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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Forget Martha and Ailsa– Meet the Real Mrs Stewart

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‘I don’t know what I would have done without Gilly’ 

Joy radiates off Ray Meagher as he admits he’d be nothing without the incredible woman he quietly married 12 years ago after a whirlwind romance.

“She is absolutely fantastic,” Ray, 78, says of his beautiful wife, Gilly.

Ray underwent life-saving triple bypass surgery in 2019, and it was Gilly, a former nurse, who helped him regain his footing. Three significant blockages in Ray’s coronary artery had been found by doctors. Seven months later, the Home and Away fanatic felt a troubling tickling in his chest while out for a walk, necessitating more surgery.

Ray admitted, “I truly don’t know what I would have done without Gilly. “A nurse is a nurse, forever.”

Gilly, who is a fantastic cook as well, closely monitors her husband’s food to make sure he is healthy and prepared for any future health difficulties. They will be able to deal with them together if they do. Additionally, it means that Ray can continue doing the work he enjoys, some 34 years after arriving in Summer Bay for the first time.

Ray claims, “It’s fair to say that I have a fairly balanced diet, and that’s all owing to Gilly. I can probably prepare three or four things, but I never go near the kitchen.

“Gilly likes to cook, and I like to eat, so we make a great team!”

Before Gilly came into the picture, the situation was very different. Ray acknowledges that his health scare was caused by “poor living for 40 years” due to his emphasis on “having too much fun.”

After his fright, Ray was able to quickly return to Home and Away with Gilly at his side, showering him with love and devotion, even though he had to limit the number of beers he would often drink on nights out with friends.

Ray beams, “She saved my life, and now she keeps me on the straight and narrow.

While Ray’s well-known alter ego Alf Stewart had had two significant relationships (Martha, initially portrayed by Alison Mulvaney and later by Belinda Giblin, and Ailsa, portrayed by Judy Nunn), the actor had never experienced that transformative love.

In fact, Gilly was a single mother of Rebecca when Ray fell in love with her in his sixties.

The couple wed in secret in a low-key ceremony in 2010 after six years of dating. Ray didn’t share the good news until after that year’s TV Week Logie Awards, where he won a long-overdue Gold Logie.

Ray told New Idea, “We just went away and did it, and then gradually notified a few people who mattered to us.” We both feel really happy.

Even though Gilly, who is very private, wasn’t with Ray on the Logie Awards night, “[s]he would sooner swallow a load of bricks than go!” She is stepping into the spotlight in this week’s episode of This Is Your Life to help honour Ray, as Ray once joked.

Kate Ritchie, Chris Hemsworth, and Pat, Ray’s adoptive mother who raised him after he was orphaned, will all be present to honour the TV legend.

Millions of Australians view Ray as a national treasure, and he holds the record for the longest-running performer in an Australian TV role.

“I’ve got a fully reconditioned motor now, and I should be right for another 100,000 miles,” he says.

Having decided early on in his career as an actor that he wouldn’t have children because of the precarious nature of the entertainment business, Ray also “loves” that he’s got a close relationship with his stepdaughter, Rebecca, who is taking part in the This Is Your Life special alongside her mum.

“I’m a very lucky man indeed!” he beams.

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