It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Ray Cobbett after a short illness. We shared the same employer and both moved to Havant at the same time, being near neighbours for many of the last forty years. Ray was a tireless supporter of the community in and around Havant, an active campaigner for the local Liberal Democrat Party and a respected County Councillor.
Ray put forward the idea of forming a Civic Society for Havant and was an active member, bringing extensive knowledge of both planning and the natural environment. We would like to pay tribute to Ray particularly for his campaigning and his contribution to improving and safeguarding our local environment.
Ray was born and educated in Wimbledon, South London and became an engineer in the RAF serving in the Middle and Far East in the fifties. He moved to Hampshire in the early sixties joining the IBM Development Laboratory at Hursley, near Winchester. He later transferred to IBM’s Headquarters in Portsmouth, responsible for procurement and supplies management and made Havant his new home in 1978.
A two-year secondment followed to the London Enterprise Agency (Lenta) as a marketing counsellor for new business start-ups that put Ray in the centre of inner-city renewal. After Lenta joined IBM’s European operations in Paris travelling widely throughout Europe and the US promoting offset arrangement between IBM’s worldwide locations and countries whose supply base was viable.
On returning from Paris, Ray took up a position managing procurement throughout the UK. Always an active citizen, Ray joined the Lib Dems and throughout his thirty-year membership was chairman three times, candidate and eventually a Hampshire County Councillor for Havant and Emsworth in the nineties. The community had always been part and parcel of Ray’s life and while living in Havant and eventually later settling down in Emsworth.
Ray had also served on the governing body and boards of schools, Havant Arts Centre, Havant Housing Association and Emsworth Residents’ Association among other organisations. He had also led various campaigns and in 2002 launched Havant Friends of the Earth.
Since retirement Ray devoted most of his time to environmental issues. He had written extensively for newspapers and magazines as well as attending presentations and organising events.
In a fitting tribute to Ray’s former service as Cabinet member for the Environment on Hampshire County Council, the flag at ‘the Castle’ in Winchester was flown at half-mast last week.
We would like to all join in and send our sincere condolences to Ray’s family at this sad time.
My thanks to Ann Buckley and Havant Friends of the Earth for their contributions to this post.
July 20, 2020