A freeman’s weekend

Rye Fawkes 2021 Chris Emson on her way to light the bonfire

What a weekend that was! It’s not easy to imagine anyone outside of celebrity circles having such an eventful and fun packed weekend as Chris Emson last weekend. From Friday evening through to Sunday lunchtime Chris was in demand, and, self-effacing as ever, dedicated everything to everyone but herself.

Rye freeman’s scroll

At the council meeting on October 19 2020, Chris Emson was honoured as a freeman of Rye, in recognition for her many years of service to the community.  Unfortunately due to Covid the whole ceremony took place remotely and Chris was not able to receive the personalised scroll. So on Friday, November 12 Mayor Councillor Rebekah Gilbert made up for this at a special meeting of the council and Chris was awarded her beautiful calligraphy scroll.

Then on Saturday 14, the best night in Rye this year,  bonfire night, Rye Bonfire Society bestowed another honour by making Chris Rye Fawkes. Chris was dressed in cloak and hat, raised aloft by six strong men and chaired down in style to the fire site to light the bonfire.  This was immensely thrilling for all concerned, especially Chris’ family, including a granddaughter who had travelled from France. Chris says this was one of the best moments of her life!

Chris laying a wreath for WVS

On the morning of Sunday 14, Remembrance Sunday, Chris lays a wreath for the Women’s Voluntary Service, of which she is a member. Remembrance Sunday is a day of reflection and thanksgiving. The subdued and dignified atmosphere of the formal ceremony at St Mary’s church was in direct contrast to the celebrations of the Friday and Saturday. But this is a reflection of the lives we live, and, in Chris’ case, probably the most personally important.

Image Credits: Steve Hutchings / Rye Bonfire Society , Johnathan Emson , Jackie Brooks .


  1. Thank you, Chris, for your extraordinary service to this community expressed in so many ways, your wonderful good humour, and for making Rye a better place to live. You truly are an inspiration!
    [And thanks, Mags, for a lovely article!]

  2. I totally agree with Bob – and I hope we will do you justice Chris, when we do our show for the Rye Food Bank on Saturday 11th December.

  3. Congratulations Chris.
    Absolutely well deserved.
    reiterating the comment above you are an inspiration to us all.
    Well done.

  4. A truly remarkable woman who never tires of helping and supporting those who need it! An inspiration to us all Chris and what a wonderful weekend you had and so fitting that you were chosen to light the bonfire too!

  5. Dear Chris, thank you also for your untiring efforts and solid achievements in Africa over many years, in dealing with and mitigating their much worse situation than we have. I am sure many thanks to you for that are also included in the appreciation to you shown by your well deserved award of Freeman of Rye. Enjoy a rest after such excitement, love from Mike and Rachel


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here