Thursday, August 16 2018

About Rye News

Join our Team

Rye’s online newspaper is here to showcase what is positive about our town and the villages about us. Within our area, a wide circle of about eight miles, Rye News represents an open invitation to all residents, businesses and voluntary organisations to keep us all informed. Our lives, our history, our landscape are all special. To us and to those thousands of visitors who come here each year.

To do that this project needs volunteers to come forward. To become reporters, photographers and sub-editors. If you would like to join our team, please email

What inspired this project?

In 2014 conversations among ourselves, among friends and among Rye residents: the desire for a more relevant local newspaper, a community newspaper. So a small group of us got together to see if anything could be done by volunteers in a not for profit enterprise.

We explored first the possibility of a printed broadsheet and this remains our long-term ambition. But we realised on cost grounds that the only practical option is to produce an online version first. This will help us build the necessary skills and the advertising revenue that we need for hard copy production.

We set about getting grants and found early support from the Hastings Trust and the Police PPF. We applied to the Big Lottery and won a major award enabling us to engage a professional web designer. Six months of hard work later we’ve arrived at where we are today. We have defined our objectives:

  • We will act as a platform for voluntary organisations. We will publicise their work as they so often struggle to gain support. We will provide an accessible calendar of events to permit them to promote their activities. Better publicity will help them to be more financially viable and encourage new volunteers to come forward
  • We will be a forum for comment, readers’ views, opinions, and discussion on local issues. We will feature health, education, living, and the natural environment. Rye’s Neighbourhood Plan for example is an obvious candidate here. We will aim to reach out to the younger generation and make use of their talents.
  • We will showcase Rye and the villages around us. To bring visitors to the town for commerce and entertainment. Local businesses will be promoted through advertising or features on new local enterprise. Festivals and artistic events will benefit greatly from a highly accessible central news medium.

Information sharing is beneficial to the life of any community – it acts as a social glue, raising social awareness. A lively source of communication is an indicator of a vibrant community and these benefits are measurable – not just statistically in terms of readership but in improved living standards, and in financial benefits for local residents.

Our paper will provide an opportunity for learning new skills. For example, we have already been in touch with Rye College and the Rye Studio School, exploring possibilities for working with and providing training for students. We will work with the whole community, not forgetting the needs of the older generation. I’m one of them myself – and I’m listening to me in doing this.

How it started: with a poster campaign and flyers delivered to every door in Rye through the Fixtures magazine

How it started: with a poster campaign and flyers delivered to homes through Rye Fixtures

Above all, perhaps, a community newspaper helps build a sense of ownership of place which impacts in all sorts of ways from civic pride and sense of identity to less litter-dropping and petty vandalism. A truly local paper helps create “a belonging community”.

So back to earth with presenting the product. I would like to pay tribute to all members of the team who have helped us get us this far, particularly to Tony Nunn who has done really sterling work, bringing his journalistic experience to bear in drawing up the specification for our website.

After the presentation, we’ll talk about the organisation of online news gathering and you’ll have the opportunity to say how you can help us launch Rye News. Indeed we do need your help! We’re looking for people willing to act as contributors, reporters, photographers, category managers and sub-editors of a living newspaper.

But now let me introduce our web designer Mark McGee. Mark is a web analytics and digital marketing consultant based in Ashford, Kent. His company, InfoJuice, works with small businesses and start-ups to help them get the most out of their digital marketing activities. He is a professional trainer and works with both Manchester Metropolitan and Canterbury Christ Church University where he is an Associate Lecturer on digital marketing.

When Mark has completed his demonstration I’ll invite you to meet our team and to put your questions to them, and tell them what interests you in the project. Let’s see how your skills and interests can match what we need for our new local paper. As the posters and banners proclaim: HELP US LAUNCH RYE NEWS

Kenneth Bird
Chairman Rye News Project
March 22 2014

* This speech is taken from the launch address at the Milligan Theatre, Rye College.


Kenneth Bird, Chair and Director

Born 1937, formally educated at Felsted School and Cambridge University, following two years National Service (int. Corps); then joined Shell-Mex & BP in Peterborough where I met and courted Margaret Twidale. We got married, raised three children (along with house-cow, sheep, ducks and geese) in our Essex farmhouse and smallholding, whilst long-term employed as Company Secretary and legal adviser of a medium-sized PLC. I came to Rye in 1987, retiring 10 years later to be appointed secretary of Rye Conservation Society, later becoming a trustee of the Sussex Heritage Trust; co-founded Rye Film Club, Marsh Link Action Group, the Rye Fund and Rye News. We celebrated our golden wedding in 2013. Current hobbies: listening to music, playing chess, philosophy and journalism.

Dennis Leeds-George, Director

I was born on the family farm at East Guldeford just three miles from Rye on Romney Marsh where I still live went to Rye Primary School where I was head boy, then to Rye Secondary modern school. I have been a farmer all my life until I retired. I was a member of Rye Racer that organised the silly racers (pram, wheelbarrow & five legged races) around the pubs in Rye. Rye Racers organised a Christmas party for senior citizens with the money raised. For the last twenty years I organised and run local pub games leagues at present I run the local Crib, Petanque, and quiz league also involved in the Hasting Quiz League and Hasting crib league. I also the coordinator Rye Community Hub which is open every Wednesday morning at Rye Club. It was at the hub over a cup of coffee with Kenneth Bird and John Izod that we decided do to the lack of local news in local publications to start this local community newspaper (Rye News).

Charles Harkness, Editor 

See Ryers Unwrapped feature

John Minter, Production Editor

I was advised by my English master at school (had ‘masters’ in those days, not ‘teachers’) that journalism might be a suitable career for me. Thought about it for a few years then, nearly 50 years later, took his advice and joined Rye News. Career choice is important and shouldn’t be rushed. In the meantime I have been a shipbroker in the City, property developer, builder and for 20 years until retirement, ran my own furniture manufacturing business. I have always had an interest in sport – I swam and played Rugby at school and also played later with the Army during a 7-year stint in the T.A. (Honourable Artillery Company). Learned to sail aged 10 and have had a passion for it ever since. Have competed in a number of international races as well as events such as the Fastnet Race. Later took up triathlon and the undoubted high point was inclusion in the British team for the 2007 World Championships in Hamburg. health problems forced retirement from triathlon and now, in addition to getting out on boats from time to time, content myself with tennis, golf and croquet. Also play bridge, although often with more enthusiasm than expertise.

Neale East, Film reviews and social media

Neale moved to Rye in the early 1990s having served in the Army for some 20 years; Rye was the only part of the country he knew more than two people but has visited Rye since the 1970’s. Since moving to Rye he has become involved in many aspects of Rye life including currently Chair, Secretary, and PRO, for Rye Branch of the Royal British Legion, membership and PRO for Rye Bonfire Society and Rye Community Centre Film Club, and member if the Awards Panel for Rye Fund. Hobbies include web design, cycling and being creative and arty & farty with salvaged or restored artifacts inspired by the Rye’s unique Mojo.. Neale currently works for Customer Services in local government. Neale has been involved in Rye News from its inception and currently edits the regular feature Let’s go to the Movies! along with the Rye News Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Ray Prewer, Photographs and contributor

I worked in IT for 42 years and was looking for a place to retire from London. Together with my partner he bought a cottage in 2007. We soon found that getting involved pulled you into the local society. My partner got a job at the Rye Museum, committing them to Rye. I have always been a keen photographer and had developed my own photos in my own dark room for a number of years. My keen interest in local affairs has led me to get involved in the Rye News contributing photographs as well as the occasional article. I was elected as a Rye Town Councillor in May last year as he I always had a desire to put something back into the local society. I have also recently joined other local groups such as the Kino, U3A, the Conservation Society and am a supporter of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

Heidi Foster,  Contributor

I arrived in England aged 16 as an au pair, after a difficult though interesting childhood. I could not have imagined ending up in this beautiful corner, Rye. The historic town had not come into my vision during the years of marriage, divorce, years of being a single mother of two wonderful daughters (now with 4 lovely granddaughters), studying, working as a Mental Health Social Worker and Therapist in the USA with challenging young adults and in-between all this owning and running the Greenwich Bookshop. But one day a friend invited me to visit him in Rye Harbour and I came to love the village, ‘the end of the road’. I bought a caravan and made friends with the newcomers who were sceptically accepted by the villagers and had fun times together at William the Conqueror Pub. Still working in London I got involved in projects in Rye and made friends across the board so it was time to move house, first to the Harbour and eventually in Rye. I got a job in Hastings as school/home support worker which was challenging but interesting and in its own way rewarding when seeing that the support was helpful. Moving into Rye gave me the opportunity to serve in the Rye Town Council which was a fascinating insight into local politics. (thank you for all who voted for me). I joined Rye Singers, the Ukulele Orchestra (much fun) and volunteered for various charities like ARRCC and now as treasurer for Friends of the Rye Art Gallery. The biggest learning curve was my initial involvement and fight to get Rye to support the idea of our own cinema. Now a year on I bet few can imagine the town without it, having brought new life to its economy and entertainment possibilities. Making sure that Tilling Green gets the best community centre it deserves is my next project as well as proving my university professor right by writing for Rye News. He always complained that my essays were not academic enough and too journalistic.

Dee Alsey, Contributor, adverts and materials

I had many years as an IT Lecturer in Further and Higher Education colleges in London and then moved into business training with a London Enterprise Agency at a time when everyone was asking “what is this thing called the internet?”  That resulted in a three year contract with Business Link Kent running e-business courses in New Romney and Ashford when I discovered Rye and stayed for 10 years.  In Rye I set up my own web design and training business and became involved with a lot of artists, businesses and projects including the Rye Arts Festival, Rye Conservation Society, Fletcher in Rye, Rye Guide and the Rye Fund.  I find the concept of a volunteer led on-line community newspaper, which provides a forum for residents to discuss local issues and draws in new visitors to Rye, is an exciting one and and I’m happy to be part of the team.  I also enjoying writing the Ryers Unwrapped interviews which gives me an opportunity to find out more about some of the many interesting people in Rye.

Christopher Strangeways, Technology advisor and contributor
Richard Comotto, Contributor
Dan Lane, Events


* Photos: JOHN WYLIE,  founder of  Camera 1066 Club


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