‘An unsung hero’ and the world’s most successful rowing club were honoured with Henley town medals this year and were presented by John Howell MP at the Town Hall on Thursday evening last week.
Ian Forster is the ‘unsung hero’. He is the longest serving member of Henley Lions (45 years), previously chairman and member of Henley Round Table, member of the 41 club, one of the original volunteer drivers of the Henley Handybus, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, member of Trinity Church Council and helps organise the annual Mencap barbecue each year. Ian helped set up the annual Lions Swimarathon which raises an amazing amount of money each year for local charities and helps at many of the Lions events including the May Fair, Christmas Festival, Duck Derby, Regatta car parking, Father Christmas at Toad Hall. Ian and his wife Ruth have lived in Henley for 55 years. Before his retirement he had a career at ICI Paints as a Design Engineer. In his spare time he plays badminton once a week and enjoys painting. A number of his paintings have been on show at the Old Fire Station gallery and yes all the money went to charity.
Many of Ian’s friends and members of the Henley Lions were there to see Ian receive the award and gave him a big cheer on the announcement of this name.
On receiving the medal Ian said, “Having received a phone call from our current Mayor, Julian Brookes, giving me the surprising news that I was to be the recipient of the Town Medal, I was completely shocked, and honoured. The presentation was made in Henley Town Hall by our member of parliament John Howell which was an added pleasure. Having been a driver of the town Handybus from its beginning, my most memorable and enjoyable duties were to drive for the Mencap Meteor Club and the Chiltern Centre on their evening trips.”
Leander Club, the world’s most successful rowing club was given the second organisation town medal this year, after Invesco Perpetual were given the first one in 2016.
Hugh Richardson, Chair of Leander Club accepted the medal on behalf of the club.
Hugh talked talked about the history of the club which started in 1818 and how the location for the upriver clubhouse at Henley came about being built in 1897 (it was between Cookham and Henley). He said, “We have achieved our success thanks to the sustained hard work by all of our predecessors. Thank you to the people of Henley. It is a huge honour to accept this medal on behalf of the club which I hope will continue to contribute to the great Henley community.”
The town medals were presented at the annual Town Meeting which gave the opportunity for community groups and charities to talk about their work. The Mayor, Councillor Julian Brookes spoke of his highlights of the year which included the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, the opening of the Henley Rugby Club’s clubhouse, Henley Regatta, the Olympic ‘heroes return’, Remembrance Service and the official opening of Townlands Memorial Hospital.
He said, “I’m also looking forward to the inaugral Park Run which is going to take place very soon and hot off the press the HCA (Homes and Communities Agency) have approved Henley YMCA as a Registered Provider which will enable Henley YMCA to apply to YMCA England for purchase of the outstanding lease and to become a full Registered Provider of Social Housing in their own right.”