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Ray Shaw: Aberdeen harbour master and Haddo ‘parking mannie’ remembered

Ray Shaw.
Ray Shaw.

Former Aberdeen harbour master, Haddo House ‘parking mannie’, photographer and font of knowledge: Ray Shaw from Ellon has passed away aged 63.

Made for sailing

John Raymond Shaw – always known as Ray – was born on April 23, 1958 in Leeds.

He was one of two sons for Jennie, who worked as a teacher, and John Derek Shaw – a senior lecturer in electrical engineering.

Ray attended Waterloo and Wellington primary schools before moving on to Lapage Junior High then Carlton Grammar School.

He then enrolled at the Nautical College in Fleetwood.

With seafaring training complete Ray joined the merchant navy in 1975.

Off-putting start to navy life

His inaugural trip was to Asia, visiting Singapore, however it wasn’t an ideal first voyage.

“The captain was stabbed onboard so needless to say his mother and father didn’t want him to go away again. But of course this didn’t stop him,” said Emma Killicoat, Ray’s daughter.

Captain Ray Shaw.

He would remain in the merchant navy until 1994 by which point he had travelled all over the world on a variety of ships and gained the rank of captain before leaving to pursue onshore work.

Blind date

Ray met future wife Julie Wilson on a blind date arranged by mutual friends in 1984.

They married in Fleetwood on January 24, 1987 and daughter Emma was born later that year.

Son, John James arrived in November 1989.

Ray shown during his last holiday in Greece with wife Julie.

In 1994 after years of work taking him away from his family Ray wanted to work closer to home.

Offshore work had been challenging. He was once stuck in Nigeria for months and had to set sail just days after his son was born.

Aberdeenshire bound

The family moved to Ellon and Ray took up a post in Aberdeen harbour in 1994, in the navigation control centre.

He was promoted in 2000, became harbour master in 2006 and retired 10 years later.

Following his retirement, in 2017, Ray began volunteering at Haddo House and country park.

Shown in full uniform, Ray Shaw.

He helped develop the sensory garden and acted as tour guide for the National Trust in the main house.

In more recent times he worked in the car park.

‘The dad we all wished we had’

The team at Haddo paid tribute to Ray.

They said: “Ray’s knowledge of Haddo was second to none and his stories were the stuff of legend.

“He was the first person to chat to visitors working as our beloved “parking mannie” which he did with a cheeky smile and winking wit. Not the easiest of roles but he loved it.

Ray loved to capture wildlife, especially in the grounds of Haddo.

“Ray was also a house guide, the role he was most passionate about. The very few answers he didn’t have to visitor’s questions he would diligently research so he had them in future. He also volunteered at numerous events including as photographer at Santa Paws.

“We could write pages of why we will miss Ray, he was so very special.

“He was the dad we all wish we’d had, a loyal friend, and one of Haddo’s most committed cheerleaders. We loved him very much. T’ra old chum.”


When he wasn’t putting his camera skills to good use at Haddo Ray was part of Ellon Photographic Group.

This passion inspired many of he and Julie’s trips abroad. They loved to go on safari trips and together visited many countries but especially loved Africa.

He was also a committed member of Ellon Men’s Shed and was invited to be treasurer. However, it coincided with a decline in Ray’s health so he was disappointed to have to refuse.

Health challenges

Ray passed away on February 10 in Woodend Hospital following a relatively short period of illness.

“My dad started feeling like he had pulled a muscle in his back.

Pictured in the Aberdeen harbour’s pilot house navigational control centre, is harbour master Ray Shaw.

“It got worse until we eventually organised a private scan which revealed a secondary cancer. On operating, a primary cancer was found which led to more health complications,” added Emma.

He is survived by his wife and children, his two granddaughters, son and daughter-in-law, and had one other grandchild on the way.

Final goodbye

A celebration of Ray’s life will take place on March 4 at Aberdeen Crematorium’s West Chapel.

Emma added: “My dad was the most loving father and granddad. He was full of knowledge and always wanting to share what he knew. He was like a sponge. Never without something to pass on that he had just learned about.

“He was so funny – and loved to wind us up. Always smiling. Always happy. A gentleman. He made an impact on everyone who knew him. And we are at a loss without him. “