11th February 1927 to 1st February 2017
Peter was born in Herne Bay, Kent to Richard George James Dee and Herminie Anna Hilda Dee (nee Wedge). He had one older brother, Denis.
They moved to Rye in about 1932 and initially lived in one of the pre-fabricated cottages in West Undercliffe, opposite the water pumping station. They moved to Udimore Road in 1936 and Peter lived in the same house for the rest of his life.
Peter attended the Freda Gardham Secondary Modern School in New Road until he left aged about 14. Peter, his mother and Denis were evacuated during the war, but were only away for 8 weeks as they missed Rye too much. At school he received the cane once. King George V and Queen Mary visited Rye and the Headmaster had forbidden any pupils to go and see them. However Peter and a couple of his mates thought this was too good an opportunity to miss and slipped away from school. They duly saw the King and Queen in the High St.. They returned to school and were immediately told to go and see the Headmaster. The three of them received the cane for their disobedience. Peter always said it was a small price to pay!
His father, Richard, was a bus inspector for the East Kent Bus Company and died in the early 1940’s when Peter was a teenager.
Peter was a cadet in 304 Squadron Air Training Corps and played the drum in the squadron band.
On leaving school Peter secured a job at the Tollgate Garage on Winchelsea Road and stayed there until he volunteered for the Royal Air Force in April 1945. He wanted to be a flight engineer but as the war was nearly over there was no requirement for new flight engineers. After basic training at Cardington, Peter was posted to The Number 8 School of Technical Training at RAF Weeton in Blackpool where he served as a lorry mechanic, mostly servicing and repairing Bedford A10 lorries. He was medically discharged from the RAF in May 1948 after damaging his knee whilst playing football for the station.
He returned to Rye and obtained a job at the seed merchants on The Strand. After a few months there he secured a job at Spun Concrete on the Rye Harbour road in the stores. This is where his brother Denis also worked.
After several years at Spun Concrete he moved to Dean’s Rag Book Company in Tower Street, as the office manager. He was at Dean’s for about 10 years before securing a job as Camp Secretary at Pontins, Camber when it opened. He left Pontins after another 10 years and returned to Dean’s, where he worked in the toy production area and hand painted the toy chimps! After a few years at Dean’s, Peter started work as the caretaker at Leasam House when it was the boarding house for the Thomas Peacocke school. He retired in 1992 finishing as caretaker at the Freda Gardham School in New Road.
The Borough Council
In 1953 Peter stood for councillor on the Rye Borough Council. He was successful and became the youngest councillor to be elected to the Borough Council at the age of 26. He served on the council for 21 years and was the chair of the Highways Committee. He was an Alderman when he resigned from the council and in fact was the last surviving Alderman.
Rye Scout Group
In the late 80’s the 1st Rye Capt. Cory’s Own Scout Group was in need of leaders and Peter stepped in and became the Group Scout Leader and held this position for 10 years.
St Mary’s Parish Church, Rye
Peter was a chorister, server, member of the Parochial Church Council and Lay Assistant for a total of 58 years.
Cadborough Jubilee Social Club
This community association was set up to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee in 1977. Peter was chairman. It went from strength to strength and ran for 17 years organising Bonfire Night celebrations, fete’s, street parties for the local residents, Rye and Northiam branch Royal Air Force Associations.
Royal Air Forces Association Northiam & Rye Branch
Following on from his service in the RAF, Peter became a life member of RAFA and joined the Northiam and Rye branch. He was chairman for several years. He could always be seen in Rye in September collecting for the RAFA wings appeal. He also turned out on church parade as he felt it was his duty to represent RAFA and raise its profile. He was a member of RAFA for 68 years. He was also very proud to support the Royal British Legion and was always happy to sell poppies either in the town or house to house in Udimore Road.
Romney Marsh Shearing Society
The RMSS was set up to host the annual sheep shearing competition and contestants from all over the world took part. Peter was treasurer for 11 years.
He held the position of Local Education Authority Representative on the Freda Gardham Primary School Governors. He was also the Council Representative on Thomas Peacock School Governors.
Before joining the RAF, Peter played football for Icklesham Casuals. However his sporting passion was cricket. After returning to Rye after the RAF, he played for many years for Rye. He was a wicket keeper and captain of the 2nd X1. He served on the committee for many years and was made a life member in about 2010. He was very proud when his son David was selected to play for Sussex County Cricket Club U13 to U19. He would drive David every Sunday to either Alfriston or Hove for cricket coaching. The only problem was he was a life long Kent supporter and on the back window of his car was a “Support Kent” sticker!
Politics (not Borough Council)
Peter was a lifelong supporter of the Conservative Party, although he always stood as an Independent in the Borough Council Elections as he said he wanted to make decisions that were in the best interests of Rye and sometimes these would be at odds with the Conservative policy. He was Chairman of the Rye Young Conservatives, Divisional Chairman of the South Eastern Young Conservatives and Chairman of the Rye Conservatives.
One story he referred to was when Godman Irving MP visited Rye to do some campaigning. Peter met the MP at The George for lunch and in the afternoon they went to the local meeting where Godman Irving was guest speaker. As they left The George, Godman Irving said to Peter “Shall we take my car or yours?” to which Peter replied “It is probably best to take yours”. What he didn’t let on was that he had cycled to The George!
Peter was awarded the MBE in the 1996 New Years Honours List for “services in the community of Rye” He was presented with the MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 26th February 1996. We nearly didn’t make it due to the snow!!
Peter was a kind, caring and supportive husband, father and granddad. He always encouraged his children and grandchildren to do their best in whatever they were doing and instilled in them to know right from wrong and always to do the right thing.
He is survived by Sheila (wife), Richard and David (sons) and James, Isabelle and Liam (grandchildren).
In summary he was a true servant of Rye and a kind and caring family man. Although he was born in Kent, he really was a true RYER!
Rye’s Own Bulletin Tuesday 21 March 2017
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