Living Advent Calendar 11-13 Dec: Dolphin, Blue Magoos & Youngsters Shine

11 December – Deefa Dolphin & Glass Ensemble

Deefa the Dolphin brought smiles and offered selfies to night 11 of the LAC.  Deefa is the mascot of the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service who were the charity for this evening in the The Relais hotel’s beautiful courtyard.  LAC organiser, Richard Rodway said, “Having a dolphin here is definitely a first for the LAC!”

The audience packed out the courtyard and enjoyed delicious hot chocolate with a rum option and mince pies.  The evening was being sponsored by Blue Peak Accounting.

Glass Ensemble, an all female choir from Berkshire were the surprise performance returning after their first performance in 2019. Their set began with a rendition of Gaudete after which conductor and musical director, Hannah Towndrow encouraged the audience to sing along with the choir.   The choir with beautiful harmonies went on to perform O come, O come, Em­ma­nu­el and Christmas is coming.

Alexander Devine fundraised through the nightly raffle and also had a stall selling festive gifts.

12 December – Blue Magoos

Blue Magoos took centre stage on the 12th night of Henley’s Living Advent Calendar. The back room at Magoos was packed to capacity as the 9-person band made their Living Advent debut, treating the audience to a captivating performance in support of Henley Festival RISE.

The lively set featured a range of tunes, including crowd favourites like Sunflower, Night and Day, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, concluding with the soulful Coming Home Baby. The band run monthly jam sessions on the second Wednesday evening of every month, and extended an open invitation to the community to join in.

The evening’s charity beneficiary was Henley Festival’s RISE initiative. Jo Bausor, CEO of Henley Festival, shared insights into the charity’s mission, emphasizing their commitment to supporting emerging talent. “We launched a couple of years ago to support emerging talent,” Jo explained. “It is really difficult to get into this industry, and we felt our festival is a great showcase where we can invite the young talent of the future in. […] Through your support tonight, you are supporting all of these young people.”

Richard Rodway expressed gratitude to the community, stating, “We’re seeing such big crowds every night, giving generously; we are already on course to smash our fundraising records from previous years. Every night we are setting a new record, pretty much, in terms of how much we are raising for charity, so give yourselves a round of applause, Henley!”

The night’s sponsor was the Chocolate Cafe, who added a sweet touch to the event by supplying mince pies.

13 December – Youngsters Shine at Christ Church

On the 13th night of the Living Advent Calendar, a dynamic collaboration between Divas & Dudes and Stagecoach Performing Arts School lit up the Christ Church Centre. The youthful performers captivated the audience with their dancing prowess, all in support of the Henley Youth Festival – a perfect charity match for the evening’s surprise act.

Kicking off the night, Stagecoach Performing Arts School set the tone with a lively dance performance to Rockin Around the Christmas Tree. Soloist Isabella Kingston then stole the spotlight by singing, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The Stagecoach finale featured a toe-tapping dance routine to the classic, Jingle Bells.

Divas & Dudes then showcased their talent through dances to Leona Lewis’ One More Sleep and Ariana Grande’s Santa Tell Me. A grand finale saw 21 Divas & Dudes, between the ages of 3 and 14, dancing to Sparkle & Shine from Nativity! Steph Maxell, the owner of Divas & Dudes, expressed her joy, stating, “I’m so happy. I’m so chuffed because I had so many little ones, and the smallest was three. Some of these children, remember, have not danced in front of an audience because of Covid – there was nothing going on so they have literally done nothing. So to dance in front of this many people is a big challenge and they pulled it off and they were smiling, and I was just so thrilled. It went really well. I think we all feel a bit festive now. Lots of happy smiling faces, and that’s what makes me happy – I’m really proud.”

The partner for the evening was The Old Bell.



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