Rye chef and artist auctions work in aid of RNLI

Jason working on his latest drawing. Photo by Kt Bruce.
Jason working on his latest drawing. Photo by Kt Bruce.

A familiar sight on the streets or in the shops of our towns and cities is that of an RNLI volunteer, complete with collecting bucket, writes Martin Bruce.

The RNLI is grateful that so many passers-by will make a contribution and pass on a few words of encouragement, as such giving is a vital part of the effort to support the charity that saves lives at sea and helps to enable our lifeboat stations to operate day-by-day, year-in, year-out.

Jason Reynolds. Photo by Kt Bruce. SUS-190531-110546001

Jason Reynolds. Photo by Kt Bruce. SUS-190531-110546001

But it takes a special impulse to be proactive about raising money for the RNLI.

Jason Reynolds, currently a chef at Rye’s burger restaurant The Hoof, recently presented a cheque for £100 to Rye Harbour lifeboat station volunteers at the town’s weekly market.

This is the story behind that generous gift.

Jason is by birth a Londoner (Boreham Wood) and from childhood days two of his passions have been cooking and drawing.

Jason delivering the �100 cheque to the RNLI stand at Rye Market. Photo by Kt Bruce. SUS-190531-110558001

Jason delivering the �100 cheque to the RNLI stand at Rye Market. Photo by Kt Bruce. SUS-190531-110558001

The first of these developed into a career: catering college in Aylesbury followed by wide experience in restaurants along the south coast – in Bournemouth, on the Isle of Wight and with Rick Stein in Padstow, for example.

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He had been visiting Rye since childhood and ‘fell in love with it’, he said, so that many years later it became an obvious destination for him and partner Jo.

Meanwhile he had never stopped drawing and painting, perhaps inheriting the skill from his mother, who was a graphic designer.

“I love starting with that plain sheet of paper and then filling it,” he said.

Often drawing would be the best way to wind down after a busy day in the kitchen. Jason is a self-taught artist but has enjoyed success selling his work on Facebook, and a website is in progress.

“I love going down to the Harbour,” he said. “Drawing the old boat house I was thinking about the Mary Stanford story and everything that today’s volunteer lifeboat crews do for us.”

The result, after auctioning the picture, was a £100 cheque to RNLI Rye Harbour.

During May, the RNLI ran its annual fundraising campaign – asking people to ‘do their bit, fund our kit’ – with the lifesaving charity hoping to raise £700,000 to fund the crucial kit volunteer crews rely on, like lifejackets, helmets and the RNLI’s iconic yellow wellies.

For more information or to donate, visit https://rnli.org/mayday.