Priscilla Ryan, one of Rye’s most well-loved residents, died last Wednesday, July 8 with her family around her bedside. In 2014, she received special recognition from the RNLI at an informal ceremony at Rye Town Hall on April 24.
For more than sixty years’ service in fundraising for the RNLI, Priscilla was given a bar to the gold badge she had received ten years previously. “This is our most prestigious volunteering award which supports the work of the lifeboat crews,” said Katherine Vasey, south east area manager of the charity at the time.
Priscilla was just nineteen when she started collecting donations from passengers at London’s Victoria Coach Station and at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Later, she extended her collections door-to-door. These were made “after six p.m. because that’s when the menfolk got home with change in their pockets”, said Priscilla with a chuckle.
When Priscilla and her husband John, the cartoonist and animator best-known for his character Captain Pugwash, came to live in Rye in 1987 her work continued. John kindly donated the occasional Pugwash sketch to raise funds too.
A fundraiser to the end
For many years Priscilla was the president of the RNLI’s Rye, Winchelsea and District Branch and retained the position when it merged with Rye Harbour Lifeboat Station Branch. She never shied away from the many challenges and changes that have faced the RNLI over the years and supported the local lifeboat station right up to the end. She could often be found in the souvenir shop in the harbour, chatting to locals and drumming up support.
When KT Bruce, press officer at the station, began the pebble memorial project in 2019 Priscilla gave her a donation to get started with paints and brushes and even painted her own pebble. She supported every fundraising occasion and enjoyed coming down to the station to meet the crew – and Priscilla’s fund-raising also helped the purchase of a new state-of-the-art lifeboat for Dungeness station.
She will be sorely missed at RNLI Rye Harbour. Paul Bolton, lifeboat operations manager commented: “Priscilla was such an amazing fundraiser for our station and we are so grateful for all her support over the years. We send our warmest wishes from all the crew at the station to her family at this sad time.’
Image Credits: ktbruce .