Cricket and rugby clubs pay tribute to tireless worker Ray Batten

Ray Batten (right) at a Torquay CC function with rugby club president Alan Forsyth
Ray Batten (right) at a Torquay CC function with rugby club president Alan Forsyth

TORQUAY’S cricket and rugby clubs have been mourning the death of lifelong supporter Ray Batten.

Ray, who had died aged 93, was introduced to rugby and cricket as a spectator by his father in the late 1920s. He watched his first rugby match at the Recreation Ground in 1930.

It was the start of Ray’s love affair with both sports that developed as a player and continued as a volunteer worker for both clubs for nine decades.

Ray Batten (back, right) in a rugby team photo from the 1947-48 seasonHe wrote detailed histories of both clubs, painstakingly researched digging through old minute books and records held in Torquay Library.

Chris Edwards, the chairman of Torquay Athletic and a former Devon cricketer and Torquay CC skipper, said: “Some people sit back, moan about something not being done and do nothing about it – not Ray.

“If a job needed doing he would get stuck in and do it.

“He was a man of forthright views on almost every subject under the sun, but there was no malice in him at all.

“We haven’t seen much of him for the last two or three years, but making him a life member in 2004 recognised just how much he had done for many years.”

Ken Jeffery, a long-time committeeman and voluntary worker on the other side of the Recreation Ground for Torquay CC, said Ray’s contribution to the club had been vast.

“He wasn’t one to sit by idly when there was a job to do,” said Jeffrey.

“When we ran into difficulties getting our match-day teas organised, which must have been 20 or more years ago, Ray got together with John Pelosi and Bert Schneider to sort the problem out.

“The three of them were our ‘tea ladies’ for years until we found a caterer.”

Jeffrey said Ray could be outspoken at times, and sometimes forgot his booming voice carried across the ground.

“You could be on one side of the ground watching the game and from the other you would hear Ray shouting out ‘get that bowler off’ or something similar,” said Jeffrey.

Raymond Conrad Batten was born in Torquay and attended Homelands Technical High School.

The Batten family were well known in Torquay as the owners of a butchers shop in Fore Street, Barton.

In the years immediately after the war Ray played rugby for the Torquay Athletic A XV, which was managed by Bill Janes, and played home games at Watcombe.

After National Service in the Army – he served in Palestine and later Aden – Ray went into the engineering industry.

He left Torquay in the 1950s, initially for London and later Manchester. Rugby playing days were over now, but Ray remained involved as a referee.

Ray, by now married to Dawn, kept in touch with the two clubs on regular trips home to see his family. Sadly, his wife died before the couple were able to retire to Devon. They had no children.

Ray returned to Torquay in 1984 and quickly became a permanent fixture in and around the rugby and cricket clubs. He was also a life vice-president of Cockington CC.

All the clubs Ray Batten was involved in are likely to be well represented at Ray’s funeral, which will be St Matthew’s Church, Chelston on Friday, November 17 at 11.30am.