I have just heard about the passing of local legend Ray Davy, aged 88, and feel sad because, like many, he was someone who I looked upon as a friend and a good person with a kind heart.
He was loved by many and it was my privilege to have got to know him these past few years. There is so much about his early life, including struggles I can only guess at, I don’t know about, and I look forward to seeing tributes that will fill in some of the gaps. As for me, I can only speak about the man I got to know in his later life.
Back in the early 2000’s I was involved in setting up Southend Community-in-Harmony and that was when I got to meet Ray. It quickly became evident that he was an approachable doer with huge experience and wide networks. He was a man I went to for advice and invariably he delivered. He was not just about talk. On the day we ran our big open air diversity events Ray could be invariably relied upon to be there at the start to organize stewarding. There were few jobs he was not prepared to lend a hand to when helping.
My memories of Ray is that he was a character with a dry sense of humour, a person with the common touch that had time for people, one who lived to serve his community and someone you can rely on to get the job done. He had many strings to his bow: when I met him he was also a local councilor; I believe he played a key role in the local carnival; his name often cropped up in connection with other local charities; he had chaired the local branch of the Council of Christians and Jews. But he was best known for his long association with Southend United Football Club, who no doubt will pay their own tributes. His involvement was monumental, as he uniquely was able to earn the respect of all involved in the club, and especially the supporters. I recall a number of times visiting the ground for games and on market days and seeing Ray directing stewarding with his no-nonsense approach that was combined with the common touch.
I would best sum up Ray as a willing doer, a humble man, a man of the people, a decent sort, his own man, a true gentleman who had style. He was an ardent Conservative and yet cared much for his community. He will be much missed by many in the town. My commiserations go to his family. I learned after meeting him that his sister lived just up the road to me, where I grew up, and his nephew was a school chum I hanged out with. Rest in Peace Ray. Thank you for all you did for people in our town and making it a better place.
Update 20/02/18: I have just returned from attending Ray’s funeral service at St. Mary’s church, Prittlewell. There was a good turn out from representatives of all sections of the community, including civic leaders and representatives of other faiths as well as family members. It was a dignified occasion and an apt send off indicating the high regard in which Ray was regarded. As often as happens, it was a time to meet up with old friends, including Ray’s sister and nephew, who I haven’t seen for over fifty years.