Farewell tea and cake


And what a cake and farewell it was. Barry and Anne Yates were bowled over by the warmth of their farewell on Saturday, April 1, the same day of the year that Barry had started many years ago. Who can imagine the reserve without them?

Cliff Dean summed up the event: “The centrepiece of our farewell tea for Barry, who is retiring as reserve manager after nearly 40 years, was an astounding cake created by local cake-artist-to-the-stars Rachel Mount. Standing about 1 metre tall, the cake’s three tiers were a compendium of the wildlife and landmarks of Rye Harbour, from a base representing the triangular map of the reserve (including seals and shingle trucks) up to clouds and sugar-sculpted birds then typical flowers and iconic buildings to the sculpted figures of Barry and Anne gazing out from one of our comfortable benches. For those studying at close quarters, inhaling sweet sugary scents, there were dozens of tiny details including banners listing Barry’s many achievements and miniature copies of our successful books. His muddy bicycle could also be found.

“The design was created in secret by Rachel, who had come forward unexpectedly to demonstrate her appreciation of the reserve and Barry’s role in its creation, in conjunction with a small team of cake-users, who were required to sample the substance beneath the illustrative icing. They voted, without much persuasion, on delicious orange and lemon sponge for the base and then a dense and aromatic fruit cake above. For all the thought and skill directed to its production, this ephemeral artwork was still a cake, baked and decorated during the previous day to be admired by the many old friends who would relish the significance of the hundred details before joining in its consumption. Nothing is left but crumbs, full stomachs and rather a lot of photos.

“Anne was presented with beautiful bird-themed necklace and earrings fashioned by local artist Sharon Hulf. I had produced a giant card in which everyone could write words of appreciation and the collection pot set up for Barry had amassed about £5,000.

“We’re pleased to say that Barry and Anne will still be part of our world, living and working nearby for some time to come.”

An interview with Barry will appear in next week’s Rye News, offering a glimpse of the next chapter in a rich and varied life.

Image Credits: Cliff Dean .

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  1. Barry’s party was a delight tinged with a great deal of sadness that an era of rich developmemt was coming to an end. Anne and Barry’s children and grandchildren were very much present which in itself is yet another achievement! I arrived in Rye Harbour a few months after their arrival and have always felt very much part of their journey. I always looked forward to my 4 am start on Sundays doing a Little Tern Watch. One Sunday my cat Bimbo accompanied me but on the arrival of the next watch was frightened and hid under the caravan. Had to walk back fetch my car with a cat basket to tempt him out!
    The purchase of Castle Water encouraging the return of the Bittern and Marsh Harriers and establishing of the reed beds was a huge achievement.

  2. Barry’s relationship with the Environment Agency and many other agencies has been very important in the development of the Reserve.
    His development of local archives and sharing local history as well as the wildlife has been much appreciated locally!
    The development of the Reserve marshes and wetlands is not only important for wildlife but is increasingly important as a flood defence and accessible area for people yo enjoy being out in nature. This became very evident during the foot and mouth epidemic, then the Covid as this was one of the few areas open to the public to walk in.
    Barry and Anne have always been involved in our family activities and sopportive.
    We will miss him greatly but glad he will be around but relieved of heavy responsibilities.
    His photographic skills are memorable. I remember particulary a slo-mo video of a teasel flower opening like a Mexican wave!


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