Death of the Angel of The Gap
2012-05-22 0:00

By Glenda Kwek | SydneyMorningHerald


Gap Bluff, Watsons Bay, Sydney, cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Wikipedia/Mussklprozz


For almost half a century, Don Ritchie would approach people contemplating suicide at the edge of The Gap, just 50 metres from his home in Watsons Bay, his palms facing up.

Mr Ritchie told his daughter Sue Ritchie Bereny he would smile and say: "Is there something I could do to help you?"

"And that was all that was often needed to turn people around, and he would say not to underestimate the power of a kind word and a smile," said Ms Ritchie Bereny.

Mr Ritchie, sometimes known as the angel or watchman of The Gap, is acknowledged to have stopped about 160 people from jumping to their deaths.



Don Ritchie. Photo: Steve Baccon


He died at St Vincent’s Hospital on Sunday, surrounded by his wife Moya, 85, daughters Jan, Donna and Sue, and four grandchildren, who travelled from across Australia and from Indonesia to Sydney to see him. He was 85.




Mr Ritchie was born on June 9, 1926 in Vaucluse, and studied at Vaucluse Public School and Scots College.

When World War II broke out, he served in the Royal Australian Navy on HMAS Hobart, and was on the ship in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered in 1945.

From his 30s to his 60s, Mr Ritchie worked for a multinational firm and built up a significant career in the corporate world, Ms Ritchie Bereny said.


Don and Moya Ritchie


In 1964, the former life insurance salesman moved into a house on Old South Head Road across the road from Jacobs Ladder at the southern end of the Gap Park. It was his home till the end.

From that time, Mr Ritchie started to rescue suicidal strangers.

"Things were different way back then. It was before there were police rescue vans, before there were more sophisticated mechanisms like hotlines. In those days, he got a bravery medal for saving somebody at the cliff - he actually tackled somebody on the edge of the cliff," Ms Ritchie Bereny said.

"He is famous for bringing people back to the house for tea or breakfast."

In 2006 Mr Ritchie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his rescues.

His actions touched so many hearts that, in 2010, he and his wife were named Woollahra Council’s citizens of the year.

Last year, he was given the Local Hero Award for Australia by the National Australia Day Council.

"In a situation where most would turn a blind eye, Don has taken action ... With such simple actions Don has saved an extraordinary number of lives," the National Australia Day Council said.

Today, Woollahra Council and the National Australia Day Council praised Mr Ritchie for his dedication.

"Don’s story touched the hearts of all Australians and challenged each of us to rethink what it means to be a good neighbour," the acting chief executive of the National Australia Day Council, Tam Johnston, said in a statement.


[...]

"...It’s about an everyday person who did an extraordinary thing for many people that saved lives, without any want of recognition."


Read the full article at: smh.com.au









Related Articles
Suicide: News Fit to Print
Suicide Forest in Japan (Video)
War Woe: Suicide kills more US soldiers than combat (Video)
Remembering the US Soldier Who Committed Suicide After She Refused to Take Part in Torture
Greece’s locked up migrant children attempt suicide
Air pollution ups suicide risk: Study
Can you commit suicide while sleeping?
The Commonwealth Bank congratulates Australia’s Local Hero


Latest News from our Front Page

"Cheerful" Dutch Financier Becomes 4th ABN Amro Banker Suicide
2015-01-28 23:47
Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as ...
West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
2015-01-27 0:20
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
More News »