Like most years, 2018 in Henley was a mixed bag of good and bad/sad news. There was one story though that many thought would end in a tragedy but ended with a happy ending when Beryl Flynn aged 81 went missing after church in May, but after 71 hours she was found alive by a dog walker in the woods behind Swiss Farm. Rubbish continued to be a serious issue for the Town Council – this year one big problem was the mess left by visitors on Mill and Marsh Meadows. Residents, fed up with Oxfordshire County Council’s inaction, took matters into their own hands and fixed their own streets. Planning in 2018 saw decisions go for and against – Thames Farm was finally given the green light for 95 homes and Lovibonds was saved after planning was refused for 7 luxury flats. 2018 was a special year for remembrance with Henley residents and schools marking the WW1 armistice centenary in many commemorative ways including the unveiling of The Great War Memorial at Townlands, which includes the names of all 310 Henley serviceman who died in WW1, and beacon lighting at Makins Recreation Ground.
The first fruit trees were planted by volunteers in a new community orchard between Paradise Road and Leaver Road. Age UK Oxfordshire announced that it planned to close the Bluebells Community Club based at the Christ Church Centre, which supports people living with dementia and their families, at the end of March. Most people were worried about their fences or trees blowing down in the Eleanor storm but Matt Richardson and his children Felix and Didi, who live on Deanfield Avenue, were more worried about their treasured vintage space hopper ‘Tony’ which was found by Liam Yeo from Stuart Turner. Donna Crook won the Henley Town Council by-election. Simon Priestley tragically died after collapsing whilst playing rugby for the Henley Bears (4th XV) against High Wycombe.
Sue Ryder announced that it would be selling Joyce Grove Hospice at Nettlebed and would be developing a 24/7 palliative care service in the community. Leander Club launched their bi-centenary year celebrations with the launch of the Hip Hip Hooray community project inviting artists, schools, businesses, community groups to decorate one of the 200 paper mache hippos. Station News was broken into overnight, and alcohol and cigarettes were taken. Clive Hemsley switched on the 16,000 LED lights he had installed on Henley Bridge without planning permission. The Henley Herald launched an online petition to keep the lights, which quickly achieved over 2,400 signatures. Lucy and Angel from Gillotts School won the senior Henley’s Got Talent show singing ‘Stay’ by Rihanna and siblings Felix (on vocals and guitar) and Didi Richardson (on drums) won the junior competition.
George Harrison’s widow Olivia gave her blessing to create a memorial garden. A large wall painting (approximately 15ft by 8ft) of a galleon was found in a Gainsborough property hidden beneath the wallpaper whilst being renovated. The piece was the work of Geoff Roberts, who painted it for his father 40 years ago. A boat crashed into Henley Bridge causing more damage to the underneath. Councillor David Eggleton took it upon himself to fill in potholes on Gillotts Lane and on the Gainsborough estate after they had been reported on FixMyStreet for many months, but not fixed. Henley Youth Festival celebrated 25 years with a surprise helping from Mary Berry at the Gala at the Kenton theatre. Oxfordshire County Council demanded that the Henley Bridge lights were removed. A car driven by a Henley college student flipped over in Deanfield Road – luckily no one was hurt. In planning news…. Thames Farm was finally given the green light after numerous appeals, a revised planning application was submitted for Lovibonds for seven luxury flats and Thamesfield submitted their application for the Fairmile development. Daniel James, a chef at The Bull on Bell Street, was tragically killed on the Marlow Road in the early hours whilst walking home.
The body of a missing Shiplake man, Frederick Lawson, was found in the river. The Henley Bridge lights were vandalised. South Oxfordshire District Council Leader John Cotton resigned after being threatened with a no-confidence motion by councillors. New Leader Jane Murphy was appointed. Connie Butt, Over 60s Club Manager, unfortunately didn’t find love on Channel 4’s First Dates. Henley Town Councillor Helen Chandler-Wilde resigned from the Council. The first Henley Young Photographer competition was launched. Large amounts of rubbish were left all over Mill and Marsh Meadows by families celebrating the Sikh Vaisakhi Festival. A planning application for 40 homes was submitted for the old Wyvale garden centre. A wallet was found behind a boiler after 40 years belonging to a Danish woman called Hanne Fuglsang. A serious assault on a couple took place outside Smoky Flame on Greys Road.
Councillor Glen Lambert was voted in as new Henley Mayor. Timothy Dodd-Wilson’s big inflatable yellow duck led the Henley Chelsea Fringe Floral Flotilla for the first time. Residents celebrated the Royal Wedding with street parties. Parks Manager Gareth Bartle lost his battle with cancer. Four Shiplake College students were involved in a serious road accident near Ewelme. Loch Fyne restaurant closed in Market Place. Brownies found a purse during a litter pick and reunited it with its owner. One of Caitlin Donaldson’s painted rocks reached the summit of Mount Everest thanks to Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton. Caitlin is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and paints rocks between her treatments and then hides them for people to find and re-hide. Scaffolding in New Street collapsed into the road causing traffic to come to a standstill – luckily no one was hurt and only two cars were damaged. Two buses collided at the Bell Street bus stop with the wing mirror of one smashing into the back window of the other. There was a great turnout for the May Fayre which was back in the town centre for the second year. First Happy Henley day took place on the national Pay It Forward Day when people were asked to pass on a good turn. Beryl Flynn, aged 81, went missing after church on a Sunday. She was found alive in the woods behind Swiss Farm 71 hours later by a dog walker, a little dehydrated and with a few scratches.
Henley Bridge lights were switched back on after being repaired. Conservative Laurence Plant won a Council by-election. Lovibonds was saved after a planning application was refused. The weather was hot and so was the competition in the Henley Women’s Regatta which saw Henley Rowing Club win two junior competitions, J16 4x- and the J4x, and the Leander Club pair of Natasha Harris-White and Laura Meridew win the C2-. Dame Katherine Grainger unveiled the 60th Millie’s Dream defibrillator at Upper Thames Rowing Club.
Henley Regatta saw five days of hot weather with the Steward’s men’s blazer rule being relaxed on Friday morning – the earliest time in the Regatta’s history. On the water the three new women’s trophies were presented and half the records tumbled on the final day. Henley Dragon Boat Club unveiled their new dragon boat Long Fei (Flying Dragon) at a special ‘awakening of the dragon’ ceremony with help of the Henley Mayor, who dotted the dragon’s eyes. Henley Air Cadets were part of the RAF 100 anniversary baton relay. The first night of Henley Festival saw Rita Ora delay her performance so that fans could watch England play in the World Cup semi-final in the boat tents. Other Festival headline acts this year included Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and Curtis Stigers. Reverend Jeremy Tayler was appointed the new rector of St Mary’s and St Nicholas Churches. Henley Rugby Club announced a partnership with Wasps Academy. CAU restaurant closed. Councillor Sarah Miller appeared on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me. A man seriously injured himself after smashing windows at the Bull on Bell Street. A sold out Club to Pub swim saw 750 swimmers swim from Henley Rowing Club to The Angel on the Bridge pub. The Henley Young Photographer Competition winners were announced. The Herald ran a Facebook poll asking people whether they would like to have an outdoor pool in Henley. The voting saw a massive 93% vote YES.
The public turned out at Townlands Steering Group (TSG) Committee to question the Director of Hospice and Fundraising for Sue Ryder about the closure of the Joyce Grove Nettlebed Hospice. Elizabeth Close residents fixed their own street and the West Street pavement was still not fixed by OCC after 6 months. The Fairmile Vineyard popped the corks on their first Henley fizz. A retired former Waitrose partner collapsed in the Waitrose store and tragically died afterwards, despite a Millie’s Dream defibrillator being used. Tubbies Dinner in Station Road was broken into. The Market Place Mews development finally restarted. NHS Property Services announced they would appoint new national car park operator. There was an armed robbery at Anthony Paul jewellers in Duke Street. A swan was found shot in the head. Jill Campion from Henley Squash Club won the World Masters Squash Championship. The new town bus service was launched. 80s music fans flocked to Rewind to celebrate the 10th anniversary.
Connor Botha made a music video with Sir Tim Rice about Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dogs. Vince Hill performed his final show at the Kenton. A Henley resident submitted a resolution to the National Trust AGM to ban the use of barbed wire on their properties after three deer were found dead at Greys Court this year. Phyllis Court Club opened their Fitness Centre. Expanded playground and new outdoor gym opened at Makins Recreation Ground. A large tree fell down on Hamilton Avenue and narrowly missed pedestrians. Henley Town Council Recreations & Amenities Committee agreed for Editor Michaela Clarke to form a working group to look at building a Henley Lido. Ben Sleet took delivery of a new freestyle wheelchair for use on skateparks. Families enjoyed Henley Show and Regatta for Disabled. The first Henley Herald Community Champion Awards opened for nominations.
Poppy Appeal launched by Sam Brown’s Ukulele band. A tree to commemorate the WW1 centenary armistice was planted at Northfield End green. A four day police investigation after a young man claimed he was assaulted by a gang with a knife in Lawson Road resulted in the police confirming it did not take place. South Oxfordshire District Council take no action after breach of planning notice was issued on a fenced off area of woodland in Lambridge Woods, which has been there for over 3 years. Medieval discovery at Market Place Mews site. Gerry Weber clothes shop closed in Bell Street. A planning application was submitted to add a floor to The Hub in Station Road. Henley Mayor Glen Lambert jumped on his bike for the PIP Mountain Bike Challenge after organiser Bill Feeney dislocated his shoulder in training. Literary Festival saw top sports stars, authors and TV celebrities give talks including Kevin Keegan, Nick Hewer, Rob Andrew and Michael Murpurgo. Gainsborough Estate was awarded ‘Outstanding’ in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood awards. Henley is awarded Walkers Are Welcome town status. Runners enjoyed the Half Marathon and 10K run. A gate next to a high stile on a public footpath that leads from Regatta Meadows across the Wilminster Park Estate in Remenham was nailed shut, meaning that many dogs and less able-bodied people were not able to go over the high stile.
Fawley footpath bridge collapsed. Councillor Donna Crook resigned from the Conservative Party. Volunteers planted trees at Freemans Meadows to make another community orchard. Car crashed into St Andrews Road garden. The Town remembered at its Remembrance Service with a special fly-past by three WW1 planes, to mark the WW1 armistice centenary. The Great War Memorial was unveiled at Townlands Memorial Hospital by Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire. Local detective George Bradley starred in Sky One’s new programme The Heist. Amazing miniature model of The Angel on the Bridge was built by former Henley College student for private client in London. The town came out for the Christmas Festival to kick off the festive season with Freddy Burton from Valley Road School switching on the large Christmas tree lights.
Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society opened the Living Advent Calendar, which then saw 23 further nights of great performances at venues around the town and raised over £5,000 for charities. A WWII spitfire that was built in Henley was found on a Norwegian mountain. Gainsborough residents delivered toys to sick children at Oxford Children’s hospital for the fifth year running. Over 100 people and dogs dressed up for the Santa Fun Run, which was back this year after not taking place last year. White Gdn in Hart Street won the Christmas window competition with it’s stunning Snow Queen display for the first time. The biggest number of swimmers (65) braved the cold water for the Boxing Day Swim, including Calum Best.