Farewell to devoted businessman who lost tumour battle

Ray Johnson
Ray Johnson

A well-respected and devoted Alnwick businessman has died after a two-year battle with a brain tumour.

Ray Johnson, 65, a renowned retailer in the town, passed away on Monday.

Working in the same shop for 50 years, Ray was first employed by Hepworth’s before the company changed to Next and closed its Bondgate Within store.

But he took it over, creating Ray’s Menswear, which he ran for the last 28 years.

And while the shop was one of the loves of his life, horse racing was another and he was a regular visitor to courses in Musselburgh, York and elsewhere.

His partner of 44 years, Ken Lawrie, who lived with Ray at North Sunderland, said: “Ray was 100 per cent reliable; when he made a decision he never wavered from it.

“He knew what he was doing in life, but he never compromised. If he couldn’t have what he wanted, he wouldn’t take second best.

“We have lived a really good life together. We have been in a position to do what we wanted to do. We’ve had terrific holidays, stayed in nice hotels and had a really good time.”

Ray was diagnosed with a tumour in April 2012. For 18 months he was able to work and live as normal. But most recently he was housebound.

Ken added: “I don’t know if I could have faced what he faced in the same light. He was really, really brave. He just accepted it and lived with it.”

Coun Gordon Castle also paid tribute to Ray describing him as ‘one of the best salesmen in the country’.

A funeral for Ray is likely to take place on Saturday at 11am at St Paul’s Church, North Sunderland, followed by a private interment.