Tributes to 'backbone' of New Forest Cricket Club Association, Ray Mortimer
RAY Mortimer, described as the “backbone of the New Forest Cricket Club Association”, has died aged 84.
Ray did an enormous amount of work behind the scenes for local cricket – helping to amalgamate the New Forest Cricket Club Association (NFCCA) into the Hampshire Cricket League, and he spent spells as NFCCA chair, secretary, competition secretary and fixture secretary.
He was elected as president in 2018 when he retired from its committee, which was a role he continued until his passing.
NFCCA secretary Alan Sturgess added: “Ray was the backbone of the NFCCA for many years.
The association could have folded once the New Forest leagues were amalgamated into the Hampshire pyramid system without his energy and enthusiasm.
“He was passionate about local cricket and cricket being played on the Forest grounds.”
Ray was a mainstay for Woodgreen Cricket Club, having moved to the village in the mid-1980s, twice winning its Tony Angel Clubperson of the Year award and acting as a trustee, umpire and groundsman, having played for the club until he was well past retirement age.
Ray’s most cherished cricketing memory was taking a hat-trick bowling for Woodgreen at the ripe old age of 70.
A cricket fanatic, Ray had been a very capable player in his youth, turning out for top sides in Somerset and North Devon.
He spent his longest spell with Woodgreen and loved the club so much his last request – for his club cap to be carried atop of his coffin – will be honoured at his funeral.
Ray was also well known in the village for his stints on Woodgreen Parish Council and the village’s Neighbourhood Watch group.
Born in Stratford, Ray was evacuated to Swindon during the war aged just three and lived with a family who adopted him when he was 12.
He studied at a grammar school, achieved seven O-levels, and first worked for Great Western Railway.
Ray did his National Service at Lineham, Wiltshire, where he was a meteorologist before working for Pressed Steel as a consultant and as a milkman and window cleaner.
In 1961 he joined the Prudential insurance company, a place where he spent more than three decades working and also met his beloved wife, Lucy.
The pair married in 1964 in a church at Chiseldon, Swindon, and were devoted to each other.
Lucy said: “I have had letters and cards and they all say what a lovely guy Ray was.
“He really just was a nice guy and a great all round sportsman.
“He loved all sports, football, cricket, golf, but especially cricket – that was his life, really.”
The Hampshire Cricket Board said in a statement: “Ray was a great champion of cricket in the New Forest, not just in terms of playing and organising, but also for looking forward to see what might need to be done to secure the future of Forest clubs.
“Many clubs based in small towns and villages had little right of tenure on their grounds and consequently limited opportunity to make improvements or to secure grant aid.
“Ray was tireless in his efforts to bring these problems to light, and point to the need for change.”