RYE CHARACTERS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
BY THE EDITOR With the help of information supplied by Ringo’s family and the 1991 Mayor of Rye George Shackleton.
If you had ever met him, you would never forget him. Brian ‘Ringo’ Chapman was a ‘one off’. In his far too short life he accomplished more than many people of far superior intellect achieve in double the years.
Brian was born at Camber on 21 May 1948, he was the eldest of five children. He was educated at Rye Primary and later at The Secondary Modern School in New Road.
He loved to help the milkman deliver milk on his early morning round before setting off for school. When he left school at 15 he got employment with Maddison’s Holiday Camp in the village.
He worked at the camp until he moved to Rye and joined the staff of Rye Borough Council as a groundsman. He was later transferred to the Refuse Department and soon became widely known around the town. He wore a badge encrusted cap which enhanced his cheerful, helpful and considerate disposition and endeared him to the many Rye people he met working with the dustcart.
With his natural inclination to be helpful to others and his wonderful way with people, Ringo was invited to become an active member of numerous organisations in the Town. He volunteered his help to many local charities.
I remember him as one of the founder members of the Rye Community Centre Association along with myself, Canon John Williams, Phil. Ellis, Colin Stutely, Elizabeth Kent, Henry Everest, Barbara Wood, Mr. R.L. Stroud, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Wood.
‘Ringo’, a former choir boy and an avid Beatles fan was music mad. He built up a large collection of records and organised Disco’s. Once the old Congregational Church had been acquired there had to be much more cash raised to turn it into a Community Centre. The main hall was decorated by ‘Ringo’ and many more hard working youngsters and the first event there was a dance – to the music of “RINGO’S DISCO’ – It was a great success and many more followed. Brian was one of those brave souls who entered the “Sponsored Walk” to raise money for the cause. The route started at the Football Salts and went by footpaths and byways along the coast past Winchelsea Beach and Fairlight to the Old Town at Hastings, then turn round and walk back to Rye. All competitors were completely exhausted by the time they got back to Rye, needless to say, Brian ‘Ringo’ Chapman was among those to complete the entire course.
Brian ran a Children’s Saturday Club at the Centre. Around this time he became noticed by the media, appearing in ‘Country Ways’ and later doing a radio broadcast for the BBC.
Besides the Community Centre Brian was active with many other organisations, Rye Medieval Society, Crime Prevention, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the Residents Association, Local Branch of Multiple Sclerosis and Chairman of the Boy Scouts.
Ringo was a member of Rye Bowls Club. There is a Trophy and a Bench in memory of him at the Club.
In 1983 he was elected onto Rye Town Council at a Bye Election and served for seven years with his usual enthusiasm until his untimely death on 30 August 1991 at the age of forty-three. He was buried at Rye Cemetery overlooking the town he loved so much.
It is over twenty years since Brian died but his enthusiasm still inspires his family and friends.
“Rye’s Own” March 2012
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