Our community lost one its great figures last week. Ray Bromley joined the Royal British Legion in 1948 having served in the Navy clearing mines in the aftermath of World War II, and for the last thirty years ran the Remembrance Day events in Portslade.
I met Ray two years before becoming an MP and was capivated by his passion for veterans, for sport, for our community, and by his sheer unstinting decency. Many people will remember him from his youth football coaching days.
Despite all of his service, and the stories he felt duty-bound to tell on behalf of the veterans no long here with us, he always did so with a lightness of touch. He was huge fun to be around.
Ray had an amazing family who I've been very privileged to meet many times. His wife Audrey has an incredible energy and spark and when they were together there was always laughter and warmth. I visited their home many times and I took senior politicians there because I wanted as many people as possible to learn from Ray's wisdom.
Ray's funeral was held today and there will be many, many people across our city feeling the loss. None more so that Audrey because their marriage was something quite remarkable. I once took the shadow defence minister to their home and after the meeting I asked if I could take a photo with Ray on his doorstep. As we were walking out I heard Ray say to his wife 'I don't have my jacket on, I feel scruffy', to which Audrey whispered back 'you're as gorgeous as the day I met you, now give me a kiss and go and have your photo taken'. It was a window into their kind, loving, and dutiful home that has stayed with me ever since.
Ray was 88 and inspiring people right until the end. I, with all my heart, join many others in sending my love and thanks to his family for sharing him with us for so many years. I've posted a photo of me with Ray on a past Remembrance Day, with his great friend George in the middle. In two weeks time as I march on Remembrance Day again, it is Ray who will be at the very forefront of my thoughts. All the best, Peter