Tributes paid to Rye visionary

TRIBUTES were paid this week to a man who had a vision of an independent and self-reliant Rye.

Dr Keith Taylor passed away quietly at his Lion Street home last week, aged 82.

In Rye he was known as the co-founder of the Campaign for a Democratic Rye and was the driving force behind the group that wanted to see the town take more control of its affairs and a shift in the power base from Bexhill to Rye,

He went on to see councillors elected for Democratic Rye and, in May last year, the group hold the majority on Rye Town Council.

Beyond Rye he was known and respected around the world for his lifetime work of medical research into diabetes, particularly in the way it affected younger people.

Dr Taylor developed an interest in the condition after being diagnosed with diabetes while in his teens.

Born in County Durham in 1929, in 1971 he gave the Banting Memorial Lecture, and shortly afterwards was appointed Professor of Biochemistry at Sydney University in Australia. Later he went onto become a Professor at Queen Mary College, University of London.

For many years he was also a consultant at the Kings College Diabetic Outpatients Clinic in London. Despite chronic ill health he continued his research work long after his formal retirement, and was still liaising closely with international colleagues till very recently. Shortly before his death, he completed work on a major publication in his field, a culmination of his life’s work.

Dr Taylor was also closely involved in the Friends of Rye Library, which he formed with his wife Margaret, actively campaigning to get the town a better library and with Rye rail action group Marshlink where, as a regular commuter himself, he was able to contribute much as well as highlighting the problems faced by local people using the rail network. He chaired a number of public meetings in the town.

He was a passionate believer in the importance of the NHS, and of a sense of community, and inclusiveness in local matters.

His wife Margaret said this week: “The family and myself have been totally overwhelmed by the messages we have received and by the way he was thought of in the local community.”

John Howlett, acting chairman of the Campaign for a Democratic Rye, said: “Many people in Rye, and indeed all over the world, will feel they have lost a close, warm and wise friend, a perpetual source of inspiration and humour, a man of deep principle and passionate belief who ignored age and any infirmity to spare nothing in pursuit of his ideals and aspirations.”

Cllr Granville Bantick said: “Keith gave so much to the community in which he lived.

“Throughout the 14 years I have lived in Rye I realised very early on that Keith had a great insight into the problems of Rye.

“Besides espousing to be a great Liberal of the old tradition, he was a keen to see changes in our governance at Rother.

“As chairman of the Campaign for a Democratic Rye for many years he guided it through numerous campaigns to increase both the support amongst the electorate, and to achieve his goal of seeing at the last election a majority of CDR members elected on to the Rye Town Council.

“He was no less enthusiastic to see more Liberal Democrats elected on to Rother District Council and in elections past that was twice achieved in Rye.

“Keith had a truly great brain. He will be sadly missed for his optimism, his good humour and his zest for living.”

He leaves Margaret, who he married in 1957, and three children Anne, Andrew and Nicholas

Dr Taylor’s funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) at St Mary’s Church, Rye.