Charlie Coleman 1921-2006.
Early in July a great friend of many in Rye & Iden passed away after many months of illness. Never letting on to anyone, except his immediate family, about his condition. News of his death came as a shock to all his many friends.
I along with many more have fond memories of a man that would do anything for anyone. Charlie did his bit for his country in the war in Burma then returned to live in Iden.
I met Charlie in the 1960s with his wife Dorothy and daughter Jane a few years younger than me. She joined all her cousins living in the area and together we enjoyed being young.
Many the night a dozen or more of girls and boys would swamp Jane’s home to listen to Charlie explain his ideas on some project we were planning, or his tales of the outside world that he loved so much, while his wife made us all coffee. We drank so much of the stuff that we all clubbed together and bought her a larger coffee pot made by Iden pottery. Along with the coffee we munched through countless bushels of lovely Cox apples that Charlie brought home from the farm where he was the Shepherd.
Charlie was well known to “Rye’s Own” and supplied it with many cartoons in the 1960’s and 70’s. Charlie was one of the sparks that keep the villages of England alive, he did more than his share in Iden, starting a twist club in the village hall, it was well patronised and helped all the local youngsters to meet once a week.
The group I hung out with called ourselves the Oast Boys and each year we entered a float in the Rye bonfire procession, always winning first or second place but then how could we lose with Charlie coming up with the idea and his skill of thinking up catchy phrases?
Charlie Coleman loved children of all ages and helped run the now well-known Iden Fete. His infectious drive for living got all us kids involved. At this year’s fete, take a moment to remember that this annual show came about because a few people wanted to put on an event for others to enjoy, Charlie was one of those.
For my 21st birthday he dressed the hall in cherry blossom and I shall never forget him holding huge boughs up into the roof while someone else tied them up, it took two 40-year-old trees to supply all the blossom.
That night every one who came had to sign a large ‘roll of honour’ decorated in fancy scroll by Charlie and at the bottom a huge clay seal in blood red which I still treasure, it has over 80 signatures of all the girls and boys that attended.
In 1969 Dorothy and Charlie left their little cottage in Grove lane Iden to work at a wildlife reserve near Upper Beeding in Sussex, his love for the countryside was immense and he taught me many things in the hours I spent in his captivating company.
He leaves behind him, his wife Dorothy, his daughter Jane, a grandchild and great grand child and for every one else, what many fail to do, love for all man and living things, wonderful memories and his cartoons.
I for one feel privileged to have known him, God bless you Charlie.
“Rye’s Own” August 2006
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