Henley Youth Festival – HYF 2017

The annual Henley Youth Festival (HYF) has just finished, and I feel so privileged to have been part of it, photographing many of the incredible events that our children had the opportunity to be a part of under this year’s theme of ‘Journeys’.

In the words of the Festival:

“The Henley Youth Festival is a totally individual event and as far as we know there is nothing else quite like it in the country!
It is a means of celebrating the talents and achievements of young people in our area and to give them experiences across a wide range of activities that they might not otherwise encounter. 
We support and promote the performing and visual arts, have some great team and individual sports events and also nurture other skills through workshops and competitions.”

The festival is run entirely by volunteers with the support of sponsors and partners. I am always humbled by the time people give up to provide these opportunities to the children of Henley and surrounding villages, and I hope that however busy I get, I will always find the time to help in some small way to bring the festival to life for people that don’t really understand what it’s all about.  I am just one of the photographers who covers the events, and I am grateful to the other photographers who also give up their time for free, as it would be very difficult for any one photographer to keep on top of all the events that happen. Here is a flavour of some of the events I have covered.

Dance workshop

Featuring children from Valley Road School, St Mary’s and Badgemore Primary School, Victoria Porter from Dance Design Choreography choreographed an amazing contemporary style routine for the children to learn, along the theme of a journey home.

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Gillotts Year 7 Dance Project

As one of the acts to perform at the HYF Dance event (more about that later), children from Gillotts School in Henley have been rehearsing for their performance in a high energy routine choreographed by some of the GCSE students from the school, set to the song ‘Run Boy Run’ by Woodkid.

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Freedom of Movement

This was far more than a gymnastics workshop, with children learning the art of ‘Parkour’ or free running from Michal Rosiak of Freedom of Movement.  Fortunately the children were not expected to jump across rooftops, but the skills they learned would gave them the confidence and ability to attempt some moves that many of them would previously not have believed possible. In particular, the activity where they ran against a springboard to perform a backflip was certainly a scary prospect for many of them, but they all managed to do it with support. Inspiring. Henley youth festival_0006 Henley youth festival_0007 Henley youth festival_0008


Organised by Eileen Unwin of Go Kids, the run for children in years 1-6 took place on a Saturday morning in the grounds of Swiss Farm Touring and Camping.  Medals for all runners were provided by Higgs of Henley with team cups and inspirational prizes sponsored by GoKids.  There was a real variety of abilities, but all children showed great resilience and perseverance in completing what was not an easy course, particularly the hills! It was also good to see one of the HYF Young Reporters interviewing the winners.

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Screen Printing Worshop

Camilla Shelley, local artist and resident artist at the River & Rowing Museum organised a Screen Printing using ideas relating to Aboriginal journeys. Children had the opportunity to design and create their own t-shirts, and you can see here some of the creations from children at Peppard Primary School.

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Singing with Lucy

Journeys don’t just have to be physical. Lucy Hewes, a local choir leader and West End musician ran several workshops featuring the song ‘I just can’t wait to be king’ from The Lion King about young Simba the lion’s personal journey. As well as movements recommended by Lucy the children were keen to suggest their own actions to fit in with the words of the song.  Watch them ROAR!

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Thank you so much to all of the volunteers who give up their time to organise this incredible event for our children. Our kids don’t know how lucky they are!

HYF Dance

This incredible event which allows children at perform on stage at the Kenton Theatre deserves its own post, which can be found here.


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