In the second half of a two-part feature, the Rye Observer looks at what made the headlines in the last six months of 2016.
• A daytrip turned into tragedy after two men died in the sea off Camber Sands.
• Rye MP Amber Rudd was promoted to Home Secretary by new Prime Minister Teresa May.
• A blind dog and his owner embarked on a 190 mile coast to coast walk to raise funds for the Dogs Trust.While Michael Carter from Camber walked the whole route, 15-year-old fox terrier Basil, who had both eyes removed after developing glaucoma, spent part of the journey being carried in a customised rucksack.
• Hapless hound Marni, a Hungarian Biszla, was rescued by the Rye Harbour RNLI after getting stuck in mud near the harbour entrance.
• Housing association AmicusHorizon announced it was abandoning plans to build new homes at Tilling Green.
• Five men died after getting into difficulty in the sea at Camber Sands. Kurushanth Srithavarajah,27, Kobinathan Saththiyanathan, 22, his brother Kenugen Saththiyanathan, 18, Inthushan Sriskantharasa, 23, and Nitharshan Ravi, 22, had travelled together from London to Camber for the day when tragedy struck. The story made headlines in the national media and sparked a backlash against Rother District Council for not employing lifeguards on Camber’s beaches.
• A pilot was killed when the light aircraft he was flying ditched into the sea off Winchelsea Beach. The body of Simon Wells, from Greatstone in Kent, was recovered along with the wreckage of the plane a few days later.
• Work began on a £1.8 million engineering project to protect Fairlight from coastal erosion. The 12-week project saw contractors working on behalf of Rother District Council construct a 270m berm, or rock barrier, in front of the cliffs at Fairlight Cove.
• A heartbroken dog owner appealed for the public’s help in finding her beloved pet after he was washed out to sea at Camber. Labrador Murphy had previously saved Jenny Boyle’s life after she slipped on a patch of grass during a rainy midnight walk in Ireland, breaking her leg and ankle in several places. She passed out due to the pain, but Murphy tried to wake her up, and lay on her body, keeping hypothermia at bay. Jenny said she wanted to find Murphy’s body to give him the funeral he deserved.
• The widow of a Falklands War veteran won her High Court bid to keep the embryos she and her late husband created.
Samantha Jefferies, from Winchelsea Beach, was undergoing fertility treatment with husband Clive when he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014.
Their embryos were being stored frozen at Sussex Downs Fertility Centre in Eastbourne, but Mrs Jefferies was then told the embryos had to be destroyed because a two-year storage period had expired - despite the couple signing consent forms for 10 years of storage and posthumous use of embryos.
Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has since changed its policy and supported Mrs Jefferies’ application.
• A serious case review into the murder of Northiam schoolgirl Mary Shipstone, who was shot dead by her estranged father on her doorstep, revealed that the seven-year-old’s address had been accidently sent to him by her mother’s solicitor.
• Former Rye mayor Peter Dyce passed away at the age of 87. My Dyce was mayor from 2001 until 2003 and was heavily involved all things Rye.
He was a big campaigner and supporter of Rye Memorial Hospital, environmental issues, and during his mayoral tenure urged townsfolk to help save Rye St John Ambulance, which needed to raise £45,000 to replace its ageing vehicle.
• Kent man Mark Love was jailed after being found guilty of a violent robbery at the Northiam home of champion clay pigeon shooter George Digweed. Love was also found guilty of the murder of pensioner Roy Blackman at his bungalow in Biddenden.
• The 2016 Rye Arts Festival was hailed a success, with highlights including The Turn of the Screw opera and Terakaft – Tuareg blues musicians from the Sahara.
• A man who was almost hit by a delivery lorry forced to mount the pavement due to an illegally parked car launched a social media campaign to highlight ‘dangerous, selfish and irresponsible’ parking in Rye. The man, who calls himself Rye Scarecrow, launched the ‘Rye Parking Fiasco’ Twitter account in a bid to highlight the problem.
• Families of loved ones buried at Rye Cemetery voiced fury over the apparent state it was left in following council work. Relatives complained grass cutters working for Rother District Council had left behind a ‘disgraceful mess’, with discarded grass covering gravestones.
• HSBC announced plans to close its Rye branch in January due to dwindling footfall.
• The Blue Cross animal rehoming centre in St Francis Fields, Northiam, closed for good on October 14. The charity said the site ‘no longer met its high standards for the welfare of either the pets or our people’. The council later said it was considering buying the site with ambitions to create a ‘multi-purpose hub’.
• Rye and District Lions Club announced that the group is to fold after 40 years of raising funds for local, national and international good causes.
The club blamed dwindling membership for the decision.
• The pensioner who killed Udimore grandmother Valerie Deakin when his car crashed through the window of Costa Coffee in Westerham on Christmas Eve pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. Mrs Deakin, 74, died after David Lord lost control of his Audi A4 and crashed into the café. Lord is due to be sentenced on January 23.
• Rye Bonfire Society stalwarts John Izod and Jimper Sutton, who both passed away earlier in the year, were given a suitable send off when their ashes were blasted into the sky in a rocket as a grand finale to this year’s bonfire celebrations.
• The family of Rye Harbour teenager Nell Robbins welcomed her home for Christmas after she was taken seriously ill during a school trip to France. Nell was on a trip with Rye College to a PGL activity centre in Ségries, when she was struck down with pneumonia. Nell spent three months in a coma in a French hospital and nearly died three times. Mum Rachael Robbins said having Nell home ‘felt like Christmas’.
• Rye Harbour RNLI crew launched an appeal to raise £63,000 to buy a new lifeboat after the old one was written off on a night-time call out.
• Rye’s second annual Christmas Festival was a huge success. And the event’s profile was given a further boost when HolidayLettings.co.uk, owned by TripAdvisor, picked the popular festive fair for its article, ’where to go and what to do in December’.
• There was another blow for Rye Bonfire Society as it lost another long-serving member. Ashley W Booth, born in Rye and a member of the society from birth, created the society’s distinctive uniform.
• Rye pensioner Christopher Coverdale was set to spend Christmas behind bars after he was handed a 28-day prison sentence for refusing to pay his council tax - again. Seventy-year-old Coverdale claims the council tax is used to ‘fund terrorism’.