Rye pays its respects to legendary Jimper Sutton


The townsfolk of Rye bid a final farewell to much-loved local legend Jimper Sutton on Friday (July 8).

Jimper, the life president of Rye Bonfire Society, died on June 20 following a battle with cancer.

The 72-year-old fisherman and former district councillor, from Winchelsea Beach, was a much-loved local legend, with many members of the community turning out to celebrate his life at St Mary’s Church.

Jimper’s coffin was led to the church accompanied by the moving sound of the Section 5 Drummers and representatives from various bonfire societies across Sussex, including Rye, Hastings and Staplecross.

Canon Robin Whitehead, rector of Winchelsea, read a moving tribute from members of Jimper’s family capturing the essence of the father-of-three’s character - a resourceful, playful, family man, who loved Rye and its countryside bounded by the sea.

Jimper’s daughter, Claire, read the moving Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep and Jim Holland, a long-time friend, gave the eulogy of both moving and funny tales of Jimper and his colourful life.

Tim Phillips, lead singer of the 1066 Rockitmen, sang a moving rendition of Rainbow’s End.

Neale East, secretary of Rye Bonfire Society, said: “It was a moving occasion for a remarkable man, with respect, humour and a sadness.”

Jimper had collected hundreds of pounds for charity for the bonfire society over the years, dressed in his distinctive pirate’s outfit, complete with parrot on his shoulder.

Big-hearted Jimper also wrote a series of books on his memories of growing up in the Rye area and sold them to raise funds for the bonfire society.

He claimed to be one of the last keddle net fishermen on the south coast, using a shore-based fishing technique that dates back to the Norman Conquest.