RNLI Stalwart supporter of over 66 years died aged 93 in Rye East Sussex

Lifeboats News Release

Priscilla Ryan, one of Rye’s most well-loved residents, died on Wednesday 8th July with her family around her bedside.


Priscilla Ryan supporter and fundraiser for the RNLI for over 66 years

In 2014, she received special recognition from the RNLI at an informal ceremony at Rye Town Hall on April 24. For more than sixty years’ service in fundraising for the RNLI, Priscilla was given a bar to the gold badge she had received ten years previously. “This is our most prestigious volunteering award which supports the work of the lifeboat crews,” said Katherine Vasey, South East area manager of the charity at the time.

Priscilla was just nineteen when she started collecting donations from passengers at London’s Victoria Coach station and at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Later, she extended her collections door-to-door. These were made “After six p.m. because that’s when the menfolk got home with change in their pockets”, said Priscilla with a chuckle.

When Priscilla and her husband John, the cartoonist and animator best-known for his character Captain Pugwash, came to live in Rye in 1987 her work continued. John kindly donated the occasional Pugwash sketch to raise funds too. For many years Priscilla was the president of the RNLI’s Rye, Winchelsea and District Branch and retained the position when it merged with Rye Harbour Lifeboat Station Branch. she never shied away from the many challenges and changes that have faced the RNLI over the years and supported the local lifeboat station right up to the end. She could often be found in the souvenir shop in the Harbour, chatting to locals and drumming up support.

When KT Bruce, Press Officer at the station, began the pebble memorial project in 2019 Priscilla gave her a donation to get started with paints and brushes and even painted her own pebble. She supported every fundraising occasion and enjoyed coming down to the station to meet the crew.

Priscilla’s fund-raising also helped the purchase of a new state-of-the-art lifeboat for Dungeness station.

She will be sorely missed at RNLI Rye Harbour. Paul Bolton, LOM (Lifeboat Operations Manager) commented, “Priscilla was such an amazing fundraiser for our station and we are so grateful for all her support over the years. We send our warmest wishes from all the crew at the station to her family at this sad time.’

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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