Friendship: Ray’s inspirational legacy


“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.”

This quotation from the poetry of W.B.Yeats was read to the large assembly at the funeral on 31 January 2014 of William Ray Eden: his personal request made just days before his death after a short illness.

Aged 92, Ray continued to build new friendships whilst remaining loyal to those he had made across his lifetime – and winning deep loyalty in return.

Charles Linaker, in a eulogy full of warmth and insight, pointed out the active role Ray played in the community right to the end – as the Newcastle CC committee member responsible for liaison with the Royal Grammar School, as an active member of the RGS “Novos”, and as recently appointed Deputy Chairman of the Jesmond Senior Men’s Club.

Ray doing a video interview in Hussars tie - with matching socks!

Ray doing a video interview in Hussars tie – with matching socks!

Ray’s wartime service with the 11th Hussars included being blown out of a tank when all the rest of his crew were killed. He served in the desert, in Italy and North West Europe, when he developed a lifelong friendship with a Dutch family he helped to rescue. They wrote to say that on a visit late in 2013, Ray told them how much he loved his “Garden of Eden” at the cricket club.

Surprise presentation to Ray of a plaque to mark his "Garden of Eden" - September 2013

Surprise presentation to Ray of a plaque to mark his “Garden of Eden” – September 2013

After the war he enjoyed a move to the United States, but returned home to support his family. He began his successful career in the grain industry in the North of England, which continued, even after retirement, as a consultant.

Ray’s wit, wisdom and constant drive and determination could fill a whole book. Snippets include:

  • “Never put off to tomorrow what you could put off indefinitely”
  • In 2013 he took up the internet with gusto, even using an e-signature
  • After his diagnosis, he said that one word summed up how he felt: “Happy”.

    Ray’s preparation and philosophical approach was inspirational to us all. He said that after his wartime experience, every day was a bonus. Close friend Nick, pictured below, recalls that Remembrance Day was marked every year, when he wore his medals and remembered with great sadness the men he had lost. Ray had shared with him the lessons he learned from his father, a butcher – in the Depression, he provided “tic” and even if it took several years, no-one failed to repay; his trust was rewarded when times improved.

    Ray with friend Nick at his 90th birthday lunch

    Ray with friend Nick at his 90th birthday lunch

    His 2009 broadcast with Radio Tyneside of his “Desert Island Discs” included a favourite track – “My Way”. This interview was recorded by Dave Nicholson at the cricket club’s Jesmond Festival Open Day – we’ll see if we can add his reminiscences here – watch this space.

    Radio Tyneside broadcasts Ray's "Desert Island Discs" at our 2008 Jesmond Festival Open Day

    Radio Tyneside broadcasts Ray’s “Desert Island Discs” at our 2009 Jesmond Festival Open Day

    Friends were pleased to hear at the funeral that a home had been found for the devoted Lottie, the four-legged “Heinz 57 terrier” friend who was with Ray to the end. Many thanks to Nick for this.

    Thanks too to the wonderful team from The Cherry Tree who not only gave Ray much pleasure with their company and hospitality but who were also (with the Rummage team across Osborne Road) alert enough to ensure speedy treatment when Ray had a stroke weeks before his 90th birthday. Just three weeks later he delivered a bravura performance at his lunchtime celebration, with a memorable word perfect speech without notes.

    90 years young - a special celebration and a remarkable speech

    90 years young – a special celebration and a remarkable speech

    Ray's friends gather to ambush him with the surprise plaque presentation

    Ray’s friends gather to ambush him with the surprise plaque presentation

    Ray adopts local head gear to cope with the heat when serving in North Africa in WW II

    Ray adopts local head gear to cope with the heat when serving in North Africa in WW II

    If you would like to include memories or pictures, please send to secretary@newcastlecc.co.uk .

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  • W.B. Yeats: “The Municipal Gallery Re-Visited”