Henley took a stride into Christmas this with the arrival of the Market Place Christmas tree and the announcement of the Mayor’s Christmas Card Competition winner.
As the 35 foot Nordmann Fir Christmas tree was installed by the Town Council’s Park Services team, the Henley Mayor and Mayoress, Ken and Dorothy Arlett, picked their favourite Christmas card design from an impressive selection of 200 entries.
The theme of this year’s competition was ‘Henley-on-Thames Magical Christmas Tree 2020’. The charming array of entries included images of presents, reindeers, and snowmen amongst the many pointy-edged, triangular trees. A number of children depicted famous Henley landmarks, such as the Henley bridge, in their designs, whilst others drew aliens and mermaids for a more unconventional interpretation of the brief.
In the end, it was 10 year old Anna Brandis from Sacred Heart who stole the show and scooped first place. Anna’s Christmas card design featured a brightly coloured Christmas tree centrepiece amidst falling snow, a snowman, gifts, a robin, and a tray of tea and cake (presumably left out as a treat for Santa Claus). Anna’s picture will be printed as the Mayor’s official Christmas card.
Second place went to Sebastian Sheldon, a Year 2 student at Valley Road for his Magical Henley Christmas Tree, whilst fellow Valley Road Year 2 student Isabelle Natasha Currathers took third place. 6 year old Poppy Sheppard from Trinity Primary School was awarded fourth place for her rainbow-themed drawing.
Henley Mayor, Councillor Ken Arlett, said that it was a challenging task to choose a winner. “It was really difficult to pick it out,” he said. “We counted them the other day and about 200 kids entered which is absolutely brilliant and we obviously thank them all for taking time, and thank the teachers.”
On how he and the Mayoress came to a decision, Ken said, “In the end we went for the Christmas tree because we thought it was magical, and we think that could be baby Jesus on the top.”
Usually, the winner of the Christmas Card Competition helps to turn on the Christmas tree lights in front of scores of people at the annual Christmas Festival. However, like many local events in 2020, the Christmas Festival will not be taking place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though the festive season may look decidedly less lively this year, the Town Council have been working hard to make sure that Henley still looks as merry and bright as it does any other Christmas. With the arrival of the Christmas tree in Market Place, sponsored by Invesco and purchased from the Tree Barn, the town is already skipping into the Christmas spirit.
Isabelle said her picture took to her 10 mins to draw and Sebastian said his took about half an hour. Both children love drawing, Isabelle said her favourite thing she draws are roses and Sebastian said, “I like to draw nature things, like woods and jungles.”