Bombings: Family fear dad is dead

By Rebecca SheppardTHE devastated family of a missing father of two young children from Suffolk has said they believe he died in the London bombings.

By Rebecca Sheppard

THE devastated family of a missing father of two young children from Suffolk has said they believe he died in the London bombings.

Richard Gray, 41, was travelling to work from his home in Ipswich on a “normal day” when the terrorist attacks happened - and his family has not heard from him since.

They know his route to work last Thursday would see him take the train from Ipswich station to London Liverpool Street and then onto the tube to his workplace in Pall Mall.

A statement issued on behalf of his family yesterday described Mr Gray as a “wonderful, loving father” to his two children, Ruby, seven, and Adam, 11.

It said: “Richard left for work on Thursday morning, catching his usual train from Ipswich station to Liverpool Street and then taking the tube.

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“It seemed like just a normal day - and then the incident happened and he didn't come home to his family.

“Richard is missing, but we believe he died in London, although this is not confirmed.

“He is a wonderful, loving father to Adam and Ruby and an extremely loving, caring an sensitive husband to Louise.

“He is loved deeply by Louise and his mother Maureen, father Martyn, stepfather John, brothers Matthew, Donal and Ian and also his mother and father-in-law Celia and Paul, who see him as a son.”

Mr Gray has lived in Ipswich for most of his life, after moving to the town when he was eight years old.

His family said: “He has made many, many friends - and his other love, after his family, is the Ipswich - East Suffolk Hockey Club where he played for more than 20 years.

“We want to thank Louise's best friends, Jan and Lisa, and their families for their immeasurable help and support at this time - and also Richard's brother Matthew and his girlfriend, Rachel.

“We also want to thank Richard's work colleagues at FW Smith Riches and Co in Pall Mall, London, where he works as a tax manager. Their support has been tremendous.”

John Adams, chairman of the Ipswich - East Suffolk Hockey Club, said Mr Gray was a popular and well-liked member of the club.

Dr Chris Hatch, business manager and men's team secretary for the club, told of the awful moment when he found out that his friend of 19 years was missing.

Dr Hatch, from Martlesham Heath, said he was told Richard had been a victim of the bombings at about 9.30am on Monday.

“Then Louise spoke to me on the telephone at 3.30pm. She was strong and calm. I told her I had heard and expressed my outrage and deepest sympathy. It is truly quite shocking and a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

Mr Gray was a founding member of the club, when it formed from the Ipswich YMCA in 1986 and played at Chantry Park. Since then it has moved to Rushmere.

Dr Hatch said: “I still remember when he took to the field for the first time against one of the Norwich clubs. He was nervous, he was only 22 at the time, but he played quite well. He was a good grass roots club player.”

He added Mr Gray was a chartered accountant, who worked locally before gaining a job in London.

Mr Gray played hockey around his work and family commitments and had partly qualified as a hockey umpire and occasionally umpired for the club and the junior activities. He also regularly took his children to matches.

Dr Hatch said he would remember Mr Gray as a “good, nice man” who worked hard to bring up his family. He was kind, generous and courteous, with a wry sense of humour.

He said the last time he saw Mr Gray was with his family at a hockey club event in June.

“I hadn't spoken to him since, then I got this shocking news. I was upset and shocked, although its something you think of when you know five to six of your club members commute into London using the trains,” he added.

A statement released by FW Smith Riches and Co said Mr Gray had worked with them for five years and they had been left “reeling with shock” at what had happened.

It said: “He is both well-liked and well thought of by partners and staff alike, hard-working, conscientious and always ready to stop whatever he's doing and help out.

“Richard has always made a lot of time for the clients, happy to talk to them about all sorts of concerns as well as their financial affairs.

“Just how much many of them think of him is only now becoming clear from the number of letters, e-mails and telephone calls that have been flooding into the office offering sympathy and support to his family.

“One very long-standing client writes 'I know that no words of mine can even begin to help Richard's wife and family, but if there is anything one can do in the material sense or otherwise, please keep me advised'.

“Despite his dedication to his work Richard is very much a family man, clearly deeply in love with his wife and extremely proud of his children, always eager to talk about their latest doings and achievements along with his own hockey playing triumphs and disasters.”