Obituary: Ron Blake
It is with great regret that I have just been informed of the passing of Ron Blake. Ron was a great friend of many of the earlier members and myself. This news fills us all with great sadness.
Ron joined Hounslow Branch in the late 1950’s and later transferred to our branch in 1961 with his wife Linden. In 1965 both Ron and Linden sat and passed their first class divers exam with Ron achieving such a high mark he later went on to set and mark all the first class diver exams for the whole of the BSAC.
Ron was an exceptionally calm and competent diver, as was proven by a trip off the coast of Tunisia, on an expedition organised by Reg Valentine (last year’s Guest of Honour at our 50th Dinner Dance) Ron went into a cave and when trying to exit, previous divers had kicked up the silt and he could not see his way out. He was trapped in there for 20 minutes, until he breathed the air out of his cylinders. He then had the presence of mind to calmly breathe the air in his Fenzy life jacket cylinder, which gave him approximately two minutes of breathing time, at the same time with the aid of his knife he knocked the back of his cylinder which enabled Reg to enter the cave with a rope just before Ron slipped into unconsciousness. For those that remember the early design of that jacket they will appreciate how difficult it would have been to breathe from it, particularly under a stressful situation.
During the 60′, 70’s and early 80’s GPS or Decca navigators were virtually unheard of on Dive boats, therefore the only way we could locate wrecks was by transit bearings. Ron had exceptional navigation skills which he had learnt in his younger days as an RAF navigator, and putting these skills to use, he soon became quite famous amongst all of the dive boatmen for navigating and finding new wrecks with the aid of his sexton, stop watch & compass ﾐ so you will not find it a surprise that we knew Ron affectionally as Sexton Blake.
Many members will have dived the wreck of the Kyarra, and Ron was the first person to discover and dive this wreck and it has since become one of the most dived wrecks in the UK.
Ron went on to become our club chairman and just before his retirement he hand built a 50 ft catamaran in his back garden in Weybridge and I can still remember to this day the amazement from his neighbours as he craned the boat hulls over his house onto a waiting low loader to be shipped to the Channel to complete the works. Within six months he completed the boat, which was named “Four Hands” (i.e. his & Linden’s 2 pairs of hands). He then retired down to Cornwall where he continued to sail his boat until very recently.
I, personally, along with many of Ron’s old friends were exceptionally honoured that he came to our Dinner & Dance last year when he helped us to celebrate our 50th anniversary. He will be sadly missed.