henley youth festival

Henley Youth Festival 2018

Henley Youth Festival celebrates 25 years in style.  For the fourth year running I have been photographing events at the Henley Youth Festival which run for over two weeks. Once again I have genuinely been blown away by the talents of so many children in Henley & I feel so very lucky to live in a town that hosts an event like this.  I photographed 3 events at the Kenton Theatre, and watched children dance, sing, tell jokes, perform acrobatics and show tremendous strength of character and bravery by performing on stage in front of sold out audiences. I went into primary schools and photographed some of the workshops being run by the youth festival. Children also had the opportunity to take part in art, writing & film competitions. I suspect many parents didn’t even realise their children had taken part in activities organised and funded through the youth festival.

We hear so much about funding to schools being cut, which means that even something as basic as coloured card becomes a luxury item that teachers cannot afford to buy for their students. In one school I was told that the only way art and craft activities could take place was if the teacher bought the equipment out of their own money.  How incredibly sad, and how lucky then that something like the festival can help fill in some of these gaps.  The festival has many wonderful local sponsors, and we are all grateful to them for funding so many of the activities. 

The Henley Youth Festival is run entirely by volunteers who give up their time for free to enable our children to have an incredible variety of experiences that they would not otherwise have.  I am happy and proud to donate my time by photographing many of the school worskshops and performing arts events, but there are so many other people working behind the scenes without whom none of this would happen. There are too many people to mention everyone individually, but the co-chairs Jo Dickson and Kate Swinburn-Johnson deserve a special mention, as they put in so much hard work to co-ordinate the whole festival, as well as taking on many of the jobs which perhaps could be done by others.  Please therefore accept this plea from me.  Get involved with the festival, volunteer your time and I promise you will get back so much from it. Don’t wait until next year, get in touch now!

Here are just some of the events which took place in schools which I hope give you an idea of the variety of activities on offer. There were many, many other workshops in lots of other schools, but these are the few I was lucky enough to visit!

Animation Station – Clinton Osborne 

Using laptops and camera gear, children from Trinity CE Primary School made stop-motion animation videos in a fun, hands-on workshop, using drawings to create backdrops & characters to tell their own animated moving story. They understood that this was the same process used in the making of ‘Wallace & Gromit’, although over a FAR greater timescale! You can see some of the finished videos here

henley family photographer

Puppets with Lily Rossiter 

Children of Peppard Primary School designed & created puppets using lolly sticks!

henley family photography

Mix Media – Emily Cooling

Shiplake Primary School pupils created and decorated beautiful lanterns during this workshop with Emily Cooling from Creating Art

henley family photographer

Michaela Clarke – Create n Make

The Henley Herald’s own Michaela Clarke helped the children of Trinity Primary School make colourful cupcakes to celebrate the festival’s 25th birthday. 

henley family photographer

Singing with Lucy

Young children from Trinity & St Mary’s schools enjoyed singing along to ‘Little People’ from Les Miserables, learning the actions and suggesting moves of their own.  

henley family photographerhenley family photographer

Explorer Dome

Learning what happens to your food from your plate to your poo, these children from Rupert House school loved getting inside the Explorer Dome.

henley youth festival

Little Blue Monster

I wish I had even half of George’s energy! His workshops are always one of my highlights of the youth festival, as his worskshops manage to hold the children’s attention from start to finish. They get to use their imagination, practise their acting skills and scream along to their heart’s content!

little blue monster henley youth festival

Urban Strides

Speaking of energy – wow! Children of St Mary’s, Sacred Heart and Trinity Primary Schools were put through their paces in this Urban Strides street dance workshop & left feeling energised and exhilarated.  

urban strides henley youth festival

Young Shakespeare 

Children from Trinity, Badgemore & Sacred Heart Primary School’s took part in the Young Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘The Tempest’. 

young shakespeare henley youth festival

So that’s just some of the school’s workshops. Children also took to the stage at the Henley’s local Kenton Theatre across a several evenings, to sing, dance and perform. It takes incredible courage to get on stage and perform in front of hundreds of people, and every single child performed with confidence, bringing a smile to everyone’s face. Here are some of my favourite photos from the three nights I photographed.  

kenton theatre childrens photographer

kenton theatre henley on thames

So that’s what I have been up to over the last couple of weeks! If you think you’d like to get involved with bringing these and more events to the children of Henley in 2019 please get in touch with one of the event organisers to find out more.

kenton theatre childrens photographer

For more information about the youth festival please visit their website. https://www.hyf.org.uk/ 

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