RAYMOND Caley, proprietor of Sulby Stores, expected to spend his 70th birthday quietly at home.
But as he shut up shop at the end of the day, long-time friend Eddie Teare MHK appeared in the doorway and announced: ‘You’re coming with me!’
A few yards down the road, the Community Hall was packed with people and when Raymond walked in they burst into song, wishing him a ‘Happy Birthday’.
The surprise party was organised by Vivien Quane, Judy Kelly and others who had somehow managed to keep it all a secret from Raymond. This was no mean feat, considering his shop is the hub of the village, where the latest news is often known before it reaches the papers!
After a sumptuous tea, Vivien presented gifts on behalf of the whole community. There was a birthday card hand-made by Marie Livesey, complete with the names of everyone who had contributed; a pair of original paintings by Michael Starkey – one of Sulby Glen Railway Station, where Raymond’s father Fred was station master, and the other of Sulby Bridge station; an album compiled by Steve Colvin of photographs extending from Sulby School infants to the present day and featuring friends past and present; and, finally, an envelope of euros to spend on his next fishing trip to Ireland.
To round off the celebration, everyone enjoyed a slice of birthday cake made by Maureen Rimmer.
Although he has lived his whole life in Sulby, Raymond was actually born in Kirk Michael on January 13, 1941. His mother was visiting her parents in Kirk Michael when there was a big fall of snow and she was unable to return home in time for the baby’s arrival!
They lived at Shiloh, in Clennagh Road, until Raymond was 15 and then moved into Sulby Stores, which his mother ran. He joined her in the business when he left school and eventually took it over. In recent years, he handed over the sub post office side of the business to Graham Garrett.
Last month, Dennis Duggan CP presented him with the Captain of the Parish’s prize for devotion to the community.
Dennis, who was among the guests at the birthday party, said: ‘He does an awful lot of charity work behind the scenes and has done for a long time. He is a very kind-hearted man.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west