Ramsey’s RNLI Lifeboat Celebrates 25 Years of Service

Lifeboats News Release

In July volunteers past and present of Ramsey RNLI will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the arrival the Ann & James Ritchie, Ramsey’s much loved lifeboat.

On Tynwald Day, 5th July 1991, the brand new Mersey class RNLB Ann & James Ritchie arrived in Ramsey Bay to replace the Oakley class RNLB James Ball Ritchie which had served Ramsey since 1970. It is the ninth lifeboat to serve the town. Ramsey’s first lifeboat arrived in February 1829.

The new Mersey was constructed in fibre reinforced composite and was technically a vast improvement on the wooden Oakley, not least because of its twin Caterpillar 3208T turbo-charged marine diesels, which give her a top speed of 17 knots, twice that of the James Ball Ritchie.

The half-a-million-pound cost of this sophisticated craft was met by a bequest of the late Mrs Ann Ritchie, a resident of Ramsey and also President of Ramsey Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild until her death in 1990. Under the terms of her will the residue of her estate became the Gough Ritchie Charitable Trust. One third of its income is distributed to the RNLI for use on the Isle of Man. In 1969 her late husband, Mr J.B. Ritchie, had gifted the James Ball Ritchie to the RNLI for use in Ramsey. Sadly, he died before it came into service.

The new boathouse building, the New Norbury Boathouse, that was required to house the new lifeboat cost a further quarter-million pounds. The sum was raised entirely by the determined and astounding fundraising skills of Ramsey Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild.

The Ann & James Ritchie was officially placed in service on Friday 12th July 1991 and was launched on service from Ramsey for the first time on 23rd July 1991. The first service in which the new boat was involved actually occurred on 30th June during the delivery passage from Poole to Ramsey, when it attended the motor tug Sea Viper, stranded the rocks near Lands End, took off the three-man crew and landed them at Newlyn, Cornwall. A naming ceremony for the Ann & James Ritchie took place in mid-October 1991.

Coxswain Mark Kenyon said: ’Our Mersey class lifeboat the Ann & James Ritchie has proved to be a great asset to the town and port of Ramsey. She has stood the test of time and looks as good now as she did when first delivered all those years ago. During the past twenty-five years she has been called into action over 180 times. I am confident that both casualties and crew alike are very grateful to her for bringing them safely home.

‘So we invite you all join us in our celebrations - the Ladies’ Guild is holding a birthday tea here in the boathouse on Friday 8th July and Ramsey RNLI Lifeboat Day is on Saturday 23rd July.’

In 1991 Captain Michael Brew was the Station’s Honorary Secretary; 25 years later he is President of Ramsey RNLI Branch. On Saturday 23rd July Captain Brew will be guest of honour and launch Ramsey Lifeboat Day. He added: ‘The funds for the then new lifeboat and also the building of the new boathouse were all raised locally. This represented a considerable community achievement of which we should be very proud.’ 

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.