Skip to main content Logo search icon

Hope Cove loses beloved harbourmaster

SA Updated
Hope Cove loses beloved harbourmaster

Hope Cove is flying its flag at half mast to mourn the loss of beloved harbourmaster Ray Staff.


Ray, 79, was spending time with his daughter over the weekend when he suddenly collapsed, suffering a massive heart attack. Despite the best efforts of the air ambulance and medical teams, he passed away.

Ray moved down to Hope Cove more than 34 years ago, after taking early retirement. Not one to relax too much, he took on the harbourmaster position when it came up and filled the role for 28 years. As well as being the harbourmaster, he was a former member of the coastguard crew and a trustee of Hope Cove Lifeboat.

Embodying the “heart and soul of the village” according to long-term friend, fishing partner and coastguard teammate Dave Clarke, Ray was always a mainstay in local activities and was very involved in Hope Cove Weekend. In fact one of Dave’s favourite memories of Ray is the effort he always put into dressing up for the Hope Cove Weekend fancy dress parade.

“He was very much one of the lads”, said Dave, “He always had the most outrageous costumes for the fancy dress parade and he always had a big group of friends.

“He was a great harbourmaster too. He had a fantastic memory for people’s names and where and when he met them, which always made people feel so welcome. He was fair, making sure people knew and abided by the rules and regulations, telling people off if they did something wrong, but he always looked after people, especially the kids.”

Dave, who is also the chair of the harbour commissioners, added: “It’s not a bad job, taking dues from people while sitting in the sun (working on his deep suntan, something a lot of people will remember him for!) but he always did the job properly.

“He loved kids and was always there for them if they cut their finger or stubbed their toe. He always kept an eye on them when they were down at the water and people loved him for it. He was part of the village and would help anyone with anything.

“I’ve had so many phone calls from all over the place to pass on their condolences, I even had a call from the family of regular visitors from France. His death was very unexpected as he showed no sign of ill health so it has taken us all by surprise.

“He will genuinely be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

A message announcing his death on the Hope Cove Facebook page attracted hundreds of messages of love and condolence from across the village, South Hams and further afield. 

Ray’s wife Carol is currently being looked after in Plymouth after a diagnosis of severe dementia a few years ago.

A funeral service to honour Ray will be held in the South Hams in the near future.

User comments

Sorry for your and your familie’s loss G
Report this comment Comments (0) | Was this comment helpful? 0 0
An amazing man, one of my mums best friends always looking out for each other especially in lock down. The picture in this story is the picture I took on his 79th birthday in June. He's going to be so missed my many. Xx
Report this comment Comments (0) | Was this comment helpful? 0 0

You might also be interested in

Totnes students complete Ten Tors Challenge
Category: General News
Students from King Edward VI Community College in Totnes, part of Education South West, completed the Ten Tors challenge this weekend. ...
Police are asking children to choose the official name of the new police tractor
Category: General News
The Rural Affairs team at Devon and Cornwall Police are asking children to choose the official name of the newest addition to the rural...
South West Water issues 'boil water notice' after Cryptosporidium has been found in the South Hams
Category: General News
Cryptosporidium has been found in water Kingswear and Galmpton, as well as the wider Brixham area. 
Yealmpton's Devon Air Ambulance Community Landing Site is now operational
Category: General News
Devon Air Ambulance's Community Landing Sites Team are starting Spring 2024 with a flourish and growing their network of night landing sites with a...
Work at Salcombe Hangar Marsh is completed, with the site reopening this month
Category: General News
Work to enhance Salcombe’s Hangar Marsh nature reserve has been completed, with part of the site reopening to the public this month. ...
SHDC says it is "improving the energy efficiency of homes across the South Hams"
Category: General News
South Hams District Council says it is "helping residents to improve the energy efficiency their homes", one its "top priorities".