Farewell to our founder

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Kenneth and Margaret Bird

Back in 2012 Kenneth Bird had the ambition to create a proper on-line newspaper to cover all that was happening in and around Rye. This was a time when the internet was coming into its own, local print newspapers were struggling and in particular the Rye Observer owners had their own problems and the paper was becoming less relevant to Rye.

Like many before him, Kenneth discovered that starting a newspaper, even a relatively modest one, was not easy. Volunteer staff had to be found, a website produced and the whole thing funded. But he persevered: a community interest company was formed to own the paper; directors were appointed; an editor, in the form of experienced Times journalist and night editor Tony Nunn, now retired, was persuaded to come on board; and an IT company contracted to produce a website and editing suite.

Early days: Kenneth Bird, Dennis Leeds-George and first editor, Tony Nunn

The net result was the birth of Rye News and the first issue appeared in February 2014.

Since then an issue has been produced every Thursday (except for the week between Christmas and New Year) and not a single issue has been missed. Even right through Covid and the inevitable difficulties that the pandemic and lockdown caused, Rye News continued to appear every week.

All this time Kenneth, as proprietor (although he hates to be called that, regarding the paper as owned by the team producing it) has been there. Sometimes in the background, at others cooling heads heated by the inevitable creative arguments, but always supportive (and as publisher for four years and editor for two, I personally have enormous gratitude for his support, advice and wisdom).

Over the years readership has grown from just a few views every month to now up to 80,000 – quite an achievement for a local paper serving a town the size of Rye.

Members of the Rye News editorial and production team at a weekly meeting. Kenneth 3rd from left

Kenneth has guided the paper through all this, together with appointing four editors, three publishers, two IT consultants and any number of volunteers, some of whom have come and gone and others are still working away to produce your paper each week.

But life moves on and changes happen. Kenneth, having threatened to retire for some time (but always persuaded not to) has now decided that the time has finally come to hand over the reins to new management.

He has been a tower of strength over the years, always there, always ready with advice and always with a passion for his brainchild. While still active in other areas, he has more than earned his time to rest from Rye News, and while it is inevitable that there may be changes as new ideas are investigated and tried, those of us who now take up his baton are more than well aware of the high standards that we have to live up to.

Thank you, Kenneth for all you have done, it has been a privilege for all of us who have worked with you.

Image Credits: Rye News Library , Rye News library .

13 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Kenneth, from all of us in Winchelsea. You encouraged our contributions and created a Rye News that is a really valuable resource for the whole local area.

  2. Thanks Kenneth.
    Your calm humour has kept the ‘newspaper’ going all these years, through difficult times.
    Best wishes to you and Margaret in the future.

  3. Kenneth, Rye News would never have happened without you. Communities need local news. Your cheerfulness and optimism saw it through. It was fun and, at times, frustrating; not least when my wife Jane and myself subbed an edition while on honeymoon. You did reprimand me – on one occasion only – for using language that would be heard frequently in a newspaper office, but not at a weekly Rye News team meeting. There is an error in the report: I was not a night editor of The Times. You and your dear wife Margaret have done many things for Rye. One which I would like to remind readers of: to give their winter fuel allowance to charity, as you do – if, of course, they’re not on their uppers. Best wishes to the both of you!

  4. I remember the first time I came along to one of the Saturday meetings. I was warmly welcomed and have enjoyed seeing the growth of Rye News.
    I would like to say thanks Kenneth for allowing a newbie to be part of the exalted organisation and well done.

  5. Thank You, Kenneth.
    Living half a year in Rye and the other half in the USA, RYE NEWS was a comfort to me when I wasn’t there.

    Enjoy your retirement.

  6. Thank you Kenneth for getting Rye News ‘at the starting blocks’ in the first place and for all your hard work over the years! The publication has gone from strength to strength with so many people working tirelessly behind the scenes too! Working full time out of town I look forward each week usually on a Sunday morning propped up in bed with my cup of tea catching up on news and what’s going on in the town! Keep up the good work Rye News!

  7. Having seen the headline “Farewell Kenneth”, I feared the worst: but scrolling on found that Kenneth was alive and well, just hanging up his laptop and camera. (Which I doubt)
    I have every admiration for what he and his team have achieved and I wish them all well.
    Tony D.

  8. I too would like to thank Kenneth for when you invited me to your house for coffee and biscuits , you helped me to edit and publish my article about shopping in Rye in the 50s and 60s called A trip down memory lane.
    Once again thank you, all the very best in your retirement.

  9. The success of Rye News is testament to Kenneth’s enduring commitment and enthusiasm since its inception and those very first meetings when we were even undecided as to whether to go for a print or online version of a local newspaper. The latter has proved overwhelmingly to have been the right choice and I have no doubt it will continue to thrive in the safe hands he is leaving behind. Happy “retirement” Kenneth and thank you!

  10. Many thanks Kennet for your drive and enthusiasm without which RyeNews would never have been the success it is now. I remember sitting around the table with you and the early team during the first meetings, with just a blank piece of paper and some ideas – look what it has become! Enjoy a well earned rest!

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