Ray played an important role as a Local Councillor, serving the community and the town that he was very passionate about. I am sure to all those who knew Ray, have their own special memories of the great man myself included.
I first met Ray during the selection process to find a candidate to replace the now late Sir Teddy Taylor. 180 candidates were whittled down to 20 then to 4. The final four were allocated someone whose job it was to drive them from place to place around Southend for a series of meetings. I was fortunate enough to get Ray who was fantastic, if not incongruent as a small man with a iarger than life personality and a car to match. His advice then, as in later years was invaluable.
Ray always seemed to have more energy and drive than those 20-30 years his junior. I always assumed he would go on forever such was his zest for life and generosity to the community.
Over the years Ray was omnipresent, particularly at the football club updating me on the football and political gossip whilst checking tickets. He loved the market at Roots Hall and took delight in introducing me to all the traders in the early days. His loyalty to the club was absolute and a trip to Roots Hall will never be quite the same. Managers and players came and went but Ray was all always there.
Politically he was extremely active in both the East and the West of Southend, bringing the two associations together. Ray was a man with extraordinary vigour in the council chamber, on the doorstep and with the associations. I do not know where he got his energy from.
His loss will be felt by the wider Conservative family and by the Blues alike.
May he rest in peace.
James Duddridge MP