Ray pours last beer after 34-years
ABOUT 6pm last night, Ray Hickey pulled the last beer of his 34-year career at Grafton District Golf Club.
After spending much of his working life behind the golf club bar, Ray is now looking forward to retirement and the chance to sit on the other side of a few bars.
The club’s bar manager yesterday said he felt as if he was floating on air as he neared the end of his shift and the start of his life of leisure from today, although there is someone even more thrilled at the prospect.
“My wife, Ann, is ecstatic, I think she’s more excited than I am,” Ray said.
“We’re going to become grey nomads and travel around Australia. We’ve updated our vehicle and updated our van.
“I don’t have any interest in travelling overseas apart from maybe Tasmania and New Zealand; I’ll see most of Australia first.”
Ray should have retired when he turned 65 last January but he agreed to stay on for a while longer because of some changes of personnel at the golf club.
Ray joined the golf club in the mid-1970s and has been pulling beers and running the cellar ever since.
His early working life had seen him have six-year stints on the railways and the PMG and one year as a beef carter before moving into the hotel and club industry.
He soon wound up at the golf club and has since displayed the type of loyalty that is rare in any industry these days, let alone one with the long hours and hard work involved with running a bar.
“It’s a job where either you’ve got it or you haven’t and I was lucky enough to have it,” Ray said.
“I was lucky enough to have a good disposition and get along with most people. I’ve had very, very few blues with anybody.”
Ray said he had enjoyed the chance to meet many people from different walks of life.
“They’re all individuals to me and I treat them that way,” he said.
There have also been numerous changes in the entertainment industry during Ray’s career, including the introduction of random breath testing and the growth in the varieties and styles of drinks enjoyed by patrons.
“Mostly in my career I’ve been serving Tooheys New but these days XXXX Gold is our biggest seller,” he said.
“Golfers don’t drink as much as they used to. Now they mainly have one round and go.”