Festivities end on a high as boat leaves on its voyage

CROWDS Hundreds turned out for the end of the celebrations. Pictures: Sarah Standing (122254-9685)
CROWDS Hundreds turned out for the end of the celebrations. Pictures: Sarah Standing (122254-9685)

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GREAT Expectations was the theme of this year’s Portsmouth Festivities – and the city delivered perfectly on its promise.

Hundreds of people packed into Gunwharf Quays yesterday to round off the 10-day programme of activities by waving goodbye to Collective Spirit, a unique patchwork boat built as part of the Olympic celebrations.

COLOUR Carnival makes its way round Gunwharf (122254-9757)

COLOUR Carnival makes its way round Gunwharf (122254-9757)

Drums boomed out across Portsmouth Harbour as drummers, dancers and singers took part in a procession to say farewell to the boat.

She was sailed out of the harbour by record-breaking yachtswoman Dee Caffari.

And on land, flags waved high in the sky as people wished the vessel a safe journey.

Organisers of the Portsmouth Festivities have praised the spirit of people who took part in the events this year.

James Priory, the chairman of the Portsmouth Festivities, said: ‘The festivities are about making Portsmouth a destination in its own right.

‘We have had a fantastic 10 days of arts, dancing, theatre, and so much more.

‘We are lucky enough to have the support of organisations right across the city.

‘The theme we chose for this year was Great Expectations and we wanted to include the Olympic expectations and the aspirations of the city.

‘What has been rewarding over the last 10 days is the number of people who have got involved and the number of events we have had.’

The boat Collective Spirit is made up of more than 1,000 pieces of donated wood, including pieces of the Mary Rose.

Standing on the open-air platforms of the Spinnaker Tower, performers waved semaphore flags to spell out the word ‘farewell’ as she set off.

Mike Barham is the skipper of the yacht and he will be taking the boat on a voyage around the country before the Olympic Games.

Mr Barham, 42, from Gosport, said: ‘It has been very exciting and we have had a good time in Portsmouth.

‘We met some of the people who donated wood for the boat which was great.

‘It has been a wonderful feeling being here at the time of the festivities.’

Dee Caffari, who sailed the yacht out of the harbour, was presented with a flag representing Portsmouth for her to fly on her travels.

She said: ‘The crew of Collective Spirit have had a fantastic 10 days in Portsmouth.

‘The support and interest has been outstanding.

‘When the boat leaves Portsmouth she will take on the memories of people here.’

The festivities, which started on June 22, has seen a star-studded programme of talks from famous authors, food festivals and various musical performances.

There have also been workshops for young people to take part in.