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Pagers go off during memorial service of past lifeboat crew Ronald Blay

Lifeboats News Release

On a sunny Saturday afternoon the memorial service was taking place at the Ramsgate Sailors Church for Ron Blay, a familiar face around Ramsgate Harbour where he fished, skippered the Dredger and served for thirty three years with the RNLI.

Ronald Fredrick Charles Blay 1935-2023


Ronald Fredrick Charles Blay 1935-2023

Ron loved nothing more than a practical joke, and so it would have amused him immensely when after the opening music had been played and just as the Vicar started to read the eulogy Coxswain Ian Cannon’s pager phone went off loudly with a call for a launch. Ian attempted to leave the service quickly but struggled to open the door giving him an agonising few seconds of embarrassment.

As the second attempt at the eulogy began, loud announcements of an imminent lifeboat launch were broadcast around the harbour interrupting the funeral for the second time and leaving the Vicar having to shout over the noise.

Being the family of a volunteer lifeboatman, everyone saw the funny side especially when Ron’s love of pranks was mentioned in the eulogy. They also went on to tell Ron’s favourite story from his days on the lifeboat which involved rescuing someone from the water at night. The crew were alerted to the casualty’s location in the dark by a gull sitting on the top of his head, leading Ron’s often repeated claim that he’d witnessed a gull saving someone’s life!

It turned out that the launch was to a swimmer in difficulty in Pegwell Bay. Once the inshore lifeboat arrived on the scene they found that the swimmer was safely ashore and in no danger and so it was stood down and returned to Ramsgate Lifeboat Station.

This allowed Ron’s ashes to be scattered at sea by the Lifeboat later that day whilst his family and friends watched from the East Cliff. A fitting way to say goodbye to someone who will be sadly missed by family, colleagues and friends.

Karen Cox Lifeboat Press Officer Email [email protected] Tel 07779848431

Hatti Mellor National Media Manager Email [email protected] Tel 07724 801305

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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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