Memorial bench unveiled in honour of naval hero Ray

PUBLISHED: 17:18 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:47 19 March 2014

Ray Self's family gather around his memorial bench outside St Peter Mancroft church in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Ray Self's family gather around his memorial bench outside St Peter Mancroft church in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

A memorial bench commemorating the life of a local naval war hero has been unveiled today in a touching service outside St Peter Mancroft’s Church, Norwich.

Ray Self Ray Self

Raymond Self, known best as ‘Ray’, served as a naval serviceman during the Second World War in Far East countries such as Burma and Singapore and was also involved in the Normandy landings.

On his retirement, he was a key figure in a 20-year campaign to get the Norwich War Memorial turned around to face City Hall. He died in August of last year.

In front of a crowd of about 40 people, made up mainly of family and Royal Navy associates, brother Cliff Self paid tribute to his elder sibling in a poignant yet light-hearted speech.

He talked of Ray Self’s upbringing and his move to Norwich at the age of 12, going on to describe his time as a naval serviceman and his campaigning in later life.

Thanks were given to the Royal Naval Association who funded and pushed through plans for the bench in December. Towards the end of the speech the crowd gathered in a prayer for Ray Self, before Cliff Self blessed the seat. Afterwards attendants stayed on to share memories of Ray Self’s life.

Keith Smith, honorary secretary of the Royal Naval Association, said: “It is a fitting tribute not only to Ray, but to all the people who worked tirelessly alongside him over the years. What Ray achieved in the city and with the association was outstanding.’’

Wife Rhoda sat for pictures with her three sons on the bench as navy veterans held up a Royal Navy Association flag.

Eldest son, David, said: “You are always proud of your father, so to see him remembered like this is a fantastic moment.”

Middle son, Deryck, added: “It means a lot to know how highly the Royal Naval Association and the council thought of dad, for them to think him deserving of this seat and to have paid for it is brilliant”.

The plaque on the bench reads: ‘‘In memory of Ray Self, able seaman Royal Navy, served his city and country 1926 – 2013.’’

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