Darlene Foster's Blog

Tea Can Save a Life

Posted on: March 26, 2012

Every now  and then you read something that restores your faith in human nature.  My blogging friend Maxi posted this on Maxi’s Comments March 19, 2012 and with her permission, I am reposting it on my blog.  Everyone should read about this special person.

Tea Can Save A Life

A woman teeters on the edge of a cliff in Sydney, Australia. It’s called “The Gap.” A three-foot-fence is all that separates the jumper from death. Hopeless and helpless, she inches forward, than drops to the ground.

 (two people stand at the fence of The Gap)

“Why don’t you come and have a cup of tea?” a voice whispers on the wind. Slowly, she turns and connects with the smile of an angel. It is enough to coax her back, to change her mind.



Don Ritchie has saved many lives in his 50 years on the porch. He sits in a favorite green chair to read … and watch. He and wife Moya live across the street from the suicide bluff.

“You can’t just sit there and watch them,” Don sighs. “You gotta try and save them. It’s pretty simple.”

Some people think it’s grim, not Don. He used to sell life insurance, now he sells life. “It’s a gift,” he believes. Every day when he awakes, the elderly man shuffles to the second-story window, prays no one is at the cliff.

“He’s an angel,” beams Dianne Gaddin. “Most people would be too afraid to do anything, and would probably sooner turn away and run away. But he had the courage, and the charisma, and the care, and the magnetism to reach people who were coming to the end of their tether.”

Dianne likes to believe that Don was there when her daughter jumped from The Gap in 2005. He can’t remember, yet she feels comfort that Tracy felt his warmth at the end. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gap_%28Sydney%29

There was a time when Don climbed the fence to save a life. No more. He almost went over the cliff with a woman one day. She was hysterical, out of control; Don stood between her and the abyss below. Had she launched herself over the edge, he would have gone also.

Yet, he can’t save them all. The wind was strong on the day a teenager stood at the brink.  As the old man offered tea and solace, the boy glanced up, it wasn’t enough. Just that quick he was gone. Don reached out, the boy’s hat landed in his open hand.

The “suicide angel” discovered the boy had lived next door years ago. His mother brought flowers to Don, grateful that he had tried. “If you couldn’t talk him out of it, no one could,” she sobbed.

There is no regret for those he can’t help, no lingering nightmares. Don does his best, accepts that no more can be done.

In 2006, the government awarded Don Ritchie with a Medal of the Order of Australia, a high civilian honor. It stands out on his living room wall, above a painting of sunshine; someone left it in the mailbox. The honor on the plaque reads: Ritchie “an angel that walks amongst us.”

Remember the woman at the start of this story? The ground beneath her body felt warm as she sat and gazed across the water; her purse was on the other side of the fence. Don convinced her to come to the house for tea; he and Moya dished up breakfast as they listened to her troubles.

The stranger was spent at the end of her tale, but felt much better. She decided to go home.

She returned a few months later with a bottle of champagne. Once a year she makes contact with the Ritchie’s to let them know that she is okay, happy with life.

Don Ritchie is a former Navy seaman, used to be busy, out and about, lunch with friends. His age and a constant battle with cancer have slowed him down. http://wentworth-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/honour-for-angel-of-the-gap/


The last I read, as of Feb. 2011 Don was still there reading … and watching.

May Your Glass Always Be Half Full


 Read Maxi’s other great blog posts at  http://maxiscomments.com/

Have you heard of any one special lately? Someone who is making a difference.

Have you discovered how having  a cup of tea can make a difference?

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. Mother Teresa

25 Responses to "Tea Can Save a Life"

This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Absolutely beautiful! I wish there were more stories like this in the news instead of all the negatives. People need hope and this wonderful man is there to give some. thanks so much for sharing him with us!

Your stories about amazing people are always so inspirational as well. I love reading them and sharing. We need to hear these stories.

What an amazingly touching story – what makes it so powerful is that such a simple gesture can have such impact. Wonderful that Don Ritchie has been officially recognised during his lifetime.

This was a wonderful inspiring story. Thank you for sharing and for the sweet messages on my blog. Donna


I am so glad everyone has enjoyed this heart warming story that I was pleased to be able to share.

Such a wonderful story, thank you for sharing and for the introduction to Maxi’s Comments.

You will love Maxi’s posts!

Such an inspiring story. We never know the long term impact of a simple act of kindness or a caring word. In fact, I’ve discovered we often don’t realize how our presence in other people’s lives can make a difference. We don’t have to know the perfect thing to do or say. Just being there is important!

The world needs more people like Don Ritchie. In fact there are probably many like him, we just don’t seem to hear about them.

What a moving story about a selfless man. He’s proof one person can make a big difference.

Thanks Kelly, so true.

Wow, what an amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing it.

Thanks for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed the story.

I love stories like that. They serve to restore one’s faith in mankind. Especially in light of some of the news stories that makes you shake your head in wonder.

I guess that’s why I don’t follow the news anymore. Much prefer these type of stories. Perhaps we could start a newspaper with only good news!

Beautiful, Darlene! Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

Reblogged this on newfoundlandtraveller and commented:
This is so inspirational! Thanks for reblogging. I’m doing the same. I’ve read it twice. Thanks, Don Ritchie!

Thanks so much for reblogging this. It needs to be shared!

I agree. I used to work on a crises line so it really struck home with me.

Thanks for the like on my blog today. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts as I enjoyed this one about the cup of tea making a difference.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I LOVE Flat Ruthie and all the wonderful places she visits!


Thanks for visiting my blog. This is a “wow” story for sure.

It’s truly amazing. We rarely meet such simple heroes.

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