Birthday honour for Denny

Denny carrying the Olympic torch

Denny Nicol was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the community in Rye, but this simple announcement does not go close to revealing just how much she has dedicated voluntarily to so many local organisations since returning from London with her young family to Playden, to live with her mother in the 1970s.

She undertook 39 years of voluntary hospital car service, driving at all hours including some weekends, which involved delivering and returning innumerable local people to appointments in Hastings, Bexhill, Brighton, Pembury and London at least once a week, just for the petrol money. She prided herself in locating obscure addresses long before satnav was invented and made many friends over the years who relied on her cheerful help.

For the last 20 years she has continued her mother’s legacy of organising the Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital library trolley and, as well as supervising a team of volunteers to take the trolley round the wards, she has to regularly go to the library to keep the supply of books current or to borrow a special book for an in-patient . More recently the service has expanded to include the residents at St Bartholomew’s Court Sanctuary Retirement Living.

Denny’s other incomparable skill has been as secretary to Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital Friends for many years, to Rye Tennis Club for some 40 years (now retired) and to Romney Marsh Pony Club. All these organisations owe an enormous amount to her meticulous record keeping which has left them free to concentrate and expand their own special activities more successfully.

Self-effacing long service

Her other commitments have included Riding for the Disabled for many years until it disbanded and more recently her love of books led her to help Rye Primary School pupils with their reading. She is also secretary to Ferry Road Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group

There is a key to Denny’s special essence, apart from her self-effacing long service and dedication to the things that have made a difference to so many local people. She does not seek the limelight for her rewards, but is happy to use her natural desire and quiet respect to help others and so tirelessly and humanely to work for their benefit – nobody really knows how much time and effort she has expended over the years – but Rye has been lucky that she has been such an invaluable part of our community giving so much in a myriad of ways. Congratulations and thank you Denny.

On a personal note I add : “It’s such great news – I made the application because I thought she has  always  done a huge amount for the local community for years on end, but always went about everything so modestly and so many people may not have noticed.

“Having worked in the community I have recognised that it is not always the principals who have the most impact behind the scenes and she has always been so self-effacing but done  such enormous good.

“I started the application hoping to get it through in time for her 80th birthday last year (October!!) but thankfully, although delayed so that Covid-19 heroes could be honoured, and as a result it has taken nearly two years, it finally came to fruition!  It couldn’t be more well deserved.”

Image Credits: Nicol family .


  1. Congratulations Denny. Well deserved to a wonderful person..Nan Hacking’s appraisal is spot on..
    Denny must have helped thousands plus with her kindness..Always putting others before her own needs with such energy and staying power. Living a Christian faith with thoughtfulness and humility.
    A person of integrity.
    I do hope she has and will celebrate with close friends and family ( Covid safe way)

  2. Congratulations to Denny. A well deserved Honour. The voluntary work she has done for this community has been, and still is, amazing.

  3. Congratulations Denny (I don’t know you personally) but the list of all you do for people and organisations is endless and a lot behind the scenes too!

  4. And on those rare occasions when she sits down she is busy knitting for St Mary’s Knitting Group! What a great lady she is!


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