St Andrews ‘Samaritan’ aids ‘quake couple

Lucy and Scott Ritchie of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Lucy and Scott Ritchie of Christchurch, New Zealand.

A COUPLE hit by February’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch are heading for a longed-for break in the Home of Golf thanks to the St Andrews Citizen and a local Good Samaritan.

As reported recently, self-employed golf course surveyor and designer, Scott Ritchie, and his wife, Lucy, considered themselves lucky compared to others in the New Zealand city as they escaped with their lives.

However, as Lucy lost her job when the restaurant where she worked as maitre d’ was hit by the devastating earthquake, they decided this might be the time to fulfil a long-held ambition to spend a summer staying, playing and working in St Andrews.

The couple contacted website St Andrews News for help in finding accommodation. Web publisher Rosemary Dewar passed their story to the Citizen and, on the Friday the paper hit the streets, it set off some amazing coincidences.

Jackie Robertson, who took over The Barns hotel at Kingsbarns last October, was reading the paper and enjoying a cup of coffee as she filled out forms to advertise for staff when she saw the article.

She told the Citizen: “I just thought ‘maybe I could help these people and they could help me!’

‘‘They looked a nice couple and we have since spoken on the telephone and exchanged emails sorting out the details.

“Lucy said there were a lot of people much worse off than them and was concerned people might think she and Scott were trying to get something for nothing. I explained that it just so happened that I read about her when I was looking for someone to work for me so they are helping me too.

‘‘We’ve agreed Lucy will do a few shifts in the hotel for their keep and I am turning over one of my four double rooms to them for the whole time they are here. They are due to arrive in mid-May.

“Some of the caddies who come into the hotel are from New Zealand and are already looking forward to fixing Scott up with some good golf.

“I just think this is the ideal location for them, given that they are both golfers. Scott is keen to come over and just play golf and has already booked himself a championship in June or July. Lucy wants to golf a lot while she’s here too.”

In a further bizarre twist, it turns out that a Kiwi friend of the couple, who has only just started work at Kingsbarns Golf Course, saw the picture of his friends from home when he opened his copy of the Citizen.

And another Citizen reader, Jane Freer of St Andrews, also responded quickly to the article, offering to share her flat in the town with the couple. Lucy has since contacted her to thank her for her generous offer.

In an email to St Andrews News this week, Lucy said: “I would like to thank you, for your act of kindness and fulfilling our dream.

‘‘Jackie and Garry from the Kingsbarns hotel saw your article on us, replied to it and we’re heading your way the middle of next month!

‘‘It’s a small world. A greenkeeper we know from down south here in NZ moved to Kingsbarns just a fortnight ago to work the summer - only to open the local paper to see two familiar faces!”