RYE author and Fletcher Theatre Group founder Frederick (Freddie) Lees has died.
Born in Cheshire, He served in RAF Bomber Command during the war as navigator and afterwards studied Geography at Liverpool.
After joining the British Overseas Civil Service he studied at London SOAS and then continued studies in Cantonese in Macau after which he was posted to Malaya where much of his work related to the post war countering of the Communist Insurgency. Learning to speak fluent Malay, he helped guide Malaya, now Malaysia to Merdeka! (independence) in 1957 and as a trusted friend of the people of Malaysia continued working for the Malaysian government until the early 60’s.
Subsequently he entered the British Diplomatic Service, which took him back to South East Asia at the time of Indonesian confrontation against the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.
In the 1970’s he became involved in the work of British and European non-governmental agencies active in Third World development; this, for a while, brought him to the Sudan in the aftermath of the first civil war and to Ethiopia in the period just before the anti-monarchical revolution.
Later he returned to diplomatic work to train the foreign service of Papua New Guinea. The last part of his overseas career was spent in the Asian Development Bank in Manila during the years of the “People Power” revolution against the Marcos regime.
As a writer he published diverse books from; The Arthuriad, set in the early Dark Age period of the 5th and 6th centuries AD Britain to ‘Annals of the Purple City’, a novel of east west human relationships rich in erotic and mystical elements, inspired by his time in Macau.
More recently he began an unfinished trilogy of semi autobiographical novels, ‘The Malayan Life of Ferdach O’Haney’ which encapsulates much of Freddies’ Malayan experience.
Two other recent novels, ‘The Rape of Rye’, described contemporary social life in this historic town and most recently “The first Lady” is a novel based on the life of Imelda Marcos.
A raconteur, always quick with a wicked (but kind) comment, and a wonderful mimic, Freddie was much loved by friends and family and especially within in his local community where he was a huge character in the local life of the town.
He was instrumental in setting up the Rye Theatre project, which is now set to become an integral part of the Rye festival celebrating the life and works of Shakespeare’s collaborator John Fletcher with Renaissance based plays music and comedy.
Freddie passed away peacefully on Monday 13th August after a short illness. Remembered with love by his Wife Marie, children Jeremy and Matthew and many friends and relatives.