Ryers Rally Round the Museum

Ryers Rally Round the Museum

Our Annual Garden Party — Ungardened

Our Annual Garden Party was to take place as usual in Rae Festing’s beautiful garden at 11 High Street, on Saturday July 19th. The day before saw the usual preparations: men erecting a marquee for the book sale and setting up tables, arrivals of bric-a-brac, plants, jams, handbags and scarves, tombola items, bags and boxes of books, including the entire contents of the East Street Museum’s bookstall, to spend the night under cover lest it rain. It was all to be arranged before opening time in the morning which we still hoped would be bright.

Tornado! (Call it a ‘high wind event’ or something else if you wish.) Power cut. Torrential rain. Trees down. Trapped cars. But might it all blow over in time?

Morning appraisal: Marquee collapsed, its broken bits strewn about the garden. Tables wet. But wasn’t the weather brightening? Tables wiped. Books to the garden and stored under tables, waiting for full sun.

It rained again. Reports of helpers stranded behind fallen trees, coping with leaking roofs . . . .  What to do? ‘We’ve got an hour’, said a level-headed director. ‘Let’s move everything to East Street . . . (Would that be physically possible?) . . . and people will understand if we’re still setting up at opening time.’ Our indefatigable chairman Jo Kirkham agreed.

And that’s when Ryers rallied round: a pair of gardeners arriving for a different job, a neighbour who spotted the scurrying, people bringing more contributions, stall volunteers, one with a pair of willing young grandchildren, early arrivals to the fair. . .  They all pitched in. The mangled marquee was removed, tables ferried and dried, multiple trips with bags of books delivered to the team sorting them into sensible order onto those emptied shelves and all the other items distributed to hastily allocated sale locations.

And of course the earliest visitors did understand. The chaos seemed to add to the interest!  One ex-Mayor sat at the entrance behind a tub for donations; another again worked his magic selling artwork, a guitar and ‘Special’ books. And visitors made new acquaintances at the tables where they took their cake and coffee/tea, and lingered to look around the museum, and the weather did brighten — so we extended opening hours and by the end of the day nearly 400 people seemed to have enjoyed the party though it wasn’t in that lovely garden.

Names would take too many lines and leave too many heroes unsung but Rye Museum wants to say a very big Thank You to all who helped turn a chaotic beginning into a great fundraising day after all.


First posted in News, Past Events on 22nd July 2014
Last updated: 8th September 2014