Robert Vincent – A True Ryer


No man is more deserving of the title ‘True Ryer’ than Robert Vincent, who died at the Conquest Hospital on Saturday 13 October 2012.

Robert was know to almost every soul who lives in the town. His own particular brand of humour seem to make everyone smile.

He was born in Rye, went to school in Rye, played football for Rye, worked in Rye and lived in Rye for his entire lifetime. The eulogy, read at Robert’s funeral by son Graham will be appreciated by all who knew him and were not able to attend.

“Robert Joseph Vincent was proud to be classed as a true Ryer, he was born in Military Road on July the 6th 1937, shortly before the start of world War 2. His formative years were a real boys own adventure, he often recalled war time memories, everything from the cinema getting bombed, collecting un exploded incendiaries from the town salts, to looking down on a spitfire as it chased a Luftwaffe aircraft at very low level along the bottom of Cadborough Cliff. His childhood continued as childhoods do until the death of his father, from this day on, he was thrust into adulthood, something that I was always reminded of whenever my jaw dropped when as a young lad he would ask me to mow the lawn or dig the vegetable patch – his response was always along the lines of “at your age I was running 2 allotments as well as doing a butchers and bakers delivery round.

The responsibility of becoming the man of the house did not stop him from enjoying a full young Ryers life. Now is probably not the best time to relate some of the stories that he has told me, but I do know that the best place to stop with a young lady on the way home from a dance, is outside the bakers that was next to the windmill on the River Tillingham, the heat from the bakers ovens warmed the outside wall which is apparently a good thing if you are walking home from a dance in the company of a young lady.

Despite his age, his man of the house status propelled him into manly pursuits and before he was legally allowed to be in, let alone drink in a pub he was the top player for the Pipemakers Arms in the Star Breweries darts league. His trips around the local area playing darts gave him a solid knowledge of the hostelries of Rye and its villages, extending westwards towards Hastings and Battle and taking in Romney Marsh to the east. It was a knowledge that would never leave him, many is the time that I have worked with him in some far flung farm cottage in the middle of the marsh with lunch-time approaching, for him to say, Come on, lets go and get a bacon sandwich at the Whats his Names Arms, and magically he’d navigate lanes and farm tracks in his mini van and we’d end up at some very nice country pub.

The next big turning point in his life was meeting and marrying my mum. He maintained that the first time he saw her she was being carried out of a party slightly worse for wear and thought then that “theres the girl for me”. My aunt Veronica, who was responsible for getting them together, tells of one dance during their courtship where whilst waltzing he kept lifting the back her dress so that he could see her petticoats in the long mirror at the side of the dance floor. From that day, whenever you saw them they were invariably holding hands. They did everything together, mum was never just Robs wife, he made sure that his friends were her friends and she made sure that hers were his. One of the things that couples like my parents do, is dance – a lot, and for as long as Sally and I can remember, they would Jive at the drop of a hat, often to our joint embarrassment because parents just didn’t do that.

For those of you who have seen his garden, you will know that it looks fantastic and that he took great pride in it. If he was in the garden he was happy. In the morning, he’d stand on the verandah, looking out at the immaculate beds and lawn, when asked what he was looking at he’d answer “just surveying the estate”

Many of you will have known him initially through his work as a plumber, his career started out as an apprentice with Ellis Brothers, moving on to him starting up his own one man plumbing business in Rye, he claimed that at one time or another he’d worked in pretty much all of the houses and shops in Rye, I don’t think anyone can doubt that. I said that many of you will have known him initially as the plumber, as more often than not, the professional relationship led on to a personal relationship and I know there are several people here to today who fit into this category.

Whilst writing this, I had so many things that I wanted to say, I didn’t struggle for material as the old fella had crammed enough into his 75 years to fill volumes, these few pages barely scratch the surface of all he has achieved and experienced. I sent the first couple of drafts to my Uncle Paul to have a look at and comment on, his reply was encouraging, saying that I had expressed and conveyed a great deal about his brother. The reply also told of his breaking the sad news to my Aunt Jo in America.

I’d like to quote from Pauls reply:

When I told Jo on the phone in USA she cried and said, “But he was such a funny man”. We share that view for he had a fantastic sense of humour and mischief. I suspect that many others will see that as well. He could tell a joke better than ‘Live at the Apollo”, had his own vocabulary, and liked a practical joke.

Who’d have believed we’d be doing this



If his life needed to be summed up in a few lines, those lines do the job admirably.

I could go on with many stories that he has told me over the years, of his work exploits, his fishing successes and disasters, or the time that he bought my sister a flat cap

so that she looked the part when going to work with him. I could recount tales of him and his dogs. His sporting history alone would probably take a couple of hours to relay in its entirety, I think these would best be left for later and discussed and celebrated in depth over a pint or two.

I said that to a lot of people he was the plumber, to many more he was Bob from the pub, to his family he was Husband, Brother, Uncle and Granddad. Sally and I did not have the opportunity to be a grandad’s grandchild, and as such we probably missed out on something special as we grew up. Bryony, Jasmine, Jessica and Chloe will grow up to be better people as a result of knowing someone so truly amazing.

Robert Joseph Vincent, a true Ryer, passed away shortly before 5pm on October 13th 2012 – just in time for the pub to open.

He was Plumber, Husband, Brother, Uncle, Father-in-law, Grandad and true friend, but for myself and Sally he was Dad, and we’re going to bloody miss him.”

From the November 2012 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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