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Tributes after Cornwall councillor Ray Tovey's death at 65

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

Motorcycling and travelling were among Ray Tovey's passions.

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TRIBUTES from family, friends and colleagues have poured in for a west Cornwall councillor after his death from a brain tumour aged 65.

Ray Tovey, Cornwall councillor for Gwinear-Gwithian and St Erth, died at St Julia's Hospice in Hayle on Saturday morning, nine months after his illness was diagnosed in December.

Mr Tovey, who had to stand down from his Cabinet position as portfolio-holder for localism and devolution earlier this year, was elected to the council in 2009.

He had previously been a long-serving chairman of Gwinear-Gwithian parish council, a Penwith district councillor and a Newlyn harbour commissioner.

His daughter Hannah Eustice said her father bore his illness with courage.

"He was just so brave about the whole thing," she said. "I don't think he complained once. Up until the last two weeks or so he was out every single day in his wheelchair for a walk with mum. He just kept going; he wanted to see us all and he realised the importance of it all."

After his diagnosis Mr Tovey underwent an operation at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and treatment at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

He is survived by his wife Jenny, their daughters, Hannah and Rachel Murray, and grandchildren Jake, 8, Alfie, 6, Flora, 4, and three-year-old Scarlett.

He was born in Hayes in Middlesex and grew up in Somerset, where his family were coal merchants.

He met Jenny at Somerset College of Art in Taunton, and worked in London at the Pemberton Advertising Agency in Baker Street before returning to Somerset as a freelance graphic designer.

The couple moved to Cornwall when Mr Tovey got a job at Falmouth School of Art as a lecturer in graphic design.

He was later promoted to head of graphic design and then seconded to BTEC and Edexcel as a moderator.

Mrs Tovey said: "He took early retirement at 55 and went travelling with me. A lot of it was done on a motorbike and sidecar. He built his own camper van and fitted it out himself. After a number of years travelling he came home and got involved in local government."

Outside work he enjoyed water sports and was a keen motorcyclist.

Mrs Eustice said: "He was one of the first surfers down at Godrevy.

"That was a massive part of his life: surfing, canoeing with friends, and he had a surf ski."

St Erth parish clerk Peter Rylett met him through surfing before they worked together. "I shall really miss working with him, his intellect and great sense of humour, and feel great sadness over the loss of a good friend," he said.

Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson said: "Ray was a first-class councillor and a first-class man. The dignity, courage and positivity with which he faced his terminal illness were the qualities we all associated with Ray in his working life."

The funeral is at Gwinear Church on Tuesday at 11am. All are welcome, and no formal mourning attire is requested. Donations may be made to Cornwall Hospice Care – St Julia's Hospice.

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  • ploppy10  |  September 13 2012, 10:55AM

    Ray Tovey was my lecturer for 4 years at the Pool campus of Falmouth School of Art and Design from 1984 to 1988, where I studied graphic design. With his foundation of teaching and support, I developed a graphic design career. I still work in this field and having returned to Cornwall, I have been lucky enough to continue working in this difficult economic time. I will always remember Ray for his vitality and wanting to get down with the kids, even when it came to surfing and kayaking and driving a funky yellow Citroen 2CV. He always listened and helped whenever possible and had much compassion. We don't always get the lecturers we need at college. Ray was one of those enthusiastic vibrant people who stood out and I will never forget his valued support and inspiration. Thanks Ray for starting me on my career. I will always remember you running into your 2CV in your wet suit chasing your next wave with your kayak hanging out the back. RIP Ray. Sad condolences to your family for their untimely loss.

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