Home and Away Alf stars marriage to wife – hidden wedding to life-saving care

Home and Away star Ray Meagher is best known for playing Alf Stewart, making his debut in the soap's very first episode back in 1988.

While Alf has had two great loves, Ailsa (Judy Nunn) and Martha (played first by Alison Mulvaney and then by Belinda Giblin), actor Ray was in his sixties when he fell in love and settled down with a nurse named Gilly.

Ray, 79, and Gilly dated for six years before secretly tying the knot in Sydney 2010, the same year he took home the Gold Logie award appeared in the West End musical Priscilla.

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"We just went away and did it, and then gradually told a few people who mattered to us," Ray told New Idea. "We’re both very happy."

In 2022, the actor appeared on an episode of Channel Seven's This is Your Life when he finally gave fans a glimpse into their special day.

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."

Although Gilly is no doubt Ray's biggest supporter, he revealed that she prefers to remain out of the spotlight which is why she never accompanies him to high profile events like the Logies.

"Gilly would rather swallow a tonne of bricks than go to the Logies," Ray explained.

"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."

Gilly has been by Ray's side since they first started dating and the former nurse played a vital part in his recovery after he underwent a life-saving triple bypass surgery in 2019.

This was followed by more surgery seven months later after the soap star experienced a worrying tickle in his chest during a walk.

“I really don’t know what I would have done without Gilly,” Ray confessed to New Idea shortly after his first heart surgery. “Once a nurse, always a nurse.”

“She was a lifesaver, and she keeps me on the straight and narrow now,” he added.

Ray also credits his wife to being an incredible cook which allows him to keep a balanced diet – and also makes them a perfect 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.

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He added: "It's a funny old profession it's very precarious, it's a pretty dodgy old profession employment-wise."

But this hasn't been an issue for Ray as he shares a close relationship with Gilly's daughter, Rebecca.

"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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