Friends and neighbours of Ray Atkins, a long serving former New Mills councillor, were shocked at his unexpected collapse and death.
Until May of last year Ray served the people of New Mills for twenty years as a High Peak Borough Councillor, and as a New Mills Town Councillor for years before that.
He, and his wife, Beth, who also served as County Councillor for the New Mills Division, earned the affection and respect of local residents for their work for the community, and for their support from the many who sought their help.
Ray was brought up in Marple, and took a Maths degree at Manchester University, where he became much involved with the Young Liberals. After graduating he began work for a PhD, but was enticed away by an important by-election locally, and ended up in hospital with a broken ankle for his troubles.
From that time Ray committed himself almost entirely to political work, in various key locations. Fifty years ago he was Agent in Berwick-on-Tweed, where the Liberal Party made a famous by-election victory against all the odds
He returned to his home area and over many years became very influential in the growth of Liberal support in Stockport and other constituencies in the area. Later he continued to work for the Liberal Democrats. He believed strongly that a fairer and more neighbourly society was achievable.
Having married Beth he settled in High Peak, and decided for the first time to stand for election himself, and paid a big part in the growth of Liberal Democrat support locally.