Anne Ebbage

1927 - 2017

Anne with Tess


Anne Ebbage, wife of East Anglian Cruising Club founder member Billy Ebbage, sadly died on October 20th this year. She celebrated her 90th birthday on August 24th, sailing aboard her son Nicholas’ river cruiser Bessie Bell from Coldham Hall, with her two children and five grandchildren. Just two months later she died at her home of over 60 years in Thorpe St Andrew with her family and dogs around her, and was appropriately toasted with her favourite sherry.

Anne’s 90th birthday trip on Bessie Bell shows Anne on left, with (left going clockwise) grandson William, daughter Rosalind, son Nicholas’ children Pippa and Jack, his wife Jo, Rosalind’s husband John, Tess, the Bessie Bell dog, and grandson Alan.


An honorary member of EACC, Anne was born Annette Stanmore Boorman. She came to Norwich from Essex in 1949 to take up her first job as a teacher at Norwich High School, specialising in English, poetry, drama and handwork. She formed a firm friendship with a fellow teacher, Clare Becher, and as well as cycling around churches and acting at the Maddermarket Theatre, they decided to learn to sail and bought a Norfolk dinghy, Donald Duck no 54. However, they soon discovered it wasn’t as easy as it looked and that some lessons were called for. Anne asked her pupils whether any of them knew somebody who might teach them. “I do”, said one pupil, “My Uncle Bill will teach you”. This offer was to seal Anne’s future as Bill just happened to have a beautiful, sleek, highly varnished river cruiser called Buccaneer.  She and Clare decided that one of them should marry Bill –it didn’t matter who as long as one of them did – as then they would get a bigger boat instead of only half a dinghy! It turned out to be Anne, and though Bill failed miserably to teach either of the girls to sail he gained a wife and crew! The only piece of advice regarding Anne her father gave his new son-in-law was “Can be led, can’t be driven”!


With Bill heavily involved in the sailing world Anne was quickly absorbed into the Norfolk sailing fraternity and their wedding was arranged to fit into the regatta calendar! The reception was held at The Swan Inn, Horning on 30th July1955 and their honeymoon was spent on Buccaneer as they sailed off to the next regatta!

Nothing got in the way of their sailing. They moved to Thorpe St. Andrew, chosen for ease of access to the Broads, and the family expanded with the birth of Rosalind.  However they didn’t let the new arrival curtail their sailing, with the Buccaneer baby going sailing at four weeks and racing at six weeks – which necessitated Bill’s crew to disappear into the cabin during the race to feed the cabin crew kid.  Three years later the second crew member, Nicholas, was produced.


One of Anne’s fondest memories was when Bill capsized Buccaneer during a race. He was late leaving his mooring as he had been helping others to reef but didn't have time to reef his own sail!  As the boat went over Anne is quoted as saying "Oh Bill, at last!" She had no idea of the difference between a dinghy capsize when a bit of weight on the keel gets you up and sailing again and a river cruiser capsize where a wherry had to be brought in to raise her! Anne was quickly rescued but felt she hadn't had enough shipwrecked time so dived back in to retrieve oddments that were floating round the cabin.


Anne was a keen member of EACC but was in a support role while Bill was Skipper, serving on the committee and timekeeping at regattas.Together they won their share of trophies, among them the Filibuster Cup in 1968.


 “As children, Nick and I spent many happy weekends on the boat both sailing and  running up and down Oby dyke in our exceedingly uncomfortable orange life jackets”  recalls Rosalind. “Dad was often tied up with duties on the line so his club racing was curtailed. He could work out handicaps in his head faster than anyone with a calculator!” Nicholas adds: “Mother was as enthusiastic and inventive a mother as she had been a teacher, prioritising play over housework and looking at life with child’s eyes.  In fact when a guest commented that Rosalind was a good helper when making the bed, Rosalind replied “Yes, I am, because Mummy just dances around in a childish fashion!”

Bill and Anne on their launch Peggotty which replaced Avanti


In 1975 Bill suffered a heart attack from which he made a full recovery.  About 1982 they bought the black bungalow opposite Thurne mill and spent most of the summer months living there. Later they sold it and bought the white bungalow next door with a superb dyke for Buccaneer and their motor launch Avanti,so named due to her propensity for jumping into forward gear from neutral and heading off! They both loved their alternative lifestyle in which formality was forgotten and people on boats just dropped in.


Anne and daughter Rosalind with first grandchild Alan, plus Sirius and Toby, the dogs, at their bungalow at Thurne.


Sadly Bill had another heart attack and died in 1991. Anne continued to serve briefly on the committee with responsibility for meeting and greeting at social events, particularly making new members feel welcome.


She sold Buccaneer followed by the bungalow a few years later as her arthritis and lifelong inability to drive made it too difficult for her to get there on her own. However, she joined various groups including the U3A, starting a poetry and prose group herself. “In fact her social life became so full that we had to “book in” well in advance to arrange any family events!” says Nicholas.


Anne was delighted when her five grandchildren came along within the space of five years.

This, however, put her in somewhat of a quandary.  She did not wish to be called Nanny or Granny, so she became known as Batty!


Anne’s funeral was held at St Faith’s crematorium on November 21st, and two of her first pupils from 1949 were among the congregation.


Hilary Franzen

Rosalind Middleton

Nicholas Ebbage