WITH a new makeover and fresh lick of red paint, the Pride of Hayling looks ready for her long anticipated relaunch.
Nearly 18 months after closure followed by a persistent and passionate campaign from residents, businesses, the local authority, and even billionaire Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson, the Hayling Ferry is back.
The ferry service between Hayling and Eastney will return next month, with the anticipation of a relaunch event on August 5.
Both the Hayling Ferry and Hayling Ferry Trust Facebook pages announced that next Friday will be the launch date, but official timetables and ticket prices will be released next week.
The Hayling Ferry Trust has reached its target fund to subsidise and support the new owners, Baker Trayte Marine, to run the service for around a year. But the future of the service is not guaranteed, and will depend on how much people use the service.
Trustee member Mark Coates said: ‘It’s a very exciting time, and I hope people come down next Friday to show their support. It’s also important that people regularly use the ferry if we want it to last’
The trust, spearheaded by Hayling councillor Clare Satchwell, formed in June to manage and provide funding to the ferry operators. They have raised over £11,000 from online crowdfunding alone.
This is on top of the £5,000 that was given by Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who is a fan of Hayling Island, having supported the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada Festival.
Director of Virgin Armada Events Dan Charlish said: ‘We have been delighted to be able to play a part in the relaunch of this fantastic and much needed community service.
‘We love hosting events on the island and we want to do everything we can support the community.’
After 30 years’ service the Hayling ferry stopped running in March last year after the former operator went into administration The closure caused dismay for the residents and visitors who relied on the vital link between the islands.
Mr Coates, who wrote to Sir Richard in April, said: ‘I want to say a massive well done to Clare and everyone in the community who has aided the campaign.
‘Thanks also to Sir Richard and the Virgin Armada team for their donation.’
On Wednesday, the boat was seen crossing the Langstone Harbour for a service inspection. Although the boat check was approved, some remaining paperwork needs to be completed.
This pushed the intended re-launch of August 3 to the 5.