Ray Fooks, MBE
Very sad news to report I’m afraid that Ray Fooks MBE died last Tuesday (25 May) at the Lady Nuffield Home in Oxford. Mr Fooks was headteacher of Thomas Peacocke School for many years. He was his normal active and happy self until almost the end, seeing family and taking part in a drawing class within a few days of his death. He was 89. His ashes will be buried in Dorset alongside his beloved wife Marjorie.
This news has come from his son in law Nick who requested it should be circulated.
A suitable tribute will be included at a later date in the ROSA Bulletin and on the ROSA website.
In the meantime, a Memorial Page has been set up for tributes, messages and stories.
Richard Moore, Chair, ROSA
Michael and Paulina Metian
My elder brother Michael Metianu died in January 2021. Mike died on the 13th January at a care home near Maidstone at the age of 90. He had been in the home for some time and was not a well man, but it was Covid 19 that was the final straw.
Mike was at Rye Grammar School at Bedford, during the war, and when the School returned to Rye. He leaves a daughter Jane, and a son Jeremy.
My elder sister Paulina Metianu has also died. Paul (Metzi to her friends) died on the 11th April 2021, in a nursing home at Silsoe in Bedfordshire, after two strokes the previous autumn. Paul 96, was also a pupil of Rye Grammar School, which she joined before the war, and was evacuated with to Bedford.
Paul was Head Girl of RGS, and went on to a career in special needs teaching. She was a very keen amateur artist. Paul never married, and leaves no dependents.
I am Andrew Metianu, the youngest and only surviving member of the family, I was born in Bedford during the Evacuation and am 18 years younger than Paul. I was at Leasam / RGS from 1956-61.
John Pulford pays tribute to his father, John S L Pulford, who was one of the oldest surviving pupils of the Rye Grammar School Bedford evacuation years.
John Sydney Leslie Pulford was born in Rye in 1925 to an old-established Rye family. He was awarded a ‘Special Place’ at Rye Grammar School in 1936 and on the 21st July 1940 was evacuated with other staff and pupils to Bedford. John was never to return to live permanently in Rye again. His academic potential was quickly realised however and by January 1942 he was a prefect of Sanders House and one of the editors of, and regular contributors to, the remodelled School Magazine ‘Nova Rya’. By the time he left in the summer term of 1943 he was the School Captain and was described by the headmaster as a hardworking and loyal leader of the school. In 1942 he joined the Rye Grammar School Division of the ATC and in December 1943, joined the RAF at Cardington a few miles away. His poor eyesight prevented him from serving as air crew but he became an accomplished Sergeant Education Assistant, teaching airmen and air women in the Educational and Vocational Training scheme, preparing them for return to civilian life.
John kept in close touch, not only with many of his school friends, but with several of his teachers including Miss Turner, his headmaster Mr Jacobs, his landladies and even ‘Matron’ Francis from the hostel he was assigned to. Two of his close friends at Bedford were Rex Cowper and Graham Smith.
His final posting was to RAF Kiddlington where he met Dorothy, a WAAF corporal from Hull. They were married in 1948.
John was demobilised in September 1947 and was offered a place at Hertford College Oxford, where he read Modern History and was awarded a Batchelor of Arts degree in 1950.
John spent the first 10 years of his working life in the Estate Duty Office, studying law in his spare time, and he was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1955 opening up a career in the Magistrates’ Court Service. In 1985 he retired as Senior Chief Clerk at Thames Magistrates’ Court in London.
John was always a Ryer at heart and never missed opportunities to visit his family and old friends there. He passed away on 9th October 2020 aged 95, a dearly loved father, grandfather and great grandfather.
At Rye Grammar School c.1942
JSLP (front row far left) in Rye Grammar School ATC Bedford 1942
Rye Grammar School 6th Form Bedford 1942. JSLP back row 2nd from right
Phil Stone died in Canterbury on 11 May 2020. Phil was a former RGS student and in 1969 was appointed headteacher at Brede County Primary School where he worked until his retirement in 1989.
Phil’s daughter Kate has very kindly sent ROSA an obituary of Phil which can be read here Obituary, Philip Stone.
Sadly, Sam Ford has reported the passing of another former Leasam and RGS pupil. David Tritton died on May 2020, having been diagnosed with cancer a month before. ROSA sends its condolences to David’s family and friends on their loss.
Robert William ‘Will’ Eldridge
Sam Ford has informed ROSA of the very sad news that Robert William ‘Will’ Eldridge passed away on 26 March 2020.
Will was a pupil at RGS and Leasam House from 1965-1968.
ROSA sends its sincere condolences to Will’s family and friends.
George Hunt’s family have sent us the following information.
‘George Hunt, History Teacher, Head of Sixth Form, Deputy Head of Thomas Peacocke School, sadly passed away on Tuesday 4th February. George (born 1941) moved to Peasmarsh in 1978 and began his career at Thomas Peacocke School as a history teacher, soon becoming Head of Sixth Form where he built a thriving community and supported students with their career/university aspirations. He became Deputy Head where he focused on the well-being and pastoral care for all students whilst continuing to teach History, Politics and General Studies. After his retirement, he continued to examine as his passion for history never left him. He was father to Victoria, Stephen and Gillian, Grandfather to Addison, Sarah, Joseph, Henry, Jack, William and Elizabeth and, recently, Great Grandfather to Rose.’
Mrs Joan Gipson (nee Field)
Richard Gipson has sent us the following information about his mother:
‘My Mother, Mrs Joan Gipson, nee Field, passed away two and a half years ago. A copy of the ROSA newsletter has just been forwarded from Mum’s old address and so she must have still been on the ,ailing list.
Mum was born in Tillingham Avenue, Rye on 1st December 1920 to Mr & Mrs William and Emily Field. She remained in Rye until the late 1950s when she and her husband, the late Brian Gipson, who she met at a Grammar School Reunion, moved to Burton upon Trent with their two sons Michael and Peter Gipson. I, Richard Gipson, was born in Burton some 6 years later.
Mum remained in the East Sussex/Kent area throughout the Second World War and she worked as a GPO Telephonist throughout, largely in Greatstone.
Mum met Dad, Brian Gipson, who at the time was convalescing at Pett Level after being one of the first patients to receive replacement heart valves, in early 1953. They married in August 1953 and dad survived until 1999, having received a second set of heart valves in the early 1990s.
Mum lived to 96, and remained in the family home until around 5 months before she passed away.
Mrs Jean Turner (nee Blackman)
Jean’s son Ricky Turner has informed ROSA of the sad news that his mother, Mrs Jean Turner, has passed away. Jean was married to the late Colin, and her children, Susan, David, Ricky, Martyn and Elizabeth (Liz) attended the Rye senior schools. Jean was the daughter of Mr Blackman, who was headteacher at Rye County Secondary School, and the sister of the late Eve Beeney, who was the Headteachers’ Secretary as well as ROSA Secretary for many years.
The funeral is at Hastings Crematorium at 1.15 on Monday 16 April and afterwards at the George in Rye.
Jean aged 18
Martin Robert Jones
Richard Jones has informed us of the death of his younger brother, Martin Robert Jones. Martin died on or about 10 March 2018 in Cambridge. Richard has now informed us that Martin’s funeral will take place at Cambridge Crematorium, East Chapel, on Friday 27 April at 4.00pm. It is planned to intern Martin’s ashes in Rye at a later date.
Richard has provided the following information:
‘Martin was the youngest of us Jones boys (Peter and myself), attending Thomas Peacocke School from 1972-1979, from where he won a scholarship to Kings College, Cambridge to read mathematics. He liked Cambridge so much that he stayed there, working initially on finite element graphic software. It is evident that he had a leaning towards academia, and in his spare time had undertaken an Open University Masters degree and was actively involved with distance learning modules. He had recently announced his intention to undertake a Phd.
Our Mum and Dad (Basil and Daphne Jones (nee Breeds)) were also Old Scholars, attending RGS during the war years when it was evacuated to Bedford.’
If anyone would like to contact Richard, please email Tim Rothwell at email@example.com who will be pleased to pass on Richard’s email address.
Photo taken of Martin in 1987, relaxing in the flat in Cambridge that he made his home.
Lois Benton has informed ROSA that Gary Parkhurst, who was a Laboratory Technician at RGS in the 1960s, died on Sunday 14 January 2018. He married Jennifer Points who taught Biology at RGS. Gary was a very keen ‘radio ham,’ and helped with training the Air Training Corps (A.T.C.) in radio/wireless communication.
Gary and Jennifer spent most of their married life in Norfolk, both working in local schools. Gary’s funeral will be held in Norfolk on 2nd February 2018.
Gary is pictured here (third from the right, front row) with the ATC c 1960.
Babs and Keith Collyer have sent the following message to ROSA: ‘It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the death of Terence Barden on 14th October 2017 after a short but cruel illness. Terry was a pupil of RGS from 1958 – 1965. He was the younger brother of Beryl and Madelaine Barden who both attended RGS.’
Terry was highly regarded as an actor when he was at RGS, and appeared in a number of school plays. Here he is playing the role of Macbeth in 1965 to Alison Hadley’s Lady Macbeth. (See also School Plays).
Harold and Brenda Pearce
Lois Benton has informed us that Harold Pearce, Maths teacher at Rye County Secondary School and Thomas Peacocke School, and Head of School House at TPS, died in Malvern in August aged 91 years. His wife, Brenda, died on 21st November 2017 aged 92 years. Her funeral is to be held at Worcester Crematorium on Friday 22nd December 2017. They moved to Malvern after Harold retired to be near their daughter Elizabeth.
This photo of Rye Secondary School staff circa 1955 shows, we believe, Harold Pearce 7th from the left in the back row, between Eve Rogerson on his right and Bob Huxstep on his left.
We have been given the sad news by Brian Thompson’s daughter, Nic Cusack, that Brian died at Edendale Care Home in St Leonards-on-Sea on 28 November 2017, aged 82 years.
He was a pupil at RGS in the late 1940s/early 1950s. He was married to Janet for 57 years, and lived in Icklesham for most of his married life. He was the proprietor of The Strand Garden Shop (now the Old Grain Store).
Brian’s funeral service was held on Friday 15th December 2017 at Hastings Crematorium. Donations in Brian’s memory can be made to Parkinson’s UK and St Michael’s Hospice, c/o Ellis Bros, 3 Ferry Road, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7DJ.
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Margery Nettle (nee Odell) who died in the Royal Surrey Hospital on 27 November 2017, aged 77.
Margery had served on the ROSA Committee for many years. She was the daughter of Ernie Odell, the well-known Rye figure who ran the bike shop in Market Road. Margery and her two younger sisters, the late Christine and Eileen all attended RGS.
A Service of Thanksgiving for Margery’s life took place at St Mary’s Church, Rye, on Tuesday 19 December 2017 at 2.30 pm. The church was full with Margery’s many friends and family remembering her with love and affection. Her sister Eileen and her family had come over from Australia to be there. ROSA was well represented as was appropriate, given all she had done for the Society. ROSA has made a donation to the Mothers Union (see second photo below) in memory of Margery.
The following are taken from the Service Sheet.
ROSA have learnt with sadness of the recent death of Tim Brodrick, a former pupil at RGS and a well-known and highly respected veterinary surgeon for many years in Rye.
Berni Fiddemore has paid tribute to Tim in Rye News of 30 November 2017 here
ROSA are sad to hear of the death of Marjorie Fooks, the wife of the former headteacher at Thomas Peacocke School, Ray Fooks. ROSA President Richard Moore, who was the first headboy at the school under Mr Fooks, has written to Ray Fooks to pass on the sincere condolences of ROSA on his loss.
Judy Agus – Nee Whyatt
ROSA have received the following very sad email from Roger Whyatt.
‘It is with great sadness that I would like to pass on the news of the death of my sister Judith Agus- formally Judith Whyatt- who attended Rye Grammar School from 1960-1967. Judy died of cancer after a short illness on the 14th February aged 67 .
Judy retired several years ago as Chief Librarian at the Royal Welsh College of Music. She and her husband decided to retire to the Lake District and spent a very happy 18 months renting a house near Penrith before eventually buying their own house. Sadly Judy passed away before she had the chance to move in. Judy and her family spent many lovely holidays visiting a wide number of countries in Europe, the last one when she retired, being a fantastic rail holiday round Scandinavia. It goes without saying that she will be greatly missed by us all.’
Tim Rothwell adds:
‘Judy was in my year at both Rye Primary School (where she was head girl, and I, for reasons I still don’t understand, was head boy) and RGS. We were school friends for nearly 10 years. She has left us far too soon. As Roger says, she was a thoroughly lovely person.’
It is with great sadness that ROSA has learned of the death of Graham Saunders, who was a pupil at RGS in the 1950s/early 1960s. Graham died at home on 1 November 2017, aged 74.
Graham’s funeral service was held on Tuesday 21 November 2017 at Rye Harbour Church, followed by committal at Hastings Crematorium.
After retiring from farming, Graham trained guide dogs for the blind.
Donations in Graham’s memory can be made to Guide Dogs For The Blind, c/o Ellis Bros, 3 Ferry Road, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7DJ.
Joy Lofthouse, who flew Spitfires from the factory to airfields during World War 2, and who in later life taught at Thomas Peacocke Lower School, has died.
The ROSA Bulletin for 2015 carried a feature on her. The Bulletin is available here
Michael Hickman has sent the following extract from the RAF Association Magazine for January – March 2018:
‘Joy Lofthouse passes away
The Association was sad to hear of the death of honorary life member and Air Transport Auxilliary (ATA) pilot Joy Lofthouse, who passed away in November aged 94.
Joy joined the ATA in 1943 after seeing an advert in a newspaper asking for women to fly. She was one of only 164 female pilots, trained to deliver aircraft to wherever they were needed during WWII.
She learnt to fly all types of single seater aircraft, but the Spitfire remained her favourite. she said “It’s the nearest thing to having wings of your own and flying.”
Nick Bunting, Secretary General of the RAF Association said: “Joy delivered all types of aircraft – including Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mosquitos and Lancasters – all over the country during WWII and was an honorary life member of the RAF Association. We have lost an inspirational member and send our condolences to her friends and family.”‘
Richard ‘Rick’ Merricks
Rick’ passed away suddenly on the 20th June 2017, aged 77. He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather. A farmer, a gentleman, known and admired throughout the cricketing world. A Funeral Service was held at St. Georges Church, Brede, East Sussex on Thursday 13th July 2017.
Donations in memory of Rick can be made here
As has been widely reported in the national press, Professor Brian Bellhouse died in tragic circumstances in Guestling, East Sussex, on Monday 12 June 2017.
Professor Bellhouse was a former Rye Grammar School pupil and regularly attended the ROSA annual lunch.
Professor Bellhouse, who lived in Winchelsea, was an Emeritus Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford.
In a statement, this statement the University of Oxford said it was sad to announce the death of Professor Bellhouse, who arrived in 1957 to read for a degree in mathematics.
It said: “He obtained his DPhil in Engineering Science in 1964 and was then made a Fellow by Examination. He was elected an Official Fellow in Engineering Science in 1966.
“On his retirement in 2004 he was elected an Emeritus Fellow.”
The statement added he “co-founded the company PowderJect in 1993, which became one of the first companies to be spun out successfully from the University of Oxford and was based at our Oxford Science Park.
“Brian was a major donor to the college and endowed the Oxford-Bellhouse Graduate Scholarship at Magdalen in biomedical engineering.”
The Times has carried an obituary to Brian Bellhouse here
ROSA President, Richard Moore, has written a letter of condolence to Professor Bellhouse’s family on behalf of the Association.
Christine Carter – A tribute by her sisters
It is with great sadness the Carter sisters announce the passing of Christine on 29th May 2017 aged 82. after coping admirably with failing health for the last four years. She was born at Fern Bank Maternity Home and lived in Winchelsea till her marriage to Derek Caister (R.G.S.1946 – 1953) in 1957 by which time she had qualified as a Junior School Teacher and she had a post at Woodchurch School, and they made their first home in Newhaven where she taught at the local school. After two years Derek took a post in Northampton and Christine took a break from teaching to start a family. During the following years Derek, a Civil Engineer, gained promotion and they settled in Derby with Christine leading a very active life teaching, being an enthusiastic member of Derby Choral Union, and Treasurer of the local Gardeners Society.
Derek passed away quite suddenly In November 2002, after a long battle with Kidney Failure, but thankfully, by this time Christine had two sons, a daughter and four granddaughters who all lived very near to her.
As sisters we have all been very close and managed visits several times a year, and Christine was always very glad to be down near the sea!
Despite over fifty years away there was a part of her heart that was in her beloved Sussex, and indeed, as requested in her Will, her Ashes were Interred in our parents grave in Winchelsea Church Yard. So now we are three!. Rosemary, widowed and living in Canterbury. Valerie living on the Isle of Wight. And Kathleen living in Littlestone.
Memories of Jill (Diane) Pope
Jill was born in Chatham on 17th January 1943 and christened Diane Gillian Margaret Hammond. She later moved to Rye and then Winchelsea Beach with her parents. Jill met Allan at a dance in the Winchelsea New Hall on 19th September 1958 when she was 15 and then they started courting. Allan played football for Rye United and Jill always went along to watch and cheer him on!
Jill left school at 16 to work in Bunty’s Sweet Shop in Rye as her mum Lily was unwell so she ran the shop for her. She went on to work in the laboratory at Bexhill Dairy and had to catch the 7am bus and was not back before 6pm. Jill then went to work at Hastings High School in their laboratory which meant less travelling!
They built their first home together and called it Robins Elm. Jill used to mix up the mortar while Allan laid the blocks. On one occasion he was called away at short notice to play football in Chichester so to save the mortar drying up and going to waste Jill carried on building! They always worked as a team.
They were married on 19th September 1964 and then along came their much wanted daughter Astrid on 2nd April 1970. Allan continued playing football for Rye United and cricket for Winchelsea and The Rugby Club. Jill and Astrid went along to watch the cricket each Sunday and then when Allan became the captain Jill did her fair share of the cricket teas, assisted by Astrid who had to butter the bread!
As a family they enjoyed lots of lovely holidays in Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire and Cornwall with their dogs. Jill loved the countryside and beautiful gardens and never had a great desire to holiday abroad but when an opportunity came up for her and Allan to go on a trip of a lifetime to South Africa with friends she decided she would give it a go. She enjoyed it very much but didn’t wish to go abroad again as she was content with her life here!
Around the late 80’s they fell in love with Eastwoods and moved there to renovate it and make it their own. It was a wilderness which they tamed over the years.
Jill and Allan were overjoyed to become grandparents. She enjoyed spending time with them reading stories and teaching them how to knit and sew. She was so very proud of them both and they made her smile with their funny comments and sayings.
Jill had so many friends, some from childhood who she still kept in touch with, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
ROSA is very sad to hear from his daughter, Susan Goacher, of the passing of Peter Caister.
Peter Caister attended Rye Grammar School in 1938. During the war Peter’s father joined the RAF and was posted to Devon so the family moved away from Rye Harbour where they lived and Peter was later evacuated to Bedford. However, on his return to Rye Harbour Peter did go back to Rye Grammar School to complete his education. He attended many of the Rye Grammar School Reunions throughout the years and thoroughly enjoyed meeting old school friends.
ROSA sends its sincere condolences to Susan and her family on their loss. We hope to carry a more detailed tribute to Peter later.
Peter Boyce – Funeral
Mr Peter Boyce, who was a much-respected teacher at Rye County Secondary School and then Thomas Peacocke Comprehensive, passed away on 7 March 2017.
ROSA sends our sincere condolences to Mr Boyce’s family and friends.
We have included a couple of reminiscences about Peter Boyce on the Memories page.
Peter Boyce’s funeral was held on Wednesday 29 March at Hastings Crematorium. Friends and family gathered afterwards at the Flackley Ash Hotel, Peasmarsh to continue their celebration of Peter’s life.
Barry Fuller, a former colleague of Peter’s, has sent the following:
‘ Standing room only at Hastings Crematorium this morning, to say farewell to a properly nice man and a true gentleman.
Friends and ex-colleagues turned out in number to attend. From the School, all that was required would have been Ray Fooks, (who couldn’t make the ceremony in person, but made his appearance in the eulogy) then he could have called a Staff Meeting! 19 colleagues made their way there, all displaying various levels of infirmity, due to the onset of older age.
Ted Taylor – CDT
Peter Jobling – Tech. Drawing
Dave Hancock – Metalwork
Seymour Leeds – Chemistry
Don Beeney – Maths
Richard Seeley – Maths
John Stewart – Art
Jo Kirkham – History
Andy Lewis – Humanities
Lois Benton – Music
George Hunt – Head of 6th Form
Norma Hunt –
Martin Blincow – PE & Bus. Studies
Bryan Atkins – Bus. Stud. & Economics
Ed Wiseman – EPA & Politics
Maureen Getley – History
Chris Rose – English
Graham Turner – Humanities
Barry Fuller – PE & DT
As far as these occasions can be, this was wonderful. Kath (Eldest daughter) was overjoyed at one stage when there were many separate outbursts of laughter around the room, from people sharing various reminiscences. ‘He would have wanted this, it’s wonderful!’
Family and friends saying goodbye to Peter Boyce at Hastings Crematorium (photos courtesy of Barry Fuller)
Donations in Peter’s memory to aid the work of the Royal British Legion or the RAF Benevolent Fund may be sent to the Funeral Directors:
Arthur C Towner Ltd; 2-4 Norman Road; St-Leonard’s-on-Sea; East Sussex; TN37 6NH
Cyril George Sharpey Saunders
March 25th 1928 to January 19th 2017
My brother Cyril Saunders was born in Rye Harbour a few months before the Mary Stanford lifeboat disaster in November 1928. Rye Harbour remained his home through out his life apart from time spent as an evacuee and during national service in the Air Force. Cyril gained a place at Rye Grammar School in September 1939, just as the second world war started.
Once the character of the war changed and the south coast became a danger area many local families were evacuated. The Grammar School went to Bedford for four years. Cyril lived with the same family throughout that time in Goldington, a very pleasant area of Bedford. For several years after the war ended his host couple spent their annual holiday with our family in Rye Harbour. They delighted in the shore and open countryside.
The School returned to Rye in time for Cyril to enjoy the sixth form at home. He did well in Higher School Certificate and gained a place at Brighton to study design engineering. National Service was obligatory and he decided to do this before further study. He had enjoyed the ATC at school so chose the Air Force. He decided to do three years and had interesting experiences in many aspects of aeroplane maintenance.
At the end of this he returned home and refused to take up his opportunity for further study. This upset my father greatly who valued education enormously. He was born in 1891 and gained a scholarship to the Rye Grammar School in 1902 from the village school. Sadly he could not go as the family were unable to afford the cost of his uniform! How life has changed!
Up until this time Cyril had shown little interest in the family farm. My Father was most concerned that the only wanted to be involved because he did not want to live away from home again. There were many long discussions between him and our parents. But he was adamant he was not going away again. Father said he must be apprenticed to the shepherd and learn sheep farming thoroughly. So began his experience of all aspects of sheep management including lambing and shearing. As the years passed he became more involved in the buying and selling of stock.
As with all farms the progress of time demanded many changes. The breeding flock increased as the land increased. As
father got older Cyril had more responsibility for the farm management and development of the land and stock. Father died in 1976. Since then he had shared responsibility with his younger cousin Graham.
Cyril has always enjoyed having a gun dog and for many years sheep dogs. Morning and evening ” flight” for wild fowl was a regular hobby during the season. In latter years he enjoyed days out with shooting syndicates further inland. An annual holiday in Scotland with his friend Charlie in January to enjoy shooting on the Scottish moors was a highlight for many years.
His knowledge of the range of sea birds in Rye Bay was a special interest. One of his most remembered holidays was a cruise to the Arctic Circle with his binoculars. The men’s club in the village was a pleasant activity during the winter months with the area billiard challenge matches with other villages was much enjoyed. There are endless cups and other trophies gained through the years. Cyril held a variety of posts in the organisation and management of the club.
Cyril continued to live with his mother who died in 1983. In the following year he married Molly who came to live in Castle View. Village and farming life was a challenge to Molly who had been a nursing sister . However she survived the rigours of both. In 1990 they were delighted to adopt Nirosha from Sri Lanka who has given them much pleasure through the years. Sadly his physical ability declined to such an extent that he spent the last three years of his life in a care home.
Cyril always remembered Rye Grammar School as a very formative time in his life that he had enjoyed and valued. The evacuation years made it a special time for gratitude to the staff who met the challenges of being in a strange situation with much care for the scholars.
Sheila Saunders August 2017
Reflections of a true ‘Ryer’
Peter Robert Dee M.B.E. 1927-2017
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.
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.
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. Peter was a chorister, server, member of the Parochial Church Council and Lay Assistant for a total of 58 years.
The Cadborough Jubilee Social Club 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.
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.
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!
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
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!