By Jim Hollands
It seemed that the whole of Tilling Green from the 1950’s and 60’s had turned up at Playden Church for the funeral of one of Rye’s unsung heroes. There were faces there I had not seen for 50 years or more. They came to pay respects to a very talented man.
I am very proud to be able to count David Smeed as a lifelong friend. We grew up together on the Council Estate which was built brand new in the years just after WW2 . It was a wonderful place to live, and we enjoyed virtually complete freedom and were able to wander the streets and explore the countryside at will.
In 1964 the Rye Movie Society was formed and both David and I became members. He was always known as the ‘youngest member’ in a club where there was a fantastic cross section of people. Clive Wall, Joan Camier, Joan Munn, Alfred Horner, Major Attwood, Fred Masters, Tony Knight, Bert Relf, Bill Beeson, Bert Schofield, Tony Tookey, Pauline Morris and many more. David’s amazing talent soon came to the fore. Not only was he an outstanding cine photographer winning many individual awards for his films, he turned out to be an enthusiastic and convincing actor too, starring in many Movie Society films, two of which went on to win the East Sussex Film of the Year Award.
David was part of a ‘gang of four’ from Udimore Football Club who were instrumental in getting a printing machine from Devon to enable “Rye’s Own” to be printed ‘In House’. This was in 1968. David, along with Mick Avery, Keith Fitzhugh and myself took the van belonging to my father’s television business, on a 500 mile round trip to Bristol to collect the Litho printer, which weighed 5cwt. When we got it back to Rye we managed to get it down the stone steps between 6 and 10 Cinque Ports Street and into the cellar.
This was not the only occasion David helped out with the magazine. He was often about when the collating and stitching was under way and would always help if we were short handed.
David worked in various potteries in Rye throughout his working life and produced some of the quality Rye Pottery that is so much sought after today. I still have a set of Goblets he gave me which he had designed for Cinque Ports Pottery. His biggest gift to Rye though is his collection of cine films and videos of Bonfire Nights, Rye Carnivals and so many other amazing town events he captured throughout his life. He was part of the Movie Society film team who covered the Queen’s visit to Rye in 1966.
In recent times he had been getting his films transferred to DVD and releasing them on Facebook. He had also turned his hand to painting and will, no doubt, have created pictures of Rye that will be enjoyed for many years to come.
David married Sheila Scriven in 1980. Sheila had been brought up on Tilling Green too. They made their home on Tilling Green and never moved away. They were an ideal couple.
At the funeral service mention was made of David’s part in the film “Sporran Affairs” when he roller skated round Rye wearing a kilt. Here are a couple of stills from that happy time in 1970.
David was one of the most thoughtful people I know. He had a gift of knowing how the other person felt and had that uncanny ability to know what to say to get a smile, whatever the problem. I feel sure that he would feel pleased if these pictures of him make everyone smile.
Lets all raise a glass tonight – “TO RYE’S GREATEST MOVIE MAKER’
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