Residents Join Together at Oarsome Regatta Street Parties

Pimms and champagne were flowing on Saturday at street parties around Henley to mark Henley Royal Regatta despite it being cancelled this year.

Marmion Road, St Marks Road, Gravel Hill, River Terrace, Elizabeth Road and Berkshire Road all held a Herald Oarsome Street Party and there were 10 entries in the best dress housed competition to win an afternoon tea champagne hamper for four, kindly donated by Henley Royal Regatta.

St Marks Road (lower end) and Gravel Hill really went to town with bunting, boat tents, boats, course signs, oars, Stewards Enclosure and the bars, Temple Island and  Leander Club.  Gravel Hill residents even had their very own Stewards Enclosure 2020 badges!  St Marks kicked off their day at midday at Temple Island Island and worked their way down the course (at each house) enjoying different refreshments at each.  They hosted a best dressed pet competition which was won by Bee dressed as a Barn Bar hot dog!

The winner of the house competition was Gemma Birch for her brilliant champagne exploding bubbles and HRR deck chairs on her house in Marmion Road. She said, “I just associate Regatta with champagne, drinking and lots of bubbles.  The balloons were all different sizes of balloons to create the look of them coming out of the bottle.  I used a sticker and crepe paper on the chairs.  I did draw it out first and it did end up looking how I wanted it to be which is amazing because sometimes things don’t work out.   I had a really lovely response from everyone in the road.  We have a street party every year and everyone decorates their house.  I think everyone went to a lot of effort.  I am very shocked but thrilled to have won but I think I will donate the hamper to the Chiltern Centre so perhaps they can raffle it.  I’ve just started a business doing decorations. It was really a test to do a big scale project and to just try different things.”  The Creative Duck founders, Sarah, Nicola and Joey were the judges.  Sarah said, “It was fun to see them all. An excellent selection and a tricky choice but we all unanimously agreed on the winner.”

Henley Mayor and Deputy Mayor Ken Arlett and Dave Eggleton joined the Berkshire Road party.  Residents could enter an ergo rowing race competition over 200m and a cake competition. The top three times for the ergo were 1st – Alfie Reineke 37.5 secs, 2nd Patrick Fleming 37.6 secs and 3rd Daniel McCready 41.4.  The joint cake winners were Scarlett Hyde and Martha Hart (see photos above).

We couldn’t resist taking a photo of Denise in Elizabeth Road (above), drinking from the very apt Corona beer bottle!

Tim Ferguson from St Marks Road said, “It was a great day.  Neighbours and friends dropping in all day, working our way down the Regatta course from house to house, ending with prizing giving. It was lovely to celebrate the Regatta, dress up and spend more time with the neighbours we have got to know in lockdown who we can now call our friends.”

DJ Gary Boys and his friends Cyril Felix and Adam Isaac provided live music on Saturday afternoon in River Terrace.  Gary has been doing a live DJ set on Facebook four nights a week taking requests for donations to the NHS and has raised over £3000.  Henley Regatta wouldn’t be Henley Regatta without Big Duck (Lily) who was wearing a mask and raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support who stopped offer at River Terrace, The Angel pub and Mill Meadows.

Penny Studholme from Gravel Hill added, “A real positive out of the COVID-19 crisis, that we’ve all commented on, is that we’ve met our neighbours, and discovered a fantastic community spirit in the Gravel Hill, Havelock Terrace and Empstead Court area. The WhatsApp group got us talking, the weekly NHS clap got us waving, the VE Day party brought everyone out on the street for the first socially distanced gathering and the Gravel Hill Royal Regatta tea on Saturday has been the latest neighbourly triumph. In a fabulous team effort, the street was transformed into the Regatta site and Henley fashion was to the fore – posh frocks, hats, blazers and chinos. Even the obligatory Regatta drizzle couldn’t dampen the spirits. All great fun.”

“But on a serious note I think getting to know each other has changed the way we feel about where we live – we now stop and talk to each other and there’s a sense of support and community that we didn’t have before. We’re looking out for each other, and enjoying getting to know each other. It’s a positive outcome and a real change for good. As things go back to “normal” we mustn’t let it go – let’s have re-emergence of community spirit as a lasting legacy of 2020.”

Residents were invited to have a ‘doortrait’ (family portrait) taken with money going to The Chiltern Centre.  If you would like a high-resolution copy of any of the above photos, please get in touch with us at

Henley Royal Regatta streamed two days of #HenleyAtHome on their YouTube channel. On Saturday Sir Matthew Pinsent was joined in conversation by some of the biggest names in rowing as they discussed their Regatta highlights. There was also feature commentary from Jessica Eddie and Martin Cross as they ran through their forgotten favourites, and they took a look back at some of the course Records. Sunday was the ultimate Finals’ Day, with some of the favourite finals from the past five years.  Sir Matthew Pinsent ended the coverage by saying, “That’s it for Henley Royal Regatta 2020, it’s been strange, it’s been different, but it has been fun.  We’ll see you next year starting on Tuesday (don’t forget) with six days, new trophies, new events and new love for this most of special events.  From the words of Her Majesty the Queen, we’ll meet again.”  You can watch it here at


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