HE GAVE more than 50 years’ service to Gosport ferries.
And on Friday, Alf Newman’s body will take one last trip across the water on the way to his funeral.
Like his father and grandfather before him, former Gosport ferry skipper Alf made sure people were safely transported across Portsmouth Harbour.
He retired in 1999 but continued working with the boats, helping maintain them, until his battle with cancer forced him to quit last December. He died on March 14.
Using a relief boat – hopefully The Gosport Queen, which Alf used to captain – his coffin will be carried from the Gosport side along with his family at about 11am. They will be met at Portsmouth by the funeral procession which will head to Warblington, where the 77-year-old will be laid to rest.
Daughter Sally-Ann Toomer, from Sunnymead Drive in Waterlooville, said: ‘He was such a courageous man. He fought the cancer so bravely and determinedly and that’s why this is such a fitting tribute. I think it was working on the boats that kept him going – they were his life.
‘It was the funeral director’s idea, and they’ve been absolutely wonderful.
‘It’s going to be like a state funeral and it’s nothing less than he deserves. That length of service is something that’s never been matched with them before.’
Alf, from Emsworth, started with the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch and Towing Company as a mate in 1956. He soon rose through the ranks to work as a stoker in the engine room, before becoming a driver and finally a skipper.
Chris Waters, finance director of Gosport Ferry Company, said: ‘Alf was a well-loved and respected member of the company, always prepared to lend a hand and share a story.
‘He will be greatly missed by the company and his colleagues old and new.’
He leaves his widow Maggie, and two other children, Marcia and Brian.
The crossing is not expected to disrupt regular ferry services.