The Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade said goodbye to one of their own last week with all the pomp, ceremony and respect due to one of their life members.
Eighty nine-year-old Edward George Rishton Ramsbotham, known to everyone as Ted, was laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Cherrilyn, in the old cemetery on the hill at Ferry Landing. Ted put in 14 years with the brigade on and off until heart problems curtailed his active service, but he always continued to have a keen interest in everything his firefighting colleagues did and was one of their most ardent supporters.
By way of honouring one of their comrades, the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade transported an antique 1934 fire engine from the Coromandel Town Fire Station to add a bit of history and tradition to the cortege. Ted’s casket was carried aboard the vintage fire truck from the Whitianga Fire Station to St Andrew’s by the Sea Community Church for a service attended by a great host of family and community members, as well as the fire brigade.
The eulogy was read by Ted’s eldest grandson, Sam, with Whitianga Fire Chief, Roly Chaney, delivering a fire service tribute. For those who could not attend in person, the service was livestreamed on the internet.
“It was pretty cool,” said Ted’s daughter Tanya Broomhead. “It was such a lovely ceremony and a beautiful way to honour our father and how great he was.”
After the service, the fire brigade took Ted’s coffin to the Whitianga Wharf where it was accompanied by 60-odd mourners on the Whitianga ferry to Ferry Landing, with family members taking turns to help carry the casket up the hill to the cemetery. “He was buried facing out to sea, keeping an eye on everyone,” said Tanya.
Born in Katikati in 1933, Ted attended Matamata College, later getting an apprenticeship as an electrician in Hamilton, from where he would bicycle home for the weekends to Matamata. He then worked as an electrician on the Whakamaru dam, in the Mangakino area.
After his parents and younger siblings moved to Whitianga, Ted purchased a section with a small dwelling next door to the family home. This has been his residence since then, with the addition of a flat, and it was later renovated into his own family home.
Cherrilyn was a bit of a beauty in her youth, winning the Miss Whitianga competition each of the three times she entered the beauty pageant. The couple were married in the same church where Ted’s funeral service took place. Later with kids in tow, the family moved to Atiamuri in 1969 where Ted worked at the hydroelectric dam.
Some six years later, Ted became base engineer at Scott Base in Antarctica spending the 1975/76 season there which he always said was one of the highlights of his life. He loved his time there, making special friendships with the small winter-over team.
Back in New Zealand after his return, Ted had a stint working in the EdgecumbeMatata area, later returning to Whitianga where he became involved in the fire brigade and the Mercury Bay Aero Club.
Everyone who gave a tribute at his funeral, spoke of Ted’s genuine desire to help people whenever he could. Tanya said that after working as an electrician, Ted took on the role of Thames Valley Power Board inspector, as well was being a “fix-up man” for many people in the community.
Apart from his dedication to the fire service, Ted was also a keen supporter of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and various other organisations around Whitianga.
Outside of various community service projects, Ted was a keen gardener and fisherman. However, as he was particularly prone to seasickness, he restricted his fishing activities to rock fishing from the shore.
“We all really miss him and it is going to leave a big hole in our lives now that he is no longer here, not just for the family, but for the community as well,” said Tanya.
Pictured is Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade life member, Ted Ramsbotham, was last week laid to rest in the Mercury Bay Cemetery at Ferry Landing.