THE FAMILY of a popular Newport man who died unexpectedly have launched a desperate appeal to help pay towards his funeral.

Robert Dray, from Ladyhill, Newport, died aged 66 last month to the shock of his family and friends who are now struggling to meet the costs of the funeral.

The family have been told a “basic” service at Gwent Crematorium in Cwmbran will cost £2,684.

Mr Dray’s family need to raise £1,000 to pay in advance of the service, having agreed with funeral directors to pay the remainder in instalments afterwards.

One of Mr Dray’s five children, Natasha Williams, said the family has launched the online appeal as a last resort.

“Never have I asked for help before, I have always given to charity,” said Ms Williams, 26, who is currently unable to work due to fibromyalgia and other medical issues.

“For me to be getting the begging bowl out now is a case of being on my knees, the whole family is.”

She added: “My dad just needs to be cremated.

“Everybody deserves some kind of send-off.”

The family have applied for a government grant but Ms Williams is unsure whether this will be available by April 3 - the proposed date of her father’s funeral.

Members of the family have even been trying to sell items to meet the costs after the death which Ms Williams said came “completely out of the blue.”

Ms Williams, from Two Locks, Cwmbran, added: “None of us have had the chance to grieve properly yet because we have all been in so much of a panic trying to get this sorted out.”

Mr Dray, who also had six grandchildren, was described as “everybody’s favourite, loveable person” by his daughter, Ms Williams.

He enjoyed socialising with friends and travelling, especially to Egypt.

Paying tribute, Ms Williams - who has worked as a volunteer for BLIZE Rescue and raised thousands of pounds for charity - said: “A lot of people knew him and a lot of people loved him.

“He was so easy to get on with. He was the type of person you would see in the pub and you would get chatting and be there three hours later.”

Anyone wishing to help can donate by visiting