Raiders from the Sea
By John Lodwick
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John Ridgway
John Robertson

John Ridgway

John Manfield Ridgway
born 8.7.1938
educated Pangbourne Nautical College
Merchant Navy 1955
Royal Engineers (National Service)
RMA Sandhurst (2 years)
3 Bn Parachute Regiment (Lt)
22 SAS (D Squadron) 1967-70 (Captain)
founder,John Ridgway Scool of Adventure,Ardmore
married 1964
I attended a captivating talk around 1967/68, with a slideshow, on Chay Blyth and John Ridgway’s 1966 adventure rowing across the Atlantic. I don’t now remember if it was Blyth or Ridgeway who gave the talk, but I guess it was Blyth, as my research, confirmed here, revealed Ridgway served with D Squadron SAS between 1967 and 1970 and is perhaps less likely to have had the time to give talks. Both men were serving with the Parachute regiment when they departed from Cape Cod on 4th June 1966, in their modified open dory ‘English Rose 111’. They landed 92 days later, at Kilronan on the Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland.

The talk related periods of anguish when they encountered storms and contemplated their location in the middle of the Atlantic, and concern when a large whale was directly under the boat, but revealed one of the worst aspect of the voyage was boils on their bums. The salt water reduced inflammation and dried out the pus, helping to resolve the boils, but such were the rigours of their journey. David Johnstone and John Hoare, who were rowing the Atlantic in their boat ‘Puffin’ at the same time, lost their lives during Hurricane Faith as Ridgway and Blyth stepped ashore in Ireland. Extraordinary men.
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I went to John Ridgway’s School of Adventure, at Ardmore, in 1998. He was 60 that year, a charismatic, big, strong, and very fit man indeed. He and his instructors demanded a great deal of a mixed bunch of mainly middle-class men and women, from urban environments. Virtually everyone had prepared for the week, by months of running and gym work.
On arrival at the loch shore, in our street clothes, we were invited to kayak across the loch to the School, and asked to capsize the kayak, count to five underwater, then swim to shore.
It was the very best activity week of my life: kayaking, rock-climbing, orienteering, and a final overnight trek over the iconic duo of Arkle and Foinavon, ending in the bar of the local hotel.
All the catering and hospitality duties were led by his energetic wife, the incredible and rather beautiful Marie-Christine.

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