Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Portrait of a Happy Couple

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Portrait of a Happy Couple

Article excerpt

Byline: By Barbara Argument

Old sepia prints of two beautiful Whitby fishergirls became the unlikely key to an amazing love story.

The haunting images sparked a fifty-something romance to tug fiercely at the heartstrings.

It was portraits by Victorian photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe that brought together Jenny Matthews and top Sixties pop rock musician, Ray Randall.

Their chance meeting on a trip to the seaside town to check out Sutcliffe's work led to a love that changed their lives for ever.

Today, Ray and Jenny live and work in the town that brought them together.

Ray says: "Something was working to get us in the same place at the same time and for the same reason."

His quest to discover more about 19th century beauty Polly Swallow was a solitary obsession - until he met Jenny in the restaurant of a Whitby hotel.

She had been drawn to the town to find out more about another Sutcliffe girl, Alice Hawkesfield.

On the same week, at the same hotel, in the same town, in search of the same answers, Jenny and Ray were set on a romantic collision course.

They talked about their magnificent obsession and joined forces to dig into the history of the Sutcliffe girls.

And they fell in love.

Soon, Ray and Jenny decided to leave their lives in London and Lancashire to set up home in Whitby.

And that's where Ray revived his musical career, which peaked as bass guitarist with pop star Billy Fury's band, The Tornados.

The group's No 1 hit in 1962 during the early space race years, was the memorable Telstar.

It took him to gigs round the country with screaming fans waiting at the stage door; gave him memories of munching burgers with John Lennon and the Beatles at a motorway cafe and of jamming with the Rolling Stones.

"All the big names of the day," says 59- year-old Ray, matter of factly.

Now, with Jenny as his manager, he has recorded a rock-folk album inspired by Polly - in Whitby, with Whitby musicians Charles O'Connor of Horslips, Chris Parkinson of House Band, and Paul Whittaker.

With a limited edition Tornados CD also on the go and work on another rock collection nearing completion, Ray is in demand for live gigs around the region.

Looking back on the meeting with Jenny, engineered by owners of Whitby's White Horse and Griffin, Ray says: "They knew we were both here alone, so decided to introduce us.

"It was definitely as if everything was being done by someone to guide us here to be together."

But Jenny insists: "Neither of us were looking for love.

"We had been married and divorced and there was no intention of starting a romance.

"I had a been on my own for a long time and had made a life and a career."

Ray admits life was seriously on the skids until he became obsessed with a friend's sepia photograph of Polly Swallow. …

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