Ray opens high street shop to sell off 25-year haul of ceramic collectables

A man who has collected hundreds of ceramic ornaments over a quarter of a century will open a shop this week on Forres high street to sell them off.

Ray McDonald, who many know as the founder of Ray’s Opportunities charity, will open his new shop called Keepsakes at 20 High Street on Friday (13 May).

Ray said that now that he is retired, he wanted to sell his collectables in a shop rather than on the internet.

“I felt it prudent to consider selling my vast collection of modern ceramics but I didn’t want to use the internet as a platform, and acquired the shop in 2019.”

Following extensive refurbishment works and installation of display units the shop was scheduled to open in May 2020 but due to the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Ray decided to defer opening until all retail restrictions had been lifted.

High street presence

“I felt that it would be beneficial to provide a unique sales display area for my collection, for the Forres community to view, reminisce and hopefully purchase. I also wanted to have a High Street presence for my charity.”

Ray’s Opportunities supports people with physical, hidden and learning disabilities. His charity operated the cafe in the Forres House Community Centre, and this closed during lockdown which coincided with the end of his lease.

The people employed there gained training and experience with food preparation, hospitality and food hygiene at the café and the charity also ran a series of independent living skills workshops entitled ‘Food Work and Health Matters’.

There is a small area at the rear of the shop which acts as a ‘Bargain Corner’ and will continue to provide funds for the charity.

Ray has built his collection over 25 years but said he has never been able to display more than 20% of the ceramics, with the remaining 80% staying boxed and unopened.

Some items have sentimental value and Ray has either stored these securely or used them for the window display. Some are signed by the artists.

All ages and pockets

Ray and partner Iris will open the shop for two days a week initially, providing something for all ages and from 25p to £300.

He added: “We’re not sure what the interest will be but feel that the shop is quite unique in offering a display that will have some customers reminiscing on their past and bringing nostalgia and fun to the High Street following the recent Pandemic.

“The shop displays a vast range of figurine memorabilia covering Wallace and Gromit, Beano and Dandy, Winnie the Pooh, the Wombles, PG Chimps, Camberwick Green and a range of Robert Harrop resin dog characters depicting most dog breeds in various guises.

“Our modern-day Clarice Cliff is represented by a collection of Lorna Bailey figurines and chargers. The Royal Doulton ladies ‘Charleston Range’ is also displayed as well as Royal Crown Derby paperweights.

“Advertising memorabilia is depicted by a ceramic range from Millennium Collectables and there will be a display of Swarovski Crystal planned for the future.

Ray has had an incredibly chequered career, initially training as a draughtsman, then going on to set up a building company and becoming a master baker. He moved from the London area to look after his parents in Banff.

Keepsakes will be open from 11am till 3pm on Friday and Saturday from tomorrow (13 May).

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