The Herald is delighted to be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year of delivering Henley-on-Thames news online.
Over the last 10 years it has published over 13,000 articles covering everything from Councils to community group news, schools to sport news, events to emergencies and everything in between.
Founder and Editor Michaela Clarke, who has lived in the town for over 30 years, wanted to create an alternative news source in 2013 that would be community focussed, current, creative and promoted the town. She explained: “My background is in Marketing so I came to the table with a different outlook rather than a journalistic one. I think that made a huge difference in building the brand. I remember in the early years I went everywhere myself to report on news so that I could network at the same time and build the readership. Social media has played a huge part too in the success, all of which has been organic with no budget spent.”
“One of my favourite quotes is ‘From little acorns grow…’ ”
The Herald is free to read and is now funded by local community sponsors. Michaela said, “The first few years were hard to get funding. I’d like to thank all of our sponsors over the years, particularly Brakspear who were our first and are still with us 10 years later. The funding has also enabled me to recruit a brilliant team of reporters, plus Steve Allender to draw our great weekly cartoon.”
The Herald has evolved over time and is not just about the news. The website also provides community information including a Halls/Rooms to Hire page, community group details, church information and a business directory. It has also launched appeals and campaigns, including a campaign to provide laptops and tablets to families in need during the pandemic. It founded the Community Champion Awards in 2018 and had fun with Harry the Henley Elf on social media getting up to mischief around town (yes it was us!). Michaela is keenly involved in the Make Henley Shine bridge light project and is still looking for somewhere to build a Henley Lido.
The Herald was printed on paper for the first time last June for a special limited edition print for Henley Royal Regatta, thanks to sponsor European Consumer Claims and working closely with the team at HRR.
Looking back over the years, Michaela has covered many stories, some with sadness and some with joy. Michaela explains, “I think my favourite story encompassed both. It was in May 2018 when Beryl went missing after attending church. She was still missing on Tuesday and I was encouraged to call a volunteer search party that evening. After posting on Facebook, around 30 volunteers turned up 1 hour later and we split up into areas. We didn’t find her that evening but she was amazingly found 72 hours after going missing by a dog walker in the woods behind Swiss Farm.”
The Herald wouldn’t be the success it is without the readers too. Michaela comments, “I’d like to thank each and every reader too, particularly those who have told their stories, given their feedback, suggested ideas, commented on a story or just enjoyed reading it.”
During this year we will be looking back at some other stories from the last 10 years.
We will be celebrating with a 10th anniversary party on Friday 3 February at Henley Rugby Club. Tickets are available via https://buytickets.at/henleyherald/812327