Don Ritchie: Angel Of The Gap
Up until May of last year, when he tragically lost his battle with cancer at the age of 86, Australian Don Ritchie lived a modest, unassuming life, one which earned him the deserved nickname ‘Angel of the Gap’ having saved the lives of more than 160 people throughout his residency in eastern Sydney.
Having spent much of his young-adult life serving in the Royal Australian Navy, followed by a long career at a life insurance company, Don Ritchie lead something of a quiet, inelaborate existence. However, with his family home located just meters away from Australia’s most famous suicide point, known as The Gap, found within the sheer cliffs of Sydney harbour, Don was destined to become a saviour to many.
Having begun his selfless service back in 1964, Don would gaze out of his window, every morning, looking for anybody standing alone, too close to the cliff’s edge. Beginning with the simple phrase, “Can I help you in some way?" Don would approach those contemplating suicide, often inviting them inside for a cup of tea, or, if necessary, sometimes even physically dragging them back from the edge, with no regard for his own health or well-being. In doing so, Don offered them another chance to reconsider their potentially fatal decision, and he did so to great effect.
Seeing his bittersweet location as nothing less than a blessing, and never once considering moving house, Don once spoke to his friends about his life-saving habits, telling them, “I was a salesman for most of my life and [to the people whose deaths I prevented] – I sold them life.”
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