Ryan was living his dream until cancer made life a nightmare

A fund for the RNLI in memory of volunteer Ryan Davidson has raised more than £30,000.

Ryan was living his dream until cancer made life a nightmare Thurso RNLI
Ryan Davidson onboard Thurso Severn class Lifeboat The Taylors.

The family of a lifeboat volunteer who lost a five-month battle with cancer have been “overwhelmed” by donations to a fund in his memory.

Ryan Davidson, from Thurso, died aged just 25 on March 20 after a shock Burkitt Lymphoma diagnosis in October last year.

The 25-year-old was engaged to be married next year but died leaving behind his fiancee Nicola McTurk and her two children, Lucy and Dylan.

Ryan’s dad Kevin Davidson, an ambulance technician and firefighter with the Dounreay Fire and Ambulance Service, said: “I come from a background of seeing trauma through my jobs, but nothing prepares you for when it is your own son.”

Ryan and Nicola McTurk during their engagement August 2020.STV
Ryan and Nicola McTurk during their engagement August 2020.

Two years ago, Ryan gave up his job as a joiner to become a fisherman. He was given a trial on the Boy Andrew, where he excelled and loved life at sea.

His dad said it was where he was destined to be, telling STV News: “Ryan used to say he was living the dream.

“His diagnosis in October was completely out of the blue. He was complaining of a sore stomach, nothing much and just went to A&E.

“He had a large tumour in his stomach. His condition was called sporadic Burkitt Lymphoma, a blood cancer. It was absolutely devastating.”

“Covid has haunted me throughout this whole journey, haunted Ryan and the whole family because of restrictions.”

Kevin Davidson, Ryan’s dad

In children and young adults, the outlook is usually positive with intense treatment capable of curing the cancer. But despite being fit and healthy, Ryan’s cancer was too aggressive.

He underwent six rounds of chemotherapy in three months.

His dad said: “Ryan fought a hard battle, right up until the start of March, and then he was told he was going into palliative care.

“Unfortunately, Covid has haunted me throughout this whole journey, haunted Ryan and the whole family because of restrictions.”

Ryan with his English bulldog Winston.STV
Ryan with his English bulldog Winston.

While Ryan was in intensive care for seven weeks, his dad could only see him for an hour a day. When coronavirus cases spiked over Christmas, he was only allowed to see him for an hour once a week.

“I know I was very lucky, there were people not seeing their loved ones in cares homes at all,” Mr Davidson said.

He said he will miss his “happy go lucky” son who had joined him and his elder brother as Thurso RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) volunteers five years ago.

Mr Davidson said: “I was very proud when they joined. Ryan was a very generous boy. He had been saving up and instead of presents he wanted his half of the wedding fund to go to Thurso RNLI.”

On Friday, March 26, friends, family, crew members from the Boy Andrew and Thurso, Wick and Longhope RNLI joined personnel from the coastguard and Scottish Ambulance Service at Scrabster harbour to pay their respects as Ryan’s funeral cortege passed.

In Thurso, fire service personnel lined the streets as Ryan’s hearse drove to the cemetery where he was laid to rest.

Ryan leaves behind his father and his partner Karen Munro, his mother Samantha Mackay and her husband Jock, his fiancee Nicola McTurk and her children Lucy and Dylan, and his brothers Lewis, Murray and Scott.

A fundraiser in Ryan’s name with donations going to Thurso Lifeboat and Fishermen’s Mission has raised over £30,000.

Mr Davidson said: “It’s quite overwhelmingly emotional and unbelievable to be quite honest.”