Adventures in Rye

It is five years since Winnie Hollands passed on but her memory remains, reinforced with the words she wrote in her ADVENTURES IN RYE series published in “Rye’s Own”. Some brave words written as she lived in the knowledge of her imminent death are reprinted here as a tribute to a woman who was liked and respected by all who knew her and dearly loved by her immediate and extended family.

Winnie Hollands
Winnie Hollands

All good things must come to an end. My adventures in Rye that have been a wonderful 84 year experience will not alas reach 85. I have been sent home from hospital to enjoy the final weeks of company with my family and to get my affairs in order.

I have my regrets, of course, that the terrible hand of cancer has reached out for me but I feel so lucky that it has come late in life and my heart goes out to all the much younger people that have had their lives curtailed by this dreadful disease and for their families who grieve for them.

I must thank the wonderful Doctors and Nurses, both at the hospital and now during this difficult time, made bearable by the constant attention of my youngest son Richard and his wife Patricia, for their help, advice and care. I would say to anyone who find themselves in this position, do not be frightened, take each day as it comes and enjoy every precious moment.

My other boys, Robert and Jimmy visit me as often as they can and there has been a constant stream of nephews, nieces, grandchildren and great grandchildren arriving and brightening each day.

Richard got me to his motor and drove me to Rye, taking me round all the streets that have been so familiar to me over the years. I saw people on top of the Church and remembered the time, about 15 years ago, when Jimmy took me up the winding stairs along the narrow passage and through the clock room to an almost vertical ladder that led to the top. I made it up that ladder and the views of Rye from that amazing vantage point stay in my memory to this day.

We looked down on the Lion Street School where I learned to read and write, add and subtract as so many did before and after me. I hope this building, sacred to Rye, will not be sold off for development. I can’t see this happening if Rye people are as determined as they were in my younger days. I am so glad to see there is great opposition to the scheme.

Familiar streets and faces brought back so many memories. There was 12 Cinque Ports Street where I went to live with my husband Jim after our marriage at Rye Church on Christmas Day 1937 and where, many years later, Jim and I and our three sons ran a television and white goods business. Those were the days in the early sixties when television was just coming into its own. Jim was a special man, his deeds of kindness went very much unnoticed. He could not bear to see any old person without a television set and I know that in many cases he fitted sets we had taken in part exchange into their homes for a very nominal charge, sometimes for no money at all. He would tell them to get a tin and put a shilling a week in it, this would cover the cost of repair if it broke down.

Then we passed 55 Cinque Ports Street, now the Betting Shop, it was here we started the Television Business in 1957. Opposite the old Co-op building where Manager Sid Baker, a great friend of ours, worked for many years, before, throughout and after the War. He was in the shop when the German Bombers flattened the Regent Cinema, what a day that was.

Then past the “Rye’s Own” building and the Runcible Spoon, where I caught a glimpse of Jimmy and Rye’s Own Saturday Girl Gemma enjoying lunch. Then it was down Landgate, remembering Mrs. Horner sitting outside her shop, past the Cricket Salts where the old Rye Sports Days were so much fun. I am proud to say I was Secretary of the Sports Committee for several years. Then it was back to the Marshes leaving the outline of Rye behind, perhaps for the last time, as we made our way back to St. Marys Bay.

Writing this column has been instrumental in me renewing many old acquaintances. I have enjoyed the experience immensely. I will carry on contributing for as long as possible. I have a very special reason for seeing the successful rebirth of the magazine, because it was me, way back in 1965, who suggested the title “Rye’s Own.” Good luck to all you readers, I hope “Rye’s Own” lives forever.

Love Winnie

Rye’s Own July 2006

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