by Arthur Woodgate
Now I come to a Rye Mayor who was very much ‘one of us’. Alf Horner inherited a general shop in the middle of Kings Street, Landgate. It sold groceries, green groceries, newspapers and all sorts of odd and ends. Alf and his wife Flo ran the business for many years.
Alfred Bolt Horner was elected to the council during the 1950s and in 1959 he was made Mayor for two years. Both the Mayor and Flo were from Rye working class stock They were so well known and liked.
Alf was a member (a Corporal indeed) of the Rye Saint John Ambulance Unit and had been on duty at the terrible Rye Harbour Lifeboat Disaster, giving artificial respiration for hours on the men as they were washed ashore in a desperate attempt to save them.
The Brigade turned out in our full uniform for a guard of Honour at their wedding and then pulled them, in their wedding car, all round the town.
Having found out that they were going to Folkestone for their honeymoon we asked at the Rye Station which Folkestone Station they had booked to, and were told “Junction”. Four of us, still in uniform, went off in a car with a poster saying “Welcome to Folkestone on your Honeymoon”, we got all set to meet them, but no one got off the train. They had been tipped off and gone on to Central, so we came home defeated, but all in good humour and caused a good laugh when we next met.
He remained in our brigade when he was Mayor.
He was a member of various organisations and clubs and continued to support them all fully even though the work load of Mayor of Rye was a heavy duty in those days when Rye was a Borough Council and were responsible for the day to day working of the town.
He was Hon, Secretary of the Boys Club in Mermaid Street and was willing to help the town all he could whether Mayor or not.
On his Mayoring Day I was invited to the Mayors Dinner. The only time ever. During that time I had been made National Chairman of my trade Union and it was suggested that our Annvac conference he held in Rye, but our arrangement team reported there was not a big enough hall or sufficient accommodation, so it was decided to hold in Hastings and invite the Mayor of Rye to join us for public session. This was done and Alf (no one ever referred to him any other way) attended. One can not imagine a busier person, but he kept up his St. John duties throughout his mayoralty.
I remember being on St. John duty with him in our first aid hut at camber one Sunday. He had a shoe box with him. Food rationing was still on and as he had a shop he had the various bits and pieces from customers ration books to sort out, so was doing that whilst sitting in our hut.
So we finished two years of a cheerful leader at the Town Hall and started with another quite happy sort of man who I hope to start writing about next time.