On Friday, I was informed that my friend, Ray Ferguson, had passed away peacefully at West Middlesex Hospital. Ray is very well known in Feltham. Phil Andrews has written a very nice and interesting piece about him. None of the content comes as a surprise.
As Phil says, Ray was closest to the Conservative Party of all the national parties and was a member of it in the 80s and early 90s. I first met Ray in early 2001 and one of our first conversations was about my intention to stand in Feltham North at the Local Elections in 2002. He took the view that it would be very difficult for me but he was happy to give advice. More important to Ray than his own beliefs was his passion for the need for opposition and it bothered him that the Borough was pretty much a one party state. One of Ray’s ideals back then would have been to see the back of party politics in Local Government.
Ray was the first person to reassure me about Phil Andrews, who has also gone on to become a good friend. He was clear about two things at the time – (i) the need for opposition in the Borough and more importantly (ii) that Phil no longer held the type of views that would cause me and most people concern.
I remember how pleased Ray was when I pulled off a surprise in 2002, especially as he became a constituent. Ray was always very kind to my wife and I. She is terribly upset that Ray has gone. Only last year, my family attended his 80th birthday party.
A number of older constituents have told me about the times when they worked with or for Ray. All commented on how firm but very fair he was.
Ray and I tended to agree on most things. I was closer to Ray than to Phil on the issue of single group funding for example. But even when Ray and I disagreed, he was always – as Phil points out – unfailingly courteous and polite. I consider this a big loss to me and to the Borough as all areas need people like Ray.
In accordance with Ray’s wishes, there is no funeral.