Memories of a life well lived in Collieston

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ONE of Collieston’s best known residents passed away last week, after a life spanning almost a century of service.

Rear Admiral Steve Ritchie died on May 9 at the age of 97, a well known and respected figure in the village of Collieston where he had settled after a prestigious career in the navy.

Rear Admiral Ritchie was born in Burnley in 1914 to Scottish parents, and throughout his life he maintained connections with the north-east. He joined the navy’s Surveying Service in 1936, winning the Distinguished Service Cross during World War 2. After the war, he continued work surveying the world’s oceans, rising to the position of Aide de Camp to the Queen and Hydrographer of the Navy. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1966 and was made a Companion of the Bath in 1967. He later became president of the International Hydrographic Bureau in Monaco.

After a prestigious career earning a string of scientific accolades, he retired to his ancestral village of Collieston with his wife, Disa, who he met during the war. The couple’s marriage produced four children - John, Tertia, Paul and Mark.

Friend Jack Page told the Times that RAdm Ritchie - always known as plain Steve - would be sorely missed in Collieston.

“He got on great with everyone,” he said. “He did astounding things, yet he could speak to anyone. The fact that he was an admiral didn’t count for him - he was a genuinely good bloke. His passions were raising money for the pier fund, and of course, boules. He founded the local club after picking up the sport in Monaco, and now it has 40 members - testimony to the strength of his personality.

“He personally believed that one of his greatest achievements was leading his triples team - the Flukies - to victory in the boules league in 2004. Everybody knew him in the village. He really was easy to speak to, and larger than life.”

Community council spokeswoman Sally Sheehan told the Times that the Rear Admiral had been an active participant in village life.

“Steve was an inspiration to everyone in Collieston and Slains,” she said. “He brought so much to the community whether as Amenities Committee Chair, the annual Gala, the Boules Club and of course Collieston Pier. He will be greatly missed, but very fondly remembered.”

RAdm Steve Ritchie is survived by his children Tertia, Paul and Mark.