Home and Away’s Alf Stewart has had two great loves since living in Summer Bay but in real life, actor Ray Meagher was in his sixties when he met and fell in love with a nurse
Ray Meagher, star of Home and Away, is most remembered for his role as Alf Stewart, which he first played in the 1988 premiere of the serial opera.
While actor Ray was in his fifties when he fell in love and married a nurse named Gilly, Alf has had two great loves: Ailsa (Judy Nunn) and Martha (played by Alison Mulvaney and then by Belinda Giblin).
Before discreetly getting married in Sydney in 2010, the year he won the Gold Logie award for his performance in the West End musical Priscilla, Ray, 79, dated Gilly for six years.
“We just went away and did it, and then gradually told a few people who mattered to us,” Ray stated to New Idea. “We’re both very happy.”
The actor eventually gave fans a peek into their momentous day when he made an appearance on an episode of Channel Seven’s This is Your Life in 2022.
Admitting that year was a “really big” one for him, Ray admitted: “Of course, [the highlight] was marrying Gillian!” as the audience applauded.
As the program unveiled previously unseen photos from their secret wedding, Gilly opened up about the planning behind their low-key ceremony.
“We didn’t have any guests at the wedding,” she told host Melissa Doyle. “I did catering and flowers. So I had a vase of flowers, I had a cheese platter, and that was it. And we went out for dinner.”
Ray chipped in: “It was a great day.”
Ray disclosed that, despite Gilly being his staunchest ally, she would rather stay out of the spotlight, which is why she never goes with him to high-profile functions like the Logies.
“Gilly would rather swallow a tonne of bricks than go to the Logies,” Ray said.
“She says ‘That’s your work, you go and you don’t have to worry about me… not knowing a whole heap of people’ so she’s very comfortable with that.”
Ray has had Gilly by his side ever since they started dating, and the former nurse was extremely helpful in his recuperation following a triple bypass operation that saved his life in 2019.
Seven months later, after the soap actor felt a troubling tickling in his chest while out for a stroll, he had more surgery.
Ray told New Idea shortly after his first heart operation, “I really don’t know what I would have done without Gilly.” “A nurse is a nurse for life.”
He continued, “She kept me on the straight and narrow now and was a lifesaver.”
In addition, Ray says that his wife’s amazing cooking skills enable him to maintain a balanced diet and make them a wonderful match.
“I think that it’s fair to say that I’ve got a pretty balanced diet, and that’s all thanks to Gilly, too,” the TV star said.
“There are probably three or four things I can cook, but I never get near the place. Gilly enjoys cooking and I enjoy eating, so we’re a natural-born team!”
He gushed: “I’m a lucky man indeed!”
While Alf is father to four children, Ray hasn’t welcomed kids in real life and previously opened up about why his job played a role in the decision.
“When I was younger as a freelance actor, I wondered whether I’d be able to feed myself let alone anybody else,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2018, suggesting that the uncertain nature of acting is why he doesn’t have children.
He added: “It’s a funny old profession it’s very precarious, it’s a pretty dodgy old profession employment-wise.”
“I have a stepdaughter Rebecca who is in her early 40s,” he previously said.
“I talk to her at least once a week and see her for brekkie or brunch whenever the Home and Away schedule permits, which is maybe once a fortnight, and I love that.”
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