“Rye really is the spice of life” said George Ashby, partner and NFU group secretary at the Tenterden office of NFU Mutual, the headline sponsors of the Rye Arts Festival.
We were talking at the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre where George had enjoyed a lecture with the ecological gardener, Matt Rees-Warren, one of the final events of this year’s Rye Arts Festival.
He had brought along a client as a guest for the afternoon and was ebullient in his praise of everything the festival brings. “The length, breadth, and depth of the arts festival is amazing. There is just so much to be a part of, to see and to do, the festival really does provide such variety and is indeed, the very spice of life.”
Born in Rye himself, his family has held strong connections to the town for generations. And as a graduate from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, George has seen some spice in his own career. At one time second-in-command of the Life Guards, the Household Cavalry Regiment, and later selected as staff captain responsible for state ceremonial and public duties, he has spent a lot of time under the scrutiny of the very highest royal dignitaries.
Joining NFU Mutual after leaving the army, he has been the man most responsible for undertaking sponsorship of the festival.
“The arts festival is such a great vehicle to support,” he said. “It’s the first time we have been direct sponsors of the event. The NFU is the broadest supporter of Rye and its businesses, from farming to landscape painting. We’re intrinsically linked and are the keenest supporters of rural communities. These events have so much benefit for the town and it’s gratifying to be a part of, and contributing to, the event as a whole.”
Overwhelmingly supportive of the festival, the community, and local businesses, George is adamant about one thing; “The festival is one of those rare events that has something special, that je ne se quoi, that has really put Rye on the map.”
Image Credits: Chris Lawson .