It’s a long tradition to christen a vessel before launch – and champagne flowed as The Hayling Ferry officially re-launched yesterday.
Honorary guest Wayne Sleep and mayor of Havant Faith Ponsonby cut the ribbon to declare the Pride of Hayling back in business.
They were among the first on board for the ferry’s ceremonial return trip to Portsmouth.
Crowds gathered as pyrotechnics were set off to mark the occasion and the Police Cadet’s Guard of Honour stood to attention as passengers alighted.
Dancing legend Mr Sleep, who has friends in Hayling, said: ‘It’s been a great day. It’s fantastic how strong the community spirit is and how everyone came together to support the campaign to get the ferry running again.’
Celebrations continued at the Ferryboat Inn in Ferry Road, Hayling Island, with free activities, including live music from Havant singer Chloe Anne, face painting and photo opportunities with Portsmouth FC’s mascot Nelson and former player Alan Knight. Mr Sleep and the Cllr Ponsonby also unveiled a new defibrillator at The Ferryboat Inn.
The ferry service was ran all day but was officially reopened at the afternoon’s launch event.
Owner Tim Trayte was overjoyed at today’s turnout and said the vessel had reached maximum allowance on several crossings.
He said: ‘It’s been busy all day, and it is incredible to see so many people turn up today. Hopefully people will continue to use it.’
As the Pride of Hayling made her first formal trip across to Portsmouth, a plaque was unveiled and dedicated to Pete Wiggins’s late wife Sammy. The pair would regularly get the ferry across to the city, and were instrumental in the campaign.
For Hayling councillor Andrew Lenaghan, the day sparked nostalgia, after he spoke about how he got the ferry across to Portsmouth for his first job interview 55 years ago.
He said: ‘It brings back so many memories.’
Jubilant passenger Carole Dalingwater, of Havant, said: ‘I regularly cycle to Portsmouth and had always got the ferry back so it’s fantastic that it has returned.’
She added: ‘We have to use it or we lose it.’