Society honours Ship sign

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Diana Turner (r), manager of the Ship Inn acknowledges receipt of the Townscape award from vice-chairman Julian Luckett (centre)

More than 70 people gathered as Rye Conservation Society held its annual Christmas party in the town hall on the evening of Friday, December 7.

Over splendid canapes supplied and served by Pete and his attentive staff from Fletchers Tea Shop and wines carefully selected by Kyriakos Hadjikakou, a happy evening was had by the society’s members and selected guests.

Heading up the VIPs were councillor Jonathan Johnson, chairman of Rother District Council (RDC), and his wife and fellow RDC councillor Gill Johnson. And they were attended by the Rye pair of RDC councillors – Lord Ampthill and landlord of popular Crown Inn Gennette Stevens. Sadly, Amber Rudd MP was unable to attend but wished everyone an enjoyable evening. Entertainment was provided by the society’s recently retired chairman but new president and master of levity, John Griffiths, who cracked a series of jokes that raised the already warm spirits even higher.

Conservation Society members being welcomed by their chairman

The society’s current chairman David Bookless says: “It was delightful to enjoy such a friendly and happy occasion which served to kick off the festive season for so many of us. And I was delighted to welcome our honoured guests as well as our members both old and new. I was especially delighted to see Priscilla Ryan, who has been an active member since just after the society’s inception and, of course, her brother was a long-standing and much-loved former chairman.”

David also commented on how happy he was that work had finally got going on the Landgate and that the tower was able to fly a flag to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. “The society has had the tower on its radar for many years and has been lobbying the district council for work to be done on this iconic landmark. The society would like to congratulate all concerned in getting the much needed remedial work started, and it was splendid that a flag was able to flown from it to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.”

Although primarily a social occasion the annual party also provided the formality of the announcement of the society’s annual Townscape awards, which serve to recognise outstanding work which has conserved and/or added to the town’s amazing built environment. “This year there was a single winner,” says David, “and a thoroughly deserved one too – the Ship Inn on the Strand. And we made the award in recognition of the high-quality restoration of the Ship’s sign – a large painting of a tall ship under full sail. The original sign had all but disappeared due to weathering and the society had been in conversation with the Ship’s previous owners about conserving it but without any real progress. So we were thrilled when the new owners, Hush Heath Estates, hove into sight, and rapidly got on board with the project! The result is smart and well looked-after.”

The Conservation Society’s vice chairman and chair of the planning sub-committee, Julian Luckett, presented the Townscape Award certificate to Edward Gardner, commercial director of Hush Heath Estates, and Diana Turner, the very popular general manager of the Ship Inn.

After more delicious nibbles and a glass or two of wine the throng disappeared happily into the evening after a thoroughly enjoyable evening, all warmed up and ready for the rest of the festive season.

Image Credits: David Bookless, Andrew Bamji.

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