred to it “in due course”.

FORMER Henley Hawks star James Comben has lost his fight against cancer.

The 29-year-old fly-half died on Sunday — just two months after marrying his partner Elle Thomson at St Mary the Virgin Church in Hambleden.

He was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer, in February 2017. He went through two bouts of chemotherapy and had hoped for a bone marrow transplant from his sister but in May he was told by doctors that the disease had spread and was incurable.

Mr Comben, who lived in Marlow, had written about his fight with the disease on his online blog.

A GIRL who inspired a campaign to have defibrillators installed in Henley rushed to fetch one after an elderly man collapsed in a supermarket after a suspected heart attack.

Millie Roberts, 11, ran from Waitrose in Bell Street to the HSBC bank in Market Place to collect the life-saving device while her mother Sarah and other shoppers tried to resuscitate the 90-year-old.

They managed to get the man’s heart started again before paramedics arrived but he died later at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Millie, who lives with her mother in King’s Road, Henley, was diagnosed with a heart and lung condition in 2013, which prompted Miss Roberts to launch the Millie’s Dream appeal.

She aimed to raise enough money to install defibrillators at 10 schools in the area but the response was so great that she expanded the appeal and, to date, it has provided 60 devices at schools, businesses, sports clubs and community venues.

A WOMAN walked down the aisle on crutches on her wedding day only weeks after breaking her leg and suffering a stroke.

Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury, 76, a Sonning Common parish councillor, married semi-retired flight instructor Derek Godfrey, 82, on Saturday.

The ceremony at Wallingford town hall took place exactly 21 days after she was injured in a fall when the couple were visiting Blenheim Palace.

SEPTEMBER

A WOMAN gave her partner the surprise of his life when she renovated their Henley home in secret as he recovered from a major skiing injury.

John Jackson fractured and dislocated his left kneecap and tore the ligaments after he hit a snowdrift during a family holiday in France.

The 44-year-old could not return to the house he shares in Harpsden Road, Henley, with his partner Charlotte Fairweather because he couldn’t put any weight on either leg for several months and their property has no downstairs bedroom or toilet.

Instead, the couple and their sons, Samuel, seven, and Arthur, one. temporarily moved in with her parents Paul and Angie in Rotherfield Greys.

But while Mr Jackson had two operations at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and underwent a course of physiotherapy, his partner secretly pressed ahead with the refurbishment of the ground floor of their home which they had discussed before the accident in April.

Dr Fairweather, 36, a doctor for the England women’s rugby team, had two internal walls demolished to create an open-plan living space between the lounge, kitchen and internal porch.

THE chairman of the Henley Conservatives has resigned following a rebellion within his party.

Frank Browne, who held the position for just over a year, quit following a vote of no confidence at a special general meeting. Councillor Julian Brookes, the leader of the Conservatives on the town council, said an “overwhelming” majority had voted in favour of a motion that the direction of the party would be best served without Mr Browne leading it.

JOUSTING knights wearing full suits of armour were among the attractions at this year’s Henley Show.

Thousands of people attended the 127th annual event, which was held at the Greenlands Farm showground off Marlow Road on Saturday.

The main arena drew some of its biggest ever crowds when the Knights of Middle England, a stunt team based at Warwick Castle, performed twice.

They included “Sir Stephen of Southern Plant”, who carried a yellow shield with a logo celebrating the Henley plant and tool hire firm’s 30th anniversary, and a female rider sponsored by the Countess of Macclesfield.

A SHOP was ram-raided for the second time in four years.

A stolen silver Land Rover Discovery was reversed over a steel bollard and into the front window of the Co-operative Food shop in Bridle Path, Woodcote, on Sunday.

Four men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas got out of the cars and smashed the shop window with sledgehammers and axes.

They then tried to remove a cash machine and load it into the Land Rover but after several failed attempts they fled.

The gang returned less than two hours later to try again but failed and drove off. Their haul included a bottle of Lambrini.

A NEW children’s playground and outdoor gym in Henley have been officially opened.

Dozens of people attended the ceremony and celebrations at Makins recreation ground in Greys Road on Saturday.

The ribbons were cut by Deputy Mayor Ken Arlett and fitness trainer and gym owner Angie Best.

The playground features a 25m steel cableway, a 4m “pirate’s lair”, a crusader rope swing, a swirl roundabout, slides and swings and also includes a toddler zone.

The project cost Henley Town Council £80,000. The outdoor gym cost £10,000, which was paid for by the town council and South Oxfordshire District Council.

A BOY from Henley has produced a music video for Sir Tim Rice.

Connor Botha, 12, was invited by the award-winning lyricist to create the film for his song The Nova Scotian Duck Tolling Retriever thanks to his mother Angela, a physiotherapist.

Sir Tim discussed the song with her while he was attending an appointment at the Physiolistic sports injury clinic at Henley Rugby Club, which she runs with her husband Clint.

He told her he needed a promotional film clip and she replied that her son had a keen interest in the subject. Connor, a pupil at Gillotts School in Henley, has been shooting and editing videos of family films since he was eight.

Sir Tim, 73, who lives near Hambleden, invited him to produce a rough cut of the video which they then edited together. The film will be released on YouTube and the lyricist’s website.

A NEW £4 million fitness centre at Phyllis Court Club in Henley has been officially opened.

It features a 20m swimming pool, state-of-the-art gym, exercise studio, saunarium and treatment and changing rooms.

Club chairman Barry Jackson officially opened the building and the ceremony was attended by members, trustees and Dione Venables, niece of Captain Roy Finlay, who founded the private members’ club.

THE speed limit on roads in Henley town centre is to be made 20mph.

The move by the town council is designed to reduce air pollution and make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

It has been approved by Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, and is expected to be implemented in November.

The idea was conceived more than 10 years ago and when the formal proposal finally went out to public consultation in the summer 83 per cent of respondents supported it.

The council will spend £18,000 on introducing the scheme, which includes the cost of illuminated signs at the approaches to the restricted area and other signs inside it.

OCTOBER

A COUPLE have told of how a gang of armed robbers broke into their house in the middle of the night and stole cash and jewellery worth more than £50,000.

Adrian Pead was hit with a hammer and kicked in front of his wife Victoria Reeve during the raid at their home in Pearson Road, Sonning. She had a hand placed over her mouth to stop her screaming.

Neither was seriously injured during their 10-minute ordeal at the hands of the three men who were dressed in black and had scarves over their faces.

The gang escaped in Mr Pead’s car which they then dumped shortly afterwards.

The couple’s two young children were also in the house when the robbers broke in at about 12.30am on Thursday last week.

Mrs Reeve, 42, said: “As I’ve said to many people, it’s your worst nightmare. When you go to bed at night, you feel like you’re safe in your own sanctuary no matter what’s happening in the outside world.”

JANE HAWKING criticised the Oscar-nominated film adaptation of her memoir, saying it distorted facts about her life with her late ex-husband Stephen Hawking.

Her book, Travelling to Infinity, was adapted into 2015’s The Theory of Everything starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne.

Speaking at the Henley Literary Festival, she said inaccuracies in the film were being immortalised as fact.

TWO gardeners from the Henley area have claimed Guinness world records for their giant vegetables.

Tim Saint, from Playhatch, grew the heaviest red cabbage at 23.7kg while Gary Heeks, of Lawson Road, Henley, was crowned the celery king with a super-sized specimen weighing 42kg.

The records were set at the CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Mr Saint, 37, said: “It’s like winning a gold medal I suppose, really special, the crème de la crème.”

TWINS from Henley are starring in a Marks & Spencer campaign promoting a new range of clothes for children with disabilities.

Edward and Celia Newton, five, of Greys Road, modelled the clothes from the retailer’s “easy dressing” collection — the first of its kind on the high street.

The clothes have been specially adapted to make dressing less stressful for children and parents.

Celia is able-bodied but Edward suffers from hemiplegia, a type of cerebral palsy that affects his right side, and epilepsy, which makes it difficult for his mother Emma to dress him.

The new designs are identical to M&S’s standard range so children can wear the same clothes as their friends or siblings.

Mrs Newton said: “This range is great. I haven’t seen anything else like this before and Edward loved how cool the clothes looked.

NOVEMBER

A DISPUTE has broken out over the cost of street cleaning carried out in Henley town centre in the summer.

Contractor Dream Cleaners claims it is owed more than £12,500 by the town council on top of the £5,005 it has already been paid. But the council says it did not authorise a higher payment for cleaning the whole town centre and ordered work to stop once it discovered this was continuing without agreement.

THE chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion has thanked the public for its support over the remembrance weekend.

John Green was speaking after thousands of people attended the Armistice Day parade and services in Henley and the surrounding villages with some of the biggest turnouts in years.

Mr Green, who carried the Legion’s standard during Sunday’s parade in Henley, said: “To see the community of Henley and the area come together in such huge numbers to honour the fallen and pray for hope and peace in the future was very moving. Thank you to you all.”

A HENLEY town councillor has quit the Conservatives after less than a year, saying she was treated unfairly.

Donna Crook, who won a by-election in January, claims she was excluded and ignored by her party colleagues. She will now sit as an Independent councillor in the Henley North ward but says she may not stand at the next council elections in May.

Councillor Crook, 44, who lives in Abrahams Road, resigned on Friday in an email to Henley branch chairman Daniel Bausor and Kevin Thorpe, of the Oxfordshire Conservatives. She said: “I don’t feel I’m being listened to and [am] often ignored and have felt at times excluded. I had my ideas taken off of me for someone else to take the credit in meetings, which I really am unhappy about.

“I have felt I’ve been doing most of the hard work and because I’ve got some recognition others have become resentful — well, if some of them weren’t so bone idle then I wouldn’t have had to carry them.

“Also, if you’re a woman you are not treated fairly and God forbid you mention wanting to be mayor.”

A HOUSE in Stoke Row has a starring role in this year’s Christmas TV advertising campaign by Waitrose.

The frontage and gardens of Little Acorns, which is owned by Georg and Clare Bleimschein, can be seen covered in a thick layer of artificial snow in the series of adverts to be shown before the big day.

The Bleimscheins have owned the property off Main Street since 2006.

TELEVISION presenter Simon Thomas opened a “quiet garden” created in memory of his late wife at Sonning Primary School.

Mr Thomas cut a ribbon with his nine-year-old son Ethan, a pupil at the school, in front of other pupils, staff, parents and governors on Friday.

Gemma Thomas, 40, died in November last year, just three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

The garden features flower beds and a covered area with seating and benches as well as games and educational tools.

A plaque in memory of Mrs Thomas reads: “A mum at this school who loved this place, loved this school and all it stands for. May this garden be a place that reflects her — loving, understanding and always compassionate.”

Mr Thomas, a former Sky Sports presenter who lives in Caversham, said: “I’m very touched by it. Gemma would have wanted something put back into the school and they wanted to refurbish this quiet garden.”

DECEMBER

WITH concerns about an obesity crisis among Britain’s children, one school is helping to prevent it.

Shiplake Primary School has a weekly running club that is helping pupils to stay healthy and perform better in the classroom.

Almost a quarter of the pupils, on average, takes part in the run on Tuesday mornings, running distances of up to four miles around farmland off Memorial Avenue, opposite the school.

Organiser and year two teacher Helen Boucher said that not only had the children’s fitness improved but they were more focused in lessons and had grown in confidence.

A BOY battling cancer is having to spend Christmas in Turkey with his family after his treatment was delayed.

Charlie Ilsley, 11, was due to have his stem cells harvested but caught a bad cough so the process was postponed until he was well enough.

His parents Mark and Toni are now hoping that the treatment can be carried out before the New Year at the Memorial Hospital in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

THIS year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar raised £5,600 for charity.

The eighth annual fund-raiser failed to surpass last year’s record total of £5,860 but was hailed as one of the best yet by organiser Richard Rodway.

Twenty-four half-hour performances were given by singers, dancers, musicians and actors at locations around the town centre between December 1 and Christmas Eve.

Mr Rodway said: “We’re thrilled with how much people have so generously donated.”

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