Herd of Hippos Get Decked Out for Leander Club 200 Year Celebration

Two hundred paper mâché hippos have been given a special makeover and decorated to mark and celebrate Leander Club’s bicentenary.

Inspired by the club’s logo, the community initiative Hip-Hip-Hooray was launched in February and invited local schools, clubs, businesses, artists and celebrities to decorate a hippo in their own style with materials of their choice.

Some chose a simple design using paint or decoupage (including one covered in sweet wrappers!) Others used mosaic, added feathers, sequins, hats, jewellery and even clothes.  There were many too that have had extra elements added including boats, aeroplanes, medals and oars.  Local Henley celebrities didn’t miss out either with the late Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee being portrayed in a hippo too.

All 200 hippos will be on display for one day only at the River & Rowing Museum on Tuesday 29 May between 10.00-5.00pm in the Thames Room.  Everyone who has been involved in the project has free entry to the exhibition.

Julia Welburn, a local illustrator and designer has helped to create the format for the display cards for the museum detailing the names and the inspiration behind the design.  Julia’s own hippo includes 127 flowers to represent the number of Olympic and Paralympic medals Leander Club has won and her hippo is titled “Little Seedlings to Flourishing Flowers” to represent Leander Club’s nurturing of rowing talents.

Caroline Mulcahy from Leander Club who is leading the community project said, “It was brilliant to see the detail and lengths everybody has gone to with their hippos.  Many have researched hippos and the club’s history and incorporated this in their design.  The hours spent must have quite considerable and the use of mixed media is amazing.  There’s always something new to discover and appreciate in every design.”

At the end of June, some of the hippos will be displayed around town as part of the Regatta Window Display Competition.  A map will be available showing the locations of these hippos.

An auction page is currently being set up on the Leander Club website for people to bid on the hippos with money raised going to The Kafue River & Rowing Centre which Leander Club has been supporting for the last 3 years.   The centre is being built south of Lusaka in Zambia as a centre for clean water research, education and to develop the sport of rowing.  Probably the most sought-after hippo will be the the gold sequined with five gold medals (above) created by Nancy Marcello which will be signed by Sir Steve Redgrave. The closing date for bids is the 16 September.

From 23 May to 16 July there will also be a Leander Club exhibition, ‘The First 200 Years‘ at the River & Rowing Museum documenting the club’s history.


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