Fireworks off Lilly the Big Yellow Duck’s raft was the ‘lift-off’ for the spectacular Illuminated Boat Parade on Saturday evening which saw a flotilla of 40+ decorated boats sail upstream from Fawley Meadows to Henley bridge.
A large octopus, a swimming dolphin, butterflies, mermaids, penguins, a polar bear, a sailing boat, an aeroplane, a swan and ‘Ratty’ could all be seen on board both powered and unpowered boats. Some also had themes which included Barbie, 007 James Bond, Pirates and The Lionesses. Houses and buildings along the route were also lit up and there large spotlights along the crowded with spectators towpath.
The judges for the awards had a difficult job for Best in Parade, Best Unpowered Boat, Organisers’ Award, Best Music Boat, Best Fancy Dress and Best Lit Up Spectator. The judging panel were Andy Trotman, Dhani Harrison, Henley Mayor (Sarah Miller), Bethan Toop and actor Simon Williams. Commentating on the parade were DJ Mike Read and Voice of Rowing, Robert Treharne-Jones.
Peter Jepson from Wokingham won the Best in Parade in his Jeppo, kayak which he had covered with 1800 lights. He has entered the Bourne End illuminated parade twice before and won there too. Peter unfortunately didn’t realise he had won on Saturday. Peter said, “I heard the announcement of Best Unpowered Boat which was the category I was in and because I had been paddling for over 2 hours I was absolutely shattered and decided to go home. Before I left though I did let children sit in the kayak on the slipway to have their photos taken. This is the first time I had been paddling in 3 years. I’ve been recovering from a frozen shoulder. It was such a joy to be out on the river for the first time. It took me a good couple of afternoons to put all the lights on. I had to sew them on to the bungees on the kayak. I can’t believe I won as there were lots more boats that I think did more creative things. I’m really pleased and very proud. I hope to go to the Bourne End parade this weekend as well.”
Sue and Mick Myhra on Twilight who won the Organiser’s Award said, “Henley is our wannabe home if we could afford a house here. We’re from Norfolk. We had to buy the football net and I’m exhausted from kicking my leg in the air!”
Valley Road Pupils, Beau and Grace won the Best Lit Up Spectator Award with their fun and cute light up bunny hats. Their Mum said, “We had the hats already and they’ve come in really useful tonight.”
Organisers Penny Palmano and Chris Taylor said afterwards, “What a wonderful evening, the standard of entry was superbly high. We need more categories if we do this next year. So many worth contenders. Sorry if you didn’t win! And what a marvellous atmosphere, the crowd were superb, joining in, applauding and cheering. We had many lovely comments from families saying what a fabulous gentle family event. It was quite ethereal and magical. A Big thanks to all. The event has been privately funded from a few generous locals. To help make this an annual event please donate whatever you can to https://www.illuminatedparade.com/donate”
The event was raising money for charities The Rivertime Boat Trust and the Leander Trust.
The full award results are listed below:
Best in Parade – Jeppo Kayak owned by Peter Jepson
Runner Up – E133 Shirley Ann ‘Sailing Boat’ owned by Luke Breen
Best Unpowered – Sgian Dubh owned by Ian Symons
Runner-up Molly owned by Geoff Probert
Organiser’s Award – Twilight for ‘The Lionesses’
Runners-Up – Paula for ‘Biggles Aeroplane’ owned by Ruth Cassidy
Best Music Boat – Scoopenhagen for Barbie
Best Fancy Dress – Joint Winners Mermaids from Boka and Butterflies from Ratty
Best Lit Up Spectators – Beau and Grace
Photo credit Stuart Bailey – Best in Parade