Alfie’s poignant final crossing on his ferry

The coffin of  Alf Newman is carried by former crewmates on to the Gosport Queen as the retired ferry captain makes the short journey for the last time
The coffin of Alf Newman is carried by former crewmates on to the Gosport Queen as the retired ferry captain makes the short journey for the last time

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FLANKED by a pair of harbour tugs as a guard of honour, Alf Newman’s body took its last journey on the ferry he used to captain.

With one of the tugs spraying a jet of water high into the air, about 30 of Alf’s family and close friends travelled from Gosport to Portsmouth on the Gosport Queen with his coffin.

Alf Newman's cap

Alf Newman's cap

Alf, from Emsworth, but born in Gosport, had worked for the Gosport Ferry Company for 55 years, only fully retiring last December aged 77 when his fight with cancer became too much.

In tribute to Alf’s long service, and as a measure of the esteem he was held in, Gosport Ferry Company worked with Searsons the undertakers to arrange a dedicated crossing of the ferry yesterday, just for the funeral party.

Everyone on the ferry was given a commemorative ticket to mark the journey, dubbed The Farewell Crossing.

And when the ferry arrived on the Portsmouth side, an adapted version of Psalm 23 for seafarers, beginning: ‘The Lord is my pilot, I shall not drift’, was read before the coffin disembarked.

Even strangers stopped as the mourners came out of Portsmouth Harbour train station as the coffin was taken to the waiting hearse.

They then headed to the funeral at St Thomas a Becket Church in Warblington.

Reverend Canon Arthur Dean leading the service, paid tribute to Alf’s ‘positive outlook on life, his sheer grit and determination to fight the disease that extended his life beyond the expectations of the medical profession.’

Speaking about his friend and colleague in the service, Graham Phillips delivered a eulogy full of memories of Alf.

He said: ‘If I had to describe him in four adjectives, they would be loyal, professional, humorous and kind.

‘His 55 years service was a truly tremendous, and I believe, unequalled achievement in the history of the company.’

Alf retired as a ferry captain in 1999 aged 65, but carried on working on the boats in the maintenance yard.

Mr Phillips recalled how Alf had nicknames for everyone.

He was the self-described president of the ‘exclusive’ Gosport Ferry Bilge Rats, and his fondness for covering everything in paint, or ‘crab fat,’ as he called it, was recalled.

He added: ‘He was a one-off.

‘He touched the lives of so many people for the good.

‘Thank you Alfie for so much, but above all, just for being you. You were an inspiration to us all.’

Alf died on March 14 leaving his widow Maggie, three children, Sally-Ann, Marcia and Brian, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.