The Floral Flotilla was a very fitting finale to a fabulous programme of Henley Chelsea Fringe events which saw beautifully decorated boats parade up the Henley reach from Mill Meadows, under the bridge, up to Phyllis Court and back to to Mill Meadows yesterday afternoon.
Boat owners had really gone to town again this year with decorating their boats with bunting, flowers, palm trees, balloons and even a mini zen garden (a reference to a new Zen Garden event at the King’ Arms Barn this year). Everyone got into the spirit (including the dogs) too by wearing hats and flowers. The river banks were lined with lots of people waving and cheering the flotilla of boats.
As well as traditional motor powered boats, there was Lyndon Yorke’s famous amphibious car plus man powered boats included a rowing quad from Phyllis Court Club, a wooden rowing boat ‘Dipper’ and Oscar Newton in a grass covered canoe! Hobbs of Henley kindly loaned the Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton one of its hire boats and she was joined on board by Councillors David Eggleton and Glen Lambert and their families. Founder of the Chelsea Fringe, Tim Richardson attended for the first time and joined Barry Newton on the leading aptly named boat, Mrs Bouquet.
The Thames Valley Orchid Society and the Henley WI had stands on Mill Meadows and the Roy Bailey Big Band was playing in the bandstand.
The Henley Rotary Club entered a boat for the first time this year. Phil Fletcher whose boat (Sable Lady) they used said, “Our Vice President Peter Thomson had the idea, he said: You have a boat, Annette March has a florist shop (White Gdn) lets enter the Floral Flotilla as The Henley Rotary Club. It could be fun and promote Rotary at the same time. We had great fun, Annette provided the flowers and did a fantastic job in decorating the boat. We all pitched in to help and provide sandwiches, cake, strawberries and some bubbly and off we went. It was good to do something different that didn’t include fund raising but supporting and taking part in a Henley activity. Those involved included Maria Bunina President Elect, Richard Studwick (Maria’s Partner), Peter Thomson Vice President and Annette March.”
1st Henley Brownies entered the event for the third year on board Magic Maisy. They made flowers from coloured foam to go on the decks of the boat. Leader of the pack, Michaela Clarke said, “We love to enter a boat each year – its a fantastic community event. Thank you to Tim and Joanna Dickson for lending their boat again this year and thank you to the Eyot Boat Centre who kindly provided the life jackets again to keep the girls safe.”
Henley Chelsea Fringe Co Founder, Victoria Newton said, “We were really lucky with the weather. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who made such an effort with decorating their boats this year. Everybody seemed to have upped their game this year, the standard was incredible and it was great to have a few more boats this year. This event just keeps on growing!”