Donald Taylor “Don” Ritchie. The Angel of The Gap
(9 June 1925 – 13 May 2012)
“… You can’t just sit there and watch them”
He loved fishing, he loved boats and he loved the navy. But it was his love for life that earned him this epithet.
He was an Australian who resided next to The Gap, a cliff in Sydney, Australia, known for suicide attempts. Ritchie, for half a century helped hundreds of people to reconsider ending their lives. He helped save 500 people, with little more than compassion, a warm smile and a hot cuppa.
He enlisted into the Royal Australian Navy in 1939 as a Seaman during WWII aboard HMAS Hobart and witnesed the surrender of the Japan in Tokyo Bay. After the war he was a life insurance salesman.
In 2006, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his rescues. Ritchie and his wife Moya were also named “Citizens of the Year" for 2010 by Woollahra Council, the local government authority responsible for The Gap. He received Local Hero Award for Australia in 2011, the National Australia Day Council saying: “His kind words and invitations into his home in times of trouble have made an enormous difference … With such simple actions, Don has saved an extraordinary number of lives.”
Ritchie died on 13 May 2012, age 85.
“He was a fisher of men. He threw his line out to terrified people whose lives were shattered and gradually brought them to shore. He caught hundreds of people with a honeyed net … and gave them a little time and attention at a time in their lives when things were just bleak.”
- Friend and priest, the Reverend Father Tony Doherty
Bless your soul, old man. The world needs more people like you. Rest in Peace.