Chamber’s Fight to Put on Christmas Lights Spectacular


Readers will know that Rye & District Lions Club organise the Annual Rye Raft Race & and also raise funds for various charities and may have asked themselves ” Who are these Lions and what do they get up to?” Well, Rye & District Lions Club is a small part of the world-wide organisation of Lions Club International which, with 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs in 196 countries, is the world’s largest service club organisation. Since being founded in 1917, Lions clubs have offered people the opportunity to give something back to their communities, particularly to those less fortunate. From involving members in projects as local as providing lunch for senior citizens to as far-reaching as bringing sight to the world’s blind, Lions clubs have always embraced those committed to building a brighter future for their community. “We Serve” is the motto of the Lions.

Since Lions were introduced to the UK and Ireland over 50 years ago, the Lions here have grown to 1,000 clubs with some 20,000 members, raising about £90 million each year. For 54 years the late Queen Mother was the UK Lions’ Royal Patron and now they are pleased that our “local” Royal, the Countess of Wessex, has taken on this role.

The Rye Club, which was founded in 1976, consists of 16 members, often assisted by their partners, and 8 “Friends” who, whilst not being able to commit to membership, are happy to assist when extra hands are needed. Each year Rye Lions raise thousands of pounds in various ways. One of their main fund-raising events is the Annual Rye Raft Race & Fete, where in addition to the fun of the rafts battling not only the current, but each other, there is also a large fete held on the Salts, with over 40 stalls and attractions and this year the total raised for charity was around £10,000. Other main fund-raising events are the annual Christmas Collection at Jempsons, Peasmarsh & Budgens, Rye, supermarkets. An innovation this year was a 12th Night Brass Band Concert at Beckley which attracted a great crowd and will be repeated annually, at least. Additional funds are raised with coffee mornings and raffles etc.

What do Rye & District Lions do with the money that they raise? First, it is important to say that every pound raised goes directly to charity, with absolutely no deductions for administration. The funds are distributed to a wide range of both local and international charities & appeals. When Rye Lions met a few days after the Tsunami, they immediately sent almost £2,500 to assist those affected by the disaster and Lions Clubs in East Sussex have also donated 3 new fishing boats to fishermen in Sri Lanka. Recently Rye Lions have made significant donations to St. Michael’s Hospice, the NSPCC, the Pakistan/India Earthquake Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Relief, in addition to contributions to Help the Aged, Rye Scouts New HQ Appeal and St. John’s Ambulance. They also organised a Sunday lunch for over 100 over 70’s residents from Rye & local villages.

Lions introduced the MedicAlert scheme to the UK. Since 1991, their Sight First campaign has improved the eye care of 100 million people, prevented vision loss to more than 24 million, carried out 7 million cataract operations, created 300 eye care clinics world-wide and trained nearly 68,000 health-care professionals – quite an achievement! Around the world they organise facilities for diabetes testing and they also collect and recycle spectacles and hearing aids in addition to many child and youth initiatives.

However, The Lions are not “all work and no play”. As well as their monthly business meeting, they hold a social evening once a month with partners, friends & neighbours, such as a meal out, a quiz or a beer & skittles evening. If you feel that you would be interested in joining Rye & District Lions, give Conrad Freezer a call on 01797 252921

Christmas Lights for Rye

Rye Chamber of Commerce’s fight to get Christmas lighting for Rye goes on. A required amount of around £25,000 will purchase and install this year’s new style lights. Already over £19,000 has been raised by way of sponsorship, grants and activities. Another £6,000 is needed and the Chamber have organised more events in an attempt to raise the extra cash.

Last year’s Chamber Chairman, Sarah Nixon, listed the forthcoming events and told a “Rye’s Own” reporter that if all were well supported a good portion of the money required could be raised.

On Friday & Saturday 22 & 23 September there will be a ‘Bucket Collection’ outside Budgens.

24 September sees a “Quiz Night” at the Union Inn and on the 18 October there will be Fashion Show at the White Vine organised by Niche and Juel.

On 7 November a Black Tie Dinner is being arranged at The George where there will be an Auction of Promises.

Hotcats are running a Grand Summer Draw with an amazing First Prize of a V.I.P. Visit to Rye. A ‘Three Night Break for Two’.

An Art Competition involving all Rye Town and local village schools, to include children in different age groups from 5 – 16 years will be judged by Neil Buchanan of B.B.C.’s ‘Art Attack’. The work will be displayed at an Exhibition to be held in Rye, probably at the Adult Education Centre around 9 & 10 December – A small entry fee will be donated to Demetre House Children’s Hospice.

Grand ‘Switch-On’ 1st of December

The lights will be switched on at the George Hotel at 6pm. by a celebrity as yet unnamed, after a procession that will include Father Christmas, arrives outside the famous High Street Inn.

Prizes for the Art Competition will be handed out by the Mayor and the result of a Window Dressing Competition will be announced.

The Rye Players will present a 15 minute Play and then Rye Churches together will sing carols. This will be followed by a Punch and Judy Show.

Meanwhile, at The Strand, there will be children’s entertainment and Xmas Pudding Races. The Rye Players will perform their play here and carols will be sung.

Cinque Ports Street will not be left out. The procession will pass here on its way to the High Street for the grand switching on of the lights. Then the carol singers will appear followed by children’s entertainment and the Rye Players.

The whole programme has been designed to provide something for everyone and to encourage the shops to stay open until nine o’ clock.

Thousands are expected in town for this unique occasion. Thanks to Sarah and David Nixon, Frank May, David Costic and others, the streets of Rye will be a colourful place again this Christmas

Drawing by Mick Avery