TRIBUTES have been paid to former Devizes Mayor and stalwart of the town’s rugby club Ray Taylor who died on January 9 aged 82.

Mr Taylor, who died after a long illness with his wife Margaret by his side, grew up in Stocksfield, near Newcastle upon Tyne.

But after moving to the Devizes area after taking up a teaching post at Dauntsey’s School in 1964 he threw himself into the sporting life of the town and soon became captain of the town’s rugby club.

He was also a keen cricketer and used his skills to hone the next generation of sporting hopefuls at Dauntsey’s alongside his job as a geography master.

A born and bred Labour party man he moved to become a teacher at George Ward comprehensive in Melksham where he stayed for 22 years.

After early retirement he and Margaret threw themselves into civic life and he served on both Devizes Town Council and the old Kennet District Council.

He was Mayor in 1997/1998 and enjoyed the opportunity to meet many different people. His wife said: “Ray always wanted to help people. He believed in a fair deal for everyone. He would offer practical help and was also keen on supporting the homeless.

“He loved being Mayor and enjoyed the sociable side of it very much.” He was also a stalwart of the town’s twinning association and loved to travel.

He leaves three sons Adrian, 55, Graham, 54, and Jonathan, 52 and two grandchildren.

Adrian said: “Dad was totally reliable and supportive. He was never critical and was keen to allow his sons to become their own men.”

A spokesman for Devizes Rugby Club said: “We are extremely sad to announce the passing of club legend Ray Taylor.

“A rugby man through and through Ray made huge contributions on and off the field in the development of the game.

“Ray captained Devizes during the 1966-1968 and 1970-1971 seasons, he was chairman between 1991 and 1997, president between 1990 and 1992 and received the Clubman award in 1976.

“He achieved the unique honour of being the first member of the club to have held all three major positions.

“It comes as no surprise that Ray wore the number ten shirt during both the famous cup wins of 1971 and 1973 and also at the historic game against Gloucester in 1973.

“Without doubt Ray’s leadership on the field of play and commitment to Devizes RFC will never be forgotten. Ray we salute you.” and thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given us.”

Mr Taylor studied geography at Durham University where he met his future wife Margaret and the pair travelled south when he became a teacher at Tiffin School in Kingston, Surrey.

A service of thanksgiving for Ray’s life will be held at St John’s Church, Devizes on January 30 at 2.30pm. A collection will be made for Alzheimer’s Support and PHAB. Black clothes are not necessary.