The 2015 Gathering of The Friends of Tilling
The 2015 Gathering of The Friends of Tilling took place on Saturday 5th September in Rye. The Friends met at the railway station before walking up the hill en masse to Benson's grave at Rye Cemetery. Afterwards a light luncheon at The Mermaid Inn was followed by an insightful talk entitled "Never Sing Louder Than Lovely: Olga Bracely - An Appreciation" given by Richard Crowest. The talk is the result of "in-depth research" carried out by our own Darren Reynolds looking into the life and career of Tilling's favourite opera diva.
As evening fell, The Friends gathered again at The Mermaid in hits for dinner by candlelight. Our president Gyles Brandreth hosted the annual Mapp and Lucia Quiz - a very diffy one this year being set by the secretary of the E F Benson Society Allan Downend. It was won by a team consisting of David Chapin (from New York), David Thomas, Heiko Ströhl and their scribe Michael Winwood. The prize was a beautiful copy of "Fugitive Lyrics" created (and kindly donated) by Ian Beck. It is a volume of twelve of Pepino's poems including the eye moistening Loneliness and the enchanting The Secret Garden bound and illustrated beautifully. The second prize was a copy of Au Reservoir signed and donated by the author and Friend of Tilling Guy Fraser-Sampson.
The raffle this year was unusual in that there was only one prize; a script of Episode 1 of the recent BBC adaptation of Mapp and Lucia signed by the cast and generously donated by Steve Pemberton.
During dinner Gyles presented a President's Pin to Mr Allan Downend, who as secretary of the E F Benson Society has been a constant source of help and support to The Friends.
We were delighted to welcome Friends from all around the world this year including David from the USA, Annalena from Germany, Hélène from Canada and Tamirian from Brazil.