TOSSING A wreath into the Solent, Lord Mayor Cheryl Buggy paid her respects to the countless men and women who have lost their lives at sea.
It was the climax of the annual service of remembrance for seafarers, which saw more than 200 people gather at Portsmouth Cathedral yesterday.
The Lord Mayor spoke of her pride to live on an island city, her respect for the power of the ocean and how we should never forget those who had died in waters around the world.
Senior officers from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines attended the service, as well as members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Mayors of Fareham, Gosport and Havant.
People of all ages and from all backgrounds came to sing hymns, aided by the superb choir of St Peter’s Church, Petersfield, as the cathedral’s choristers are away in Berlin.
The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Reverend David Brindley, spoke of the immense power of the sea.
He told the congregation: ‘It’s possible to recognise the RNLI as a metaphor for life at sea. For they are principally about saving people.
‘Saving people from all sorts of things, from serious disasters at sea, sometimes stupidity – paddling across to the Isle of Wight on an airbed I believe someone did last year.’
Prayers were said for all people on the seas today by representatives of the RNLI and Sea Cadets.
Heads were held high as the service came to a close with the National Anthem.
The dignitaries and congregation then moved to the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson, perhaps the nation’s greatest seafaring hero who died at sea during the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805.
The Lord Mayor and the other mayors laid wreaths in recognition of his bravery.
Hundreds gathered near The Round Tower as Cllr Buggy, who herself is a keen sailor, tossed the wreath into the sea.
She told The News: ‘It’s about people showing respect, saying thank you and hoping people who go on the sea today are safe.
‘It’s one of the most important civic events we have. We are a seafaring nation and a seafaring city. Some of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life have been out on the sea.
‘It’s been the time I have been most terrified when the sea has been angry. It makes you realise how unbelievably insignificant you are.’
Cllr Ken Smith, Mayor of Havant, added: ‘It’s been an honour. I felt quite moved actually.’
A collection was held for the RNLI. After the service there was a grand parade of the Sea Cadets’ band.