No DIY for Nick Knowles at Henley House & Garden Show

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No DIY required for Nick Knowles at this weekend’s Henley House and Garden Show – only an up close and personal talk.  There was though something for every room in your house and your garden at this weekend’s Henley House and Garden Show.   Whether you were looking for the obvious – a new kitchen or bathroom or perhaps something more unusual – a statement piece to transform a room or your garden, visitors were treated to an array of stylish products.  The show had over 65 exhibitors, over three venues – in the marquee on Market Square, in the Town Hall and the Love Local market in the Over 60s Club. As well as products on show – architects, solicitors, insurance companies were also on hand to give advice. We particularly loved the tree trunk bench and the unusual wine glass lighting from Jonathan Coles Lighting Studio in Henley (both pictured above).

The show opened each day with a musical performance – on the Saturday there was a group from the Henley Amateur Operatic Drama Society and on Sunday the Phyllis Court Singers Group performed.  Phyllis Court Members Club were new sponsors of the show this year and had a stand where visitors could find out more about this unique club on the river.

As well as exhibitors there were cooking demonstrations by Shaun Dickens at the Taylor Jones stand and a programme of speakers throughout both days including a talk by celebrity designer, Julia Kendell and concluding with Nick Knowles from BBC’s DIY SOS on Sunday.    Julia’s talk was about how to create energy in your home with different colours and old vintage and antique items and furniture.

The audience at Nick’s talk were treated to a real insight into how DIY SOS has transformed so many lives in its 16 year history and the emotional journey that Nick and the trades’ people go through in building the amazing houses.  He said, “The programme has become a national conscious and it broadcasts fantastic messages – it’s much more than a TV programme.  The BBC are cutting budgets but we’ll fight to keep this going.  We’re currently planning a very spectacular and ambitious project for Great Ormond Street.”  Nick though started his talk about his early career, including telling a funny story about how he turned up as an extra on the film, A Room with a View, with long hair which was cut off for his part and made into extensions for Helen Bonham Carter – he said, “My hair has won a Golden Globe award!”

Nick’s advice for people renovating their home was to always book builders in advance (those builders that can do it next week generally aren’t very good), it is worth getting a designer in too (he said, “I can’t believe I’ve said this!”) and don’t do it yourself – pay an expert to do it.

On Saturday afternoon, DJ, Mike Read compered the home décor fashion show which started with Councillor David Eggleton pushing his large Triumph motorbike down the aisle, followed by many more local people and celebrities including GB rower, Toby Garbett carrying a rug and his baby daughter and Angie and Calum Best who has recently opened his BSTLFE gym at Henley Business School. The Mayor, Councillor Lorraine Hillier really got into the spirit by wearing a vintage dress with a house pattern on and a floral headdress made by local florist Jo Wise from Floral Circus, she said, “I’ve covered both bases – houses and gardens!”

The show was also raising money for the Chiltern for Disabled Children to refurbish their multi-sensory room and the young adults from the centre participated in the fashion show too, parading with the art they had created with Connect 2 Colour.

Show Organiser, Niki Schafer said, “We were incredibly lucky to have Nick Knowles of DIY SOS join us this year.  In support of the charity work we are doing, he agreed to visit and we were able to introduce him to all the traders and show off the town.  He was incredibly charming, genuinely interested in the work businesses were doing and then gave an inspiring interview for many of us to enjoy.”

“We are blessed to live in a town that puts on as much as entertainment as we do – events are by no means a simple achievement and take months of preparation, considerable funding and many a sleepless night in between.  I enjoy putting on a party but have truly learnt to appreciate what all the other festival co-ordinators have been doing for years (and made look so easy!)”

“I would like to thank everyone who helped put the show together – the sponsors, exhibitors, event managers (White Fox Events, Love Local, Henley Business Partnership), speakers, models, charity bucket rattlers and all the services and suppliers who were required to put on such an event.  You were all incredible.”