On Saturday 18 December Julie and Neville Bettley of Rye St. John Ambulance stood in open mouth amazement as Reg Walker, Charity Steward of the Rye Masonic Wellington Lodge, announced that “He who laughs last, laughs longest” and revealed a donation of £13,750 to the Ambulance Appeal.
Julie Bettley told me afterwards that they had been expecting a couple of hundred pounds and were absolutely staggered when the amount was announced. Neville told of the relief he felt that this would cover the outstanding sum required by March when the new ambulance would be delivered
A Long, Hard Road
The road has been long and hard. The original asking price for a new ambulance when the appeal was launched over two years ago, was £40,000. As the time went by the price had rose to £48,000 by November of this year, when it was decided to order the vehicle before the cost went up again. Julie and Neville have had nightmares, thinking of what they would do if the price could not be met on delivery. Now they and the whole of Rye St. John Ambulance members can relax and enjoy Christmas and plan for the reception of their new vehicle, without which, under E.U. rules they would not be able to carry on their good works in this town.
In 2002 when Rye St. John were made aware that they would have to purchase a new vehicle an appeal was launched. Initially progress was very slow, the target seemed impossible to reach until Mayor Peter Dyce named this his annual charity and told everyone that “The impossible we do immediately, miracles take a little longer!”
Peter Dyce cajoled all sorts of people to get involved and the total slowly mounted. The St. John representatives worked hard too, attending every function that was held in aid of the fund and helping out everywhere they could. There were Fetes, Coffee Mornings, Jumble Sales, Christmas Fair even an Auction of Promises. Clubs and societies donated, individuals contributed, it was a real Rye effort.
By the end of Peter Dyce’s term in office half the money had been raised. New Mayor Paul Carey took the unprecedented step of picking the same charity for the second year running.
Supported by Mayor Carey, Rye Wheelers had a Fun Day on the Town Hall steps. Jimper wrote a book, had all the materials and printing donated. He promoted the book with many signings and gave the whole of the proceeds to the fund.
These and many other local endeavours pushed up the total until that amazing Saturday announcement at the Wellington Lodge which thrusted the total past the required amount.
It was a truly Rye effort, there were no grants from Rother or East Sussex. The people of the town know how much good work the members of St. John do. They supported them from the heart and the pocket.