Donate in memory of
RayMind - The Mental Health Charity
- St. Giles Church Park Lane Ashtead KT21 1EJ
- 15th Mar 2018
- Funeral Director
- Alan Greenwood & Sons Ashtead
- Randalls Park CrematoriumRandalls RoadLeatherheadKT22 0AG
- 15th Mar 2018
In loving memory of Raymond Prichard who sadly passed away on 7th February 2018
Ray Prichard lived for 97 colourful years, affectionately known as ‘Gaggy’ or ‘Pop’. He was born in London but grew up as an ‘Essex boy’, as the whole family moved to Thundersley. He was only young when his mother was ill with breast cancer, his Aunt Polly and Uncle Wal cared for him during this difficult time. Ray became close to his cousins Eddie and Ken; he has passed on stories of horse carts and dirty sailor suits, simple holidays in tents where Cousin Rene threw water over him and long bike rides from Essex to Dorset.
As a family the Congregational Church, Boys Brigade and Bible study were very important growing up. Later in his life in the POW camp Ray’s most treasured possession was his New Testament which he always carried in his pocket, he read it from cover to cover. It was still the comfort by his bedside, read every night when he lost his dear wife and later his daughter Heather. In hospital in his last few days the chaplain prayed with him and read from this book.
At 20 years of age, Ray joined the RAF police and soon after volunteered as a Lancaster mid-upper gunner in Bomber Command, overall he flew 20 operations. The bravery of these young men should never be forgotten.
It wasn’t until later years that he talked about what it was like on those flights, being caught in search lights, under fire, the plane jumping around, how close they came to being blown up, creeping home over Germany at 500 feet, and running low on fuel. He also tried to explain what it was like to leave on a mission knowing that over half the planes wouldn’t come back. Eventually his own plane added to that number, shot down in1943. The night of his first (and last) parachute jump! He spent the rest of the war as a POW in Stalag IVB. He would always say things weren’t too bad, grateful for what he did receive from the Red Cross, but life was hard – freezing cold showers, no coal for the stove, bed bugs and mouldy potatoes to eat.
Ray’s respect for the Lancaster continued through the years. He was excited at the sight of one flying over at the Southend Air Show and again at Dunsfold. Robert felt privileged to take him to the RAF museum at Hendon, to see a Lancaster once more at close hand. He recounted his wartime anecdotes to many enthusiastic listeners – Kira and her learning group, Scott from Church, Val’s friend Don, Andrew’s music professor Matthew King, Ray Blanks the builder and many more.
After the war his career in public health lasted more than 40 years and took him all around the English countryside to places such as Chelmsford, Biggleswade, Norfolk, Grays and finally Hampshire. He hated wearing a suit and used to wear sports jackets to work, with his shirt sleeves rolled up. His children can remember when their hard working dad had to return to work in the evening and would often go with him to the slaughter house, and spend time watching the carcasses! But he was always great carving the Sunday roast and plucking the turkey for Christmas. As a consequence of his work the family were never allowed to eat fish and chips from newspaper – he knew where they had been! Nor to eat cakes from the WI.
The most important person in his life was his beloved wife Jackie, they were childhood sweethearts. Ray’s future mother-in-law bought the newsagent's shop opposite his office. As Junior Clerk, he had to go across to the shop for 2d. bars of chocolate for the three members of staff. He also used to go in the shop for spearmint on his way to night school, and occasionally his future wife Jackie used to serve him – aged just 14. They became in engaged during the war and were married in 1946.
Ray and Jackie dearly wanted to start a family when they first got married. After seeking medical advice and a lot of heartache nothing happened. They decided the only way was to adopt a baby, and went through the Church-of-England Children's Society. From 3 babies they chose Heather. Heather always knew she was adopted, but also knew she was special, because she was chosen. 4 years later and shortly after a move to Norfolk, Jackie not knowing she was even pregnant lost their baby boy. About four months later Jackie became pregnant again, and after a pregnancy haunted with fears and illness, a perfect little baby, Valerie was born. Their family was completed when Teresa was born in Hampshire and it was there they finally settled.
Heather flew the nest to become a teacher and married Ray. Val flew the nest to become a Norlands nanny and married Steve. Sadly in 1979 Steve suffered a severe motorbike accident and after several years he passed away. Val’s children, Chris and Kate, were only three years and six months old, Ray and Jackie did not hesitate to welcome the young family in to their home and help give them a warm, loving and stable childhood. The family again was on the move to bring them closer to Heather and Teresa, this time Epsom in leafy Surrey.
Jackie and Ray were well known at the school gate, on the playing fields, at the pool side and concerts. It is a little known secret that for several years Father Christmas at the school fair looked a lot like Ray Prichard.
Teresa married Mark and their young family, Robert, James and Andrew were just down the road - a daily presence in their lives too. Ray and Jackie adored their ever-growing family. Every year they all holidayed together – 10 of them. Birthdays and anniversaries were filled with silly games and songs, dancing and dressing up, everyone joining in. Both households moved to Ashtead, Ray’s final move.
Finally Chris and Kate flew the nest and this was the time when Jackie and Ray were able to lead a slightly quieter life – they were particularly fond of visiting Polesden Lacey. Chris married his school sweetheart Sam in 2002, and Kate married her childhood sweetheart Jason in 2007. Ray and Jackie were thrilled when three great grandchildren Kira, Layla and Jessica arrived.
Sadly Jackie passed away in 2012 – 66 years married and never going to sleep on an argument - good advice Ray gave to Robert before his wedding.
Ray was devastated when just over a year later Heather was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. He visited her every day in Intensive Care in Tunbridge Wells for nearly four months whilst she underwent major surgery, never complaining about the severe pain in his hip. Heather bravely fought on to attend Robert’s wedding to Caroline in September, but finally lost her battle in November 2014.
By Christmas Ray was in hospital himself for brain surgery but with his usual cheeriness he was soon aching to be home again. His final years were filled with love and laughter.
He loved music and had wonderful boyhood memories of playing music with his family and cousins. He loved to listen to his mother singing ‘Danny Boy’ and his father on piano. Andre Rieu filled his heart with joy. He was a keen audience for Layla and Jessica’s little song and dance shows. He regularly listened to Radio 2 and Terry Wogan. He always whistled, everywhere. In his late 70s, he took piano lessons and played duet with his grandson Andrew in a Christmas concert. He was forever tapping his toes and loved to dance. Kate has a special memory of dancing with her grandfather at her wedding.
Ray always loved sport – he played tennis with his three girls, played snooker with his friend Gordon (in the barn, with a shandy, ignoring Gordon’s colourful language!) and all the family used to watch the FA cup together every year. He used to row his family of girls bravely down the river at Pangbourne every summer holiday. Always young at heart he played cricket, rounders, darts and snooker with his grand-children, and was often seen caddying for Jamie on the golf course. He was still excellent at playing catch with his great granddaughters using a pink floppy bunny.
Ray disliked gardening although his own father was an expert, particularly in fuchsias and chrysanthemums, even so every year he went to buy bedding plants and he had a glut of cucumbers in his greenhouse. He loved his visits to Wisley and sharing it with family and friends.
He had always been a handyman – decorating, mending taps, fixing the electrics. He made fitted wardrobes, coffee tables and toy boxes, safety gates for the stairs and furniture for our dollies. For the grandchildren, he made a beautiful wooden dolls’ house, farmyard and wooden board for the train sets, not to mention a puppet theatre. Chris was always his little helper and he was proud to see how Chris embraced the DIY role.
He loved biscuits and bread, late one evening Jackie dared him to eat a whole loaf in one go and of course he did! He never said no to a cup of tea (2 sugars please). His favourites were doughnuts covered in sugar and leaking jam, eclairs oozing cream and the flakiest croissants, not to mention a love of cream teas.
Ray’s faith has always been important to him, attending the 10 o’clock service at St Giles. He joined Horizon, finding some special friends, as well as enjoying monthly Evergreen meetings and a bible study group.
Over the last eighteen months he has increased his social circle too, embracing Val’s sociable group, joining meals, theatre outings and weekends away. Last October he was on the dance floor in his wheelchair, as well as learning to play the ukulele.
Throughout his life family was so important. Family get togethers, visits to all his extended family, parties and holidays. He was always ready to dress up and join in. His Mexican bandit and Boxer outfits are legendary, as well as the pirate and 60’s hippy. He also loved his Christmas jumpers.
He was amazing at maths puzzles and loved reading, but his writing was illegible. He loved watching his Western and War films, murder mysteries and quiz shows. Ray was a whiz on the computer, mastering Word and Publisher, creating calendars, labels and writing his own memoires …………and he has always fallen asleep in his chair.
“Every time he would see one of us he would react like we had made his week or month and he was so happy to see us”. His face would light up to see his little great-grandchildren. He always said how lucky he felt and how grateful he was. We always felt every moment with him was special. He loved his family and friends and we all knew it.
He was funny and always laughing, wiggling his bushy eyebrows. He had a broad smile where ever he went - melting hearts. He brought sunshine to everyone who knew him.
Unique to Ray's memory, a beautifully printed A4 hardback memorial bookFind out more