In the first of a two-part feature, the Rye Observer looks back at what made the headlines this year.
• Tributes were paid to ‘adored’ grandmother Valerie Deakin who died when a car crashed through the window of a coffee shop while she enjoyed a drink with her daughter on Christmas Eve.
David Lord, 87, later pleaded guilty to causing the death of the Udimore resident. He is due to be sentenced in January 2017.
• A woman was hailed a hero after she saved the life of a man who had a heart attack in the Camber Castle pub.
Mary Pocock gave the patient CPR and put him in the recovery position before the Rother Community First Responders arrived on the scene.
• A former Rye priest pleaded guilty to possessing more than 3,000 indecent images of children.
Paul Clarke, 71, used to live in Watchbell Road but was residing in Manchester at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.
• Shooting world champion George Digweed said he was ‘scarred forever’ after he was beaten during a violent burglary at his home in Northiam.
Masked men broke into Mr Digweed’s home, terrorising him and his wife Kate before stealing items including cash, guns, ammunition and silverware from his shooting successes.
• Mother Jodie White said she was left ‘disgusted’ after Brede Primary School gave her daughter a single slice of bread and fruit after she forgot to pay for one day of her daughter’s lunch.
• Three classrooms were damaged in a major fire at Buckswood School in Guestling.
The fire was discovered by cleaners in classrooms where building work was being carried out.
Children were enjoying their half-term break when the incident unfolded.
• Child killer Lesley Dunford admitted murdering her baby son 13 years ago - before dramatically changing her plea just a few days later.
Dunford, who was jailed in 2012 for murdering her three-year-old daughter at her home in Camber in 2004, originally pleaded guilty to the killing of Lucy’s brother Harley because she said she did not want to travel to court every day for the trial.
She later changed her plea for the second time and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
• The tenants of The Inkerman Arms in Rye Harbour said they were lucky to be alive following a devastating fire.
Julie Williams, Dom Higham and their dogs managed to escape the blaze which left an upstairs room burnt out and caused extensive smoke damage in other areas of the accommodation.
• Dr Ben Chishick retired from Rye Medical Centre after 32 years of service.
Dr Chishick was also a volunteer first responder for the Sussex Ambulance Service for 23 years until December 2015.
He was awarded the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Dr Chishick had worked for the NHS for 38 years.
• A fisherman with a back injury was saved by the RNLI Lifeboat, along with the coastguard helicopter, in a dramatic six-hour rescue operation off the coast of Fairlight.
• It was announced that the number of Police Community Support Officers patrolling the streets of Rother was to be halved from 18 to just nine in a Sussex Police reshuffle.
• Tributes were paid to Rye town councillor John Izod, who passed away aged 80, following a short illness.
• Rother Council revealed plans to raise around £195,000 by auctioning of several acres of land across the district.
Lots which were due to go under the hammer at The Marriot Hotel in London on May 9 included 71 acres of salt marsh and pasture land at Camber Fields and land in Camber and Winchelsea Beach.
• A walker called for more to be done in tackling discarded fishing ghost gear, fearing it could harm wildlife.
Tony Welwig, of Guestling, found piles of netting, plastic pails, large polypropylene bags, sharp metallic objects, ropes, wire and other hazardous objects on the shoreline behind Coastguard Square at Rye Harbour.
• Beacons were lit across Rother on April 21 to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.
• After two years of construction, the £30m sea defence stretching from Camber to Lydd was officially opened.
Dignitaries, Environment Agency representatives and residents gathered at the Broomhill Sands sea defence to mark the occasion.
The project should protect 1,400 homes and 100 businesses for the next century along the 2km stretch from The Suttons to Lydd Ranges.
• Brede Church was back looking its best following a £70,000 refurbishment to its roof.
St George’s Church has been covered in scaffolding as much-needed repairs to the roof, porch, leadwork, gutters and downpipes were carried out.
Work to the 800-year-old Grade II listed building took two months to complete and was helped by a 67,400 grant from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Scheme.
• A community’s bid to buy the 71-acre Camber Fields to stop it being sold at open auction was rejected by the council.
A group of residents had offered Rother District Council the full £70,000 guide price for the land through the Rye Fund ahead of the auction.
• A voluntary group for isolated pensioners was honoured with a prestigious award for its outstanding work in the community.
Pett Older People’s Project was given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and met Her Majesty during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
• The life president of Rye Bonfire Society and community stalwart Jimper Sutton died following a battle with cancer, aged 72.
Tributes were paid to the former Rother District Councillor and fisherman, who lived in Winchelsea Beach.
• Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of Battle band Keane, paid tribute to a Rye-based soldier who lost his life in Iraq nearly nine years ago.
Tom performed on Horse Guards Parade in memory of Corporal John Rigby.
Corporal Rigby,of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, was fatally injured in a roadside bomb attack near Basra Palace in 2007.
The former Robertsbridge Community college student was a childhood friend of Tom Chaplin’s wife Natalie.
• Two men caught carrying almost a tonne of cocaine off the coast of Rye were jailed for a total of 34 years.
Dutch nationals Hendrik Brugmans, 69, and Raymond Aalders, 47, admitted smuggling cocaine with a street value of up to £120 million.
The men were caught with the drugs hidden on a yacht known as Golem seven miles off the south-east coast of Rye on August 31, 2015.
• Rother voted to leave the European Union.
The area was the first in Sussex to declare, with 59 per cent backing leave, with a turnout of 79.3 per cent.
To be continued.