Emma Chaplin interviews Tony Lloyd, chairman of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Management Committee
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and bred in Sussex, my family lived in Ticehurst from the 16th century. From 1850, we were farmers in the High Weald, arable and livestock, with crops including cobnuts and hops. That’s where my mother was born and I grew up.
But when Bewl Water was created, they flooded the middle of the farm.
I trained as a land agent / surveyor, then became a countryside ranger at Bewl Water, where I ended up as head ranger for 30 years. My hobby became my job.
I’ve been involved with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve for more than 30 years. I first came onto the management committee in the early 1990s. I was around from when it was handed over from being managed by the county council to Sussex Wildlife Trust in 2011.
Helping to manage Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, through conservation and countryside management, is a privilege.
What are the greatest challenges for you in your role as chairman?
There are a lot of people to keep happy. I always say, conflicts are solutions in disguise. My job is getting people together, and remembering our common purpose – the importance of the nature reserve to the whole area, to birds, wildlife and people. We need to make it work for all of us.
There has always been a great determination from all concerned to get the Discovery Centre up and running. It was our ambition for ten years.
What do you like most about this area?
The landscape. How it’s steeped in history, from smugglers to coastal change to wildlife – stories of old lifeboat stations, farming, fishing and sailing communities. The commercial aspects of Harbour Road – a thriving place which offers a lot of employment. The regeneration of the fishing quay. Forty fishing vessels operate commercially from Rye. I have also been involved in managing the other side of the River Rother at Rye Golf Club another part of the SSSI. A management plan has been in place for 20 years with Natural England, where there are important rare wild flowers in the dune system.
What does the Discovery Centre mean to you?
It’s a wonderful way of educating people. Many who visit the reserve don’t know what they’re looking at. So this will increase our opportunities to teach those who are interested about coastal change, birds, habitat creation – even recycling what we find washed up on the beach. We’ve been running beach cleans for 25 years!
Image Credits: Barry Yates .