Ray Holyer awarded prestigious RN award

Oct 17, 2023

United Kingdom Armed Forces Association of Cricket Officials was delighted to receive the news that life member Captain (Rtd) Ray Holyer RN was presented with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Royal Navy Sport award at the recent RN Sports Awards event.

The award was nothing more than Ray deserved across some 50 years of service, firstly as a player and then quickly into offiiciating – both umpiring and scoring – a role that he continues to perform superbly to this day.

His citation for the award read as follows:

Ray joined the Royal Navy as a Junior Probationary Medical Technician (JPMT) in December 1969 for Physiotherapy Training and progressed through the rating structure before being promoted to the Officer Cadre in 1985, finally leaving the RN in 2007 in the rank of Captain.

Although playing cricket before joining up as a useful spin bowler and middle order batsman, Ray just couldn’t adapt to adult cricket and after a few matches umpiring instead was encouraged to undertake Cricket Umpire Training.  In March 1971, he successfully undertook the Cricket Umpires Course run by the RNCU&SA at HMS Temeraire.  During the summer of 1971, Ray umpired at many RN establishment and US Portsmouth cricket matches, culminating in a late season RN U25 Fixture – and so the umpiring career of Ray Holyer commenced.

Being so relatively young for a Cricket umpire added extra pressure on Ray but he carried out his duties with aplomb and quickly established himself as a fair but firm and confident umpire and was rewarded with his first full RN Fixture in the summer of 1972.

Ray passed his Oral Umpire Examination in 1973 and became a Full member of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers (ACU&S) in August 1975.  By that time Ray was umpiring many Full and U25 RN Fixtures and in 1976 umpired his 1st Combined Service Match from whence he went on to umpire many more including against Full Test member countries when they played the Combined Services.

Since then Ray has umpired at a plethora of US Portsmouth, RNCC/CA, RN U25, Full RN and CS cricket matches as well as 31 Inter-Service matches.  As an umpire and physiotherapist Ray was selected to travel on five Combined Services Tours abroad and a further five RN Tours abroad.

Not content with just umpiring, Ray was the resident physiotherapist to Hampshire County Cricket Club between 1977 and 1985 and became an Umpire Tutor in 1980 and a fully qualified scorer in 1981.  As a result of these additional skills Ray tutored on virtually every Annual RNCU&SA Umpires Course from 1980 until 2009 as well as the separate RNCU&SA scorer’s course.

Shortly after promotion to Officer in 1985 Ray became Chairman of the RNCU&SA (and every 3 years as Chairman of the CSACU&S) before finally relinquishing the position in 2003. 

In 1999 Ray became a Cricket Consultant (although still in the RN) for the International Cricket Council (ICC), firstly as an umpire, then as a Tutor and finally as a match Referee.  This meant Ray literally travelled the world (although mainly in Europe) running Umpire and Scorer Courses, assessing umpires and running International Cricket Tournaments for all the Associate ICC Countries.  Ray finished this role in 2018.  The experience with ICC enabled Ray to set up umpiring panels for the Combined Services (now UKAF) and to Match Referee all the Inter Service Cricket Matches from 2005 until 2017 when he passed the responsibility on to those he had trained.

Unfortunately, the Covid epidemic and personal illness prevented Ray’s full participation throughout 2019 until 2021 but for the 2023 season, although realising his Umpiring days were at an end, he has returned to scoring and supported RN, other Services and UKAF matches throughout the season.

After over 50 years Ray is a truly deserving recipient of recognition for his outstanding service to RN and UKAF Cricket.

UKAF ACO echo those sentiments and we offer our sincerest congratulations to Ray for his outstanding service to the Royal Navy and to Combined Services and UKAF subsequently.

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