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Barbara Byne - St. Laurence Church

Home / Our Community / People of Ramsgate / Barbara Byne - St. Laurence Church
How long have you lived in Ramsgate?
I came to Ramsgate at the age of 17 with my parents from London and I left 5 years later and went back to London.

Why did you start helping the local community?
The first port of call was the church because I knew it had all those committees, social committees, flower ladies, holy dusters and I kicked off with them at lunch time, helping them with things like washing up.

I did this between seasons and once I retired it was like a swarm of bees, ‘now you can do a tour of the church’, ‘now you can do a tour of the churchyard’.

To start with I said ‘no’ because I have done that all my life and don’t want to, I want to do something different.

So I did bereavement visiting, help friends out house-sitting, child sitting and the first year I was pretty busy doing those things, well the first two years really and then by accident I got onto the council.

I thought I would get to know Ramsgate a bit better so I joined The Ramsgate Society, I did not do their walks but I swatted up on Ramsgate a lot, I kept an interest in my ward.

I told The Ramsgate Society, who had already asked me, that I would do their guided walks because I had already given in and started doing a guided tour of Ramsgate, I arrange The Ramsgate Society excursions now.

What are your earliest memories of Ramsgate?
As a child, I was brought up here with my brother by my grandmother and her sister, when on holidays and I fell in love with it.

What are your ambitions?
Well I see the St. Laurence Church and the churchyard not just as a place of worship, but as an asset that is very much misused.

You have a timeline of history in that church, it has been there since 1062AD and if people are interested in history, which most people are, you can go into almost every corner of that church and go through the ages, perhaps there is a dominance on the Napoleonic times and Victorian times but nevertheless the rest is there, I think it is important for Ramsgate to appreciate what they have there.

What are you currently working on or towards in Ramsgate?
To make St. Laurence Church an asset of Ramsgate and to do everything I can to encourage tourism.

Why did you start this current project?
The church tours, the walks and I have organised an open church, what is the point of having a church if you can’t see what is inside it, it was open before during the 1960/70’s and some things got broken and they decided to lock the door.

Where did you get the idea from to start this?
This was a suggestion by the church to share out and encourage people to learn the history of the church and people buried there.

What can Ramsgate look forward to from you in the future?
Given my health, more of the same, but I am getting towards the end of the perch.

How do you feel your contribution has helped or made a difference to Ramsgate?
I probably haven’t, little contributions here and there, with the church tours and The Ramsgate Society.

It is good to be part of the events organisation as we get to promote one another’s’ things, we were at Ellington Park and then they came to our Fair in August and everybody works together, we put their ads up and they put ours up.

Where do you see yourself helping the community in a years time?
I hope to be doing what I do now in a years time, but nobody knows the future so we will have to wait and see.

Interview by Dean Williams, Technical Officer
Interview Date: 20th May 2014