Thanks, say Festival organisers

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Several hundred gathered on Monkbretton Bridge and the river bank to watch the raft race

The Festival of the Sea went swimmingly, thanks to support from volunteers

The new Rye Festival of the Sea got a large thumbs up from the many visitors who came to the river frontage on Saturday July 22. It would not, however, have been possible without the help of a large team of volunteers. Five months in the making by the core committee – Chairman, Cllr Andi Rivett who was responsible for all water safety & sponsoring the raft race, Neil Cunliffe for all aspects of health and safety, insurance and finance, Liz Pendennis for liaison and fund raising, Sophie Judge for organising all the stalls and entertainment, Kirsty Doherty for the beautiful designs, signage and marketing, and Rebekah Gilbert for project management and media.

They were joined by Chris Fisher who organised all the music (Phil Trainor, Rattle the Boards, Rye Bay Crew, Slap Bang, Lyn and Martin Hayes, RX Shantymen from Hastings, Hall & Blokes, Holly Holt and Anthony Skinner) with a great team of technicians- Paul and Roz, and Reg Marchant & British Marquees for the stage (sponsored also by GMP accountants and Douglas Rowe Finance). Ian Gibson, in liaison with the Environment Agency, who worked tirelessly for days preparing the area and towing all the rafts to the river and all of them safely back! Cllr Cheryl and Mr Creaser for marshalling all day, plus helpers and stewards Tony Rawlins, Mathew Pithie, Nick Reed, Garry Barell, and 12 year old Master Max Cunliffe who assisted father Neil for 12 hours solid on the day.

VIPs on the Harbour Masters launch enjoy the mayhem

On the day we were joined by Cllr Ian Potter and Jessica Neame assisting with safety on the river, plus Colin Baker and colleagues from Rye Rotary. A massive thank you to Ed and Frank Langrish for allowing us to use their land for the raft race. James Bateman, Harbour Master not only assisted with aspects of our hefty Risk Assessment, but piloted all our VIPs to the Raft Race on his vessel the Rother IV – Amber Rudd MP, Mayor of Rye Jonathan Breeds and his consort Harry Sperring, and the Festival of the Sea Queen, Ali Adams, who was beautifully bedecked courtesy of sponsors Rye Retreat – she ably assisted the start of the Tug of War, sponsored by Rye News online – won by the Harbour Barbarians from Harbour Health Club, after seeing off WS Wrights and Trojan Training systems, and the Raft Race was won by Skinners of Rye, with thanks to all the other entrants (Jenco Electrics, The Mermaid Inn, Harbour Health Club, KD Flooring, Rye Primary dads, and Rye Creative Centre), and the Crown Inn, who won best effort raft, sponsored by Rye Shoes.

Spectators and raft teams were taken from Monkbretton Bridge by the Town Cryer and the Rye Bonfire Boys drummers, and everyone was kept safe by Mark Hart and his security team. The Town Cryer also read excerpts from the Captain Pugwash tales at the Rye Heritage Centre, who supported our Message in a Bottle competition around the town, courtesy of around 15 shops, with prizes for eagle-eyed younstgers. We were also joined by the fire engine and crew from Rye Fire station explaining about water safety.

None of this would have been possible without other sponsors and our thanks to Rye Town Council, Rother District Council, Jempsons Foundation, Adams of Rye, Waves estate agents, Rye Cookshop, Rastrum, Marinos Fish & Chips and many more.

If anyone would like to get involved next year do get in touch!

Photos: John Minter

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