Ray Pluck – Died 25th October 2015

A memorial service for the life of Ray Pluck was held at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford on 25th November 2015, a private cremation having taken place immediately beforehand. The service was conducted by Revd. Matthew Lawson, the organist was Ian McMillan and the solo Pie Jesu from the Faure Requiem was sung by John McCabe. Ray died at his home in Foxearth on 25th October at the age of 83.

In the first of two eulogies Peter Thorogood described Ray as a typical fun-loving Essex boy made good. From his early years Ray was a lively prankster; an adventurous spirit who loved motor cycling from which developed a life long interest in cars. Another passion in a very active life was a venture into greyhound racing. Peter reflected upon many lengthy, enjoyable, bucolic lunches in Ray’s company. When National Service beckoned Ray served in the Paras being posted to Korea and staying for an extra year to explore what he saw as possible commercial opportunities! Alas this didn’t really work out and Ray returned in 1953 absolutely broke -but a somewhat head strong lad had turned into a man of the world determined to be a success.

An address written by Ray’s widow, Pam , was read by Lyn Heyhow. This painted a very loving and  affectionate picture of a man of enormously varied interests and achievements. Ray became a baker once icing over 200 Christmas cakes when the master baker was taken ill. Then, with a churn and a bike he tried his hand as a milkman – but that didn’t last. Having an uncle  who was a Chief Police Inspector Ray applied to join the force so that he could drive a Panda car! However the realisation that a possibly less exciting stint of a year on the beat would be necessary first caused him to abandon this idea. His love of cars eventually took him into the motor trade where he rose to become salesman of the year for Renault winning a Renault Dauphine. Still keen to be his own boss he cleaned cars for a time for Bernie Ecclestone eventually acquiring his own dealership which he was very good at and loved.. The early1960s saw a return to Braintree where he bought  Braintree Motor Co; his reputation as an honourable dealer grew. Still with energy to spare he entered into a partnership in running The Barn in Braintree – the cabaret venue of its day – where he met and befriended many stars and singers.! In 1969 he bought The White Hart in Coggeshall – a huge gamble in view of its run-down state. Ray met this challenge by displaying amazing building ideas sketched on the back of cigar (he had long abandoned cigarettes!) packets. In 1972, when the hotel opened, Pam came on the scene as a vacation trainee and after a “baptism of fire” the college student fell in love with and married this “charismatic and volatile character”. In the years until the hotel was sold in 1988 Ray’s management of the place was legendary. he didn’t take prisoners but was the essence of kindness and generosity to his friends and never a gossip! But years of being mine host began to affect his health and in retirement he and Pam enthusiastically set about restoring their new home – Foxearth Hall. This included the conversion of the large barn as a wedding reception/social venue.

In an almost full church this service was an occasion which exuded warmth for a larger than life character who will be remembered for the impression he made on so many people. In a poem read at the service was the line “The true measure of a man is the legacy he leaves”; In Ray’s case his legacy is an enduring memory of a truly remarkable life lived to the full and of many individual and lasting friendships.


Ken Nice

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