Community Comes Together to Help The Planet

Biodiversity, sustainable, wildlife, environmental, recycling, climate change, nature have all been highlighted in Henley’s Great Big Green Week activities and events organised by Greener Henley.

The week kicked off with a The Greener Henley & Friends Fair which included stalls from Greener Henley and Henley Toad Patrol and Henley Rotary Club. Julia Samyui-Adams a member of Greener Henley was asking people to “pledge a tree” by writing on a paper leaf one small or big thing they could do to help stop climate change.

Julia said, “It’s been really good — nice and buzzy. We’ve got various things going on to give a feel of Greener Henley and some other groups as well. We cover a lot of different areas – we’ve got a lot of the wildlife groups here, but also more importantly the Henley Environmental Action plan which is just coming out now and beginning to be talked about.  Today is really about celebrating climate action that is going on and how we’re helping nature to recover, and also looking at what’s going on locally, making people aware of all the good things that are happening, and sending a really strong message to COP26 which is in five weeks’ time.”

Kate Oldridge said, “We are the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill campaign, Zero Hour Oxfordshire. We are campaigning to ask all of the six Oxfordshire MPs, including John Howell, to support the bill. John Howell recently wrote a reply to our open letter saying that he didn’t support the bill for various reasons. We have responded to his reply, and we’re still asking him to reconsider and change his mind and support it. We’ve put together a climate-o-meter which asks four questions. You can see that there’s a pretty clear pattern here: people are saying that they don’t think the government is doing enough, and that the public should have a say in a zero carbon future. One of the things that the bill does is proposes a climate and nature assembly to get the public engaged in it. The public tend to have a more long term thinking about the future and their grandchildren and so on, whereas politicians tend to think in a more short term way. It’s really critical that we have that public voice in there.”

On Monday, there was a cycle ride led by Sarah Cook and Sally Rankin of Henley Wildlife Group led a guided walk at Gillotts Field looking at nature and trees.

Henley Quakers marked International Day of Peace with a Making Peace with our Planet Walk, starting at the Friends Meeting House to the Peace Tree in Mill Meadows. A group of litter pickers went out on Tuesday to clean up country footpaths just outside the town which was organised by Peter Stone from Walkers of Welcome.  Peter said, “I felt it went well – certainly up to expectations; we will repeat it at some point. Thanks to all involved.”   Our Editor, Michaela Clarke went out with Sara Kandiah to clean up the footpaths around the Rotherfield Peppard golf course.  Michaela said, “We were surprised how little litter had been dropped.  We only found one mask.  On the way back to the car Sara saw a little squirrel struggling to walk.  She picked him up and I took him to Henley Vets, unfortunately though the squirrel had a very bad broken leg and had to be put down.”

South Oxfordshire District Council organised a Business Eco Fair in Henley Town Hall on Wednesday with exhibitors and a programme of speakers throughout the day which included How solar panels can be a great investment and Delivering zero-carbon houses now.

Volunteers and the Gardening Buddies helped tidy up Holy Trinity churchyard and the millennium garden.  Reverend Duncan Carter said, “It’s fantastic to have this support because obviously we can cut the grass but clearing the grass from the top is very important as wildflowers grow better on poorer soils and so if we can maintain some areas with low grass it will makes the environment fantastic for all sorts of species.”

Catharine Notaras who took part in the litter pick and is a Gardening Buddie said, “Greener Henley together with Walkers are Welcome a great example of Henley working together.  Many thanks to everyone who took part and made it happen. We had some nice encounters too when people thanked us for volunteering our time in keeping Henley’s footpaths clean.  I hope we will do the Henley Great Big Green Week again next year.”

On Thursday there was a bird Walk led by Alan Parfitt and there was another cycle ride.

Tomorrow (Saturday), Greener Henley will be organising the Big Green Bazaar between (10.00-4.00pm) Professor Richard Fortey, President of the Fungus Survey of Oxfordshire, will be holding a Fungi Roadshow to identify any mystery fungi you have come across.

Other stalls will include Clean Air for Henley, the Town’s Council Climate Emergency Working Group, Fairtrade, Henley Car Club, Henley Quakers Making Peace with our Plant talking about COP 26,  Sonning Common Green Gym, the Swifts Support Group, Greenshoots produce stall and children’s potato printing activity,  Henley & Goring Ramblers, Henley Toad Patrol and CE Bill Zero Hour. Wildlife wonder zone arts and craft activities will be available again for children.

There’s still time to enter the Vanishing Species Treasure Hunt, pick up a map on Saturday from the Greener Henley stall and find each of the 44 species in the shops around town.

On Sunday there will be two river clean ups on World River Day. Meet at 1pm at  the Eyot Centre Wargrave Road. Pizza will be served by Pirate Pizza Boat to all paddleboard litter pickers! Email or meet at 1.30pm at Val Wyatt Marina, Wargrave. Free paddleboards and cake! Email

Schools, Henley Youth Choir and 1st Henley Brownies have all been enjoying The Great Big Green Week too.  Rupert House children have made houses for mice out of Lego, picked apples to make apple turnovers, made bird feeders and enjoyed activities at their Forest School on the Fairmile.  Henley Youth Choir dressed up all in green and sang environmental themed songs and 1st Henley Brownies went out looking for creepy crawlies to put in their bug hotels they made.