Ray loved his Orienteering. With Sue’s blessing he spent hundreds of hours surveying and producing accurate ‘O’ maps. He liked nothing better than getting lost in the depths of the New Forest with his compass and note pad and a faithful 4 legged companion.
Ray worked at IBM Hursley Park as a development programmer where, in 1965, he started one of the first Orienteering clubs in the UK. He produced black and white maps of nearby Ampfield Wood and set weekly courses for lunchtime adventures.
Within a couple of years, Ray was party to the merging of the neighbouring ‘O’ club, ‘Merry Oak Meanderers’, with IBM ‘O’ club and formed the now familiar ‘Southampton Orienteering Club’.
Ray soon mastered the mapping skills needed to draw complex 5 colour ‘O’ maps using large velum sheets and freehand cartography. He produced a fine map of Acres Down for the 1968 November Classic. He went on to produce and plan on many more important ‘O’ maps especially those used for Classics and British Champs. Ray happily shared his skills by running education sessions for many club members. He became a dedicated OCAD and LIDAR user.
Ray loved to compete at Orienteering events at all levels with considerable success and was always interested in comparing his performances with his contemporaries through the Ranking Lists.
He excelled on complex courses and enjoyed sharing his route choice with colleagues over a pint after the event. Ray was well known for his navigating skills, avoiding stiff contour climbs, spotting good short cuts and using his own pace counting method with 6 double paces per mm on a 1:10,000 map. He particularly enjoyed orienteering in the Forest of Dean and the more complex areas in the Surrey hills.
Unusually, he was a great devotee of night orienteering and would travel long distances to participate in this arcane version of the sport, often accompanied by Robert Jackson who unaccountably shared this passion and put up with sleeping in the back of Ray’s old estate car. And this was in the days before modern battery and lamp technology effectively turned night into day!
Ray was a regular at multi-day ‘O’ events especially in those days when SOC had a large attendance at such events. He was often accompanied by Sue as she was able to visit antique fairs and shops while Ray was orienteering. If travelling alone he was also able to combine these trips with his interest in railways. A Caddihoe Chase in Devon was particularly memorable as he cadged a lift there but caught a complicated variety of trains back to Romsey which cost him an astonishingly small sum.
Ray took a long break (a furlough!) from orienteering in the 80s in order to extend his house and he remained a DiY enthusiast of considerable and varied skills throughout his life. His return to the sport coincided with the growth of midweek Army ‘O’ events and he became an enthusiastic member of our Wednesday gang (likened by some to a Last of the Summer Wine group) which always managed to end up in a pub where Ray was able to exercise his other enthusiasm - for Real Ale, Triple fff Brewery’s Alton Pride at the Railway Arms in Alton being a particular favourite. That’s him with the beard with the rest of the Wednesday gang about 20 years ago.
He was a very active member of the local CAMRA branch, helping out at festivals and was a regular attender at branch meetings. Ray was always reluctant to join the SOC committee but enjoyed CAMRA meetings as these were always accompanied by the drinking of beer. One major contribution was the production of maps and an itinerary for a pub crawl in the vicinity of a beer festival – these were always well received.
Ray died on 5 August 2020 having reached his 80th birthday but sadly never participating as a M80. He leaves his loving wife Sue and his four sons and their families, he will be missed by all who knew him.
David Bonser with contributions from Charlie Richardson and Robert Jackson.