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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 Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland