An exciting year for friends of the reserve


Cliff Dean, chair of the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve sums up the past year.

“The Friends are very pleased to welcome two new Sussex Wildlife Trust personnel: Paul Tinsley-Marshall started work as site manager on August 7. Besides a solid academic foundation in ecology, Paul has worked in a wide variety of habitats, most recently on countywide projects in Kent, for the Kent Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation.

Paul Tinsley-Marshall

“Our new ranger, Matthew Rich, has a background in wildlife conservation and was introduced to nature early by his grandfather who took him on walks as a child, pointing out wildlife along the way. Matthew’s main areas of responsibility will be in helping Dave King in the day to day maintenance of the reserve.

“This year, 194 new members were recruited perhaps reflecting our improved online recruitment, our visibility on events and at the discovery centre and the active role of our membership secretary in reminding lapsed members.

“Membership has risen to its highest ever total of 2,190, and we had a financial surplus of income over expenditure of £41,848 and financial reserves of £703,458 at the end of the year, of which £246,637 was in cash or deposit accounts.

“We produced three newsletters through which members were kept informed of activities and events. There were numerous postings on Facebook, Instagram and our website.

“Our programme of afternoon talks has now recommenced for the remainder of 2023, and the discovery centre has hosted a friends open day on the second Saturday of each month where members can meet up and second-hand books and craft items are sold.

“The friends have organised short and extended monthly walks as well as supporting those advertised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT). The monthly Guide in a Hide events have proved extremely successful and a Guide in a Train was also run in conjunction with the Kent and East Sussex Railways.

“The three books published by the friends, The Shingle Shore, New Ways of Looking and Seaside Flowers continue to sell well from the Discovery Centre and local bookshops, while the other friends’ badged products such as mugs, coasters and tea towels are also popular. Sales of these products increased by 40% over the previous year.

“There have been a number of changes to the committee, with long-standing trustees John Barnes, John Trowell, John Willsher, SC Morgan and Mike Russell retiring to be replaced by new trustees Claire Bayntun and Stephen Masters, while former trustee Alan Martin has returned to the committee after a three-year break. Apart from their distinct committee responsibilities, the retirees have all played a vital role over recent years in steering the friends through the creation and development of the discovery centre, for which we owe them our thanks.

Former high sheriff Jane King, Barry Yates and Cliff Dean

“Earlier this year, Chris Corrigan, interim CEO of Sussex Wildlife Trust met the former high sheriff of Sussex, Jane King, for a tour of the reserve. In June, Jane returned to meet Sussex Wildlife Trust staff and friends’ trustees at Rye Harbour: she was so impressed that she intends to nominate the friends for the King’s award for voluntary service (KAV). This is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK. It is the equivalent of an MBE and it is awarded for life. The process of selection is a long one. Nominations are made before September 2023 and then between December 2023 and May 2024 assessment takes place. Those who have been successfully nominated are announced in November 2024 and will then receive the KAV award. The assessment panel is made of those involved in both the business and charity sectors. We will have to wait until next year to discover if our nomination is successful but the very fact that the friends have been nominated at all is a high honour and says much about the work undertaken by us on behalf of the reserve. Jane also presented us with a certificate and a donation of £250.”

Image Credits: Kt bruce , Friends of the Nature Reserve .

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