Colleagues past and present, together with Ray’s family, gathered to mark the occasion at a party at The Woodlands Hotel in Spalding.
There he was presented with a commemorative mock-up front page of tributes (below) and a host of farewell gifts, including a set of bowls and a bag and full watercolour painting set from Welland Valley Newspapers, the papers’ parent company, and a camera rucksack and DIY vouchers from his colleagues.
Ray, (65), joined the papers as a sports reporter in July 1969 and became sports editor in September 1976.
Editor Alan Salt said: “He’s been a true professional and a very loyal colleague.
“He has played a key role in the continued success of both titles which has seen circulations grow to a record level.
“You only have to go to a sporting gathering with Ray and he knows everyone and they all seem to know him as well.”
A string of former work colleagues also paid tribute to Ray.
Tonie Gibson, the editor who brought him to the papers, said: “With Ray’s unrivalled knowledge of the local sports world and players, I felt he could make a superb contribution to the sports pages.
“He was an accomplished sportsman and because of that and because he lived and worked in the community, he knew what he was writing about.”
Another former editor, Clive Brown, said: “Ray was everything a community-minded newspaper’s sports editor should be.
“He was thorough, accurate and fair, always knowledgeable and always interested.”
The new sports editor is former deputy news editor Nigel Chapman, who had deputised for Ray for five years.
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