Pirate fun at Blue Reef Aquarium in support of Pompey cancer patient

SWASHBUCKLING Pirate weekend for Craig Bryden, who has terminal cancer    Picture: Allan Hutchings (060511-012)
SWASHBUCKLING Pirate weekend for Craig Bryden, who has terminal cancer Picture: Allan Hutchings (060511-012)

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An aquarium will be overrun with pirates this weekend as part of a fundraising event.

Staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium, in Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, will be dressed up as pirates to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Research.

They have been inspired to hold two days of swashbuckling activities to show their support for navy veteran and newly-nicknamed Pompey Pirate Craig Bryden, who has terminal cancer.

As part of the event, any children arriving in full pirate fancy dress over the weekend will also get in for free.

Blue Reef’s Hannah Butt, who helped to organise the event, said: ‘Craig’s attitude is simply inspirational and really helps put everything else into perspective.

‘We are so pleased to be able to show our support for such a courageous person and we’re looking forward to collecting lots of donations.’

Craig, who lives in Copnor, caused a sensation on the internet after a photo of him attending his first chemotherapy session in full pirate dress was posted on Facebook by a fellow bus passenger.

Originally from Kilmarnock in Scotland, the 56-year-old plasterer and decorator spent 20 years in the navy, and survived 
the sinking of HMS Sheffield in the Falklands.

Since the photo of him in fancy dress was posted, it has been shared thousands of times online, even leading him to being Portsmouth FC’s mascot at their home game against Plymouth tomorrow.

Staff at the aquarium decided to get involved when they heard about Craig’s story.

Over the weekend there will be face painting, guess the chocolate coins in the jar and staff will be selling food to feed the stingrays.

Visitors will also be able to guess the name of one of the sharks and make donations.

Craig is planning to attend the fundraising event in person – dressed as a pirate.

He said: ‘I am so grateful for what the aquarium is doing in raising money for Macmillan Cancer Research and I think it is a brilliant idea.’