Portsmouth harbour tug boat captain honoured with tugboat escort in a special ceremony to commit his ashes to the Solent
FOR more than 40 years, Alan Weeks patrolled Portsmouth harbour as a much-loved and much-respected tug boat captain – and one final voyage has seen his ashes committed to the harbour he dedicated his life to serving.
The 72-year-old died in his family home in North End on February 9, 2020, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
After 18 months of Covid restrictions, his loved ones have finally been able to enact one of his last wishes, which saw his ashes taken by a tug boat to be scattered across the waves of the Solent this morning.
Almost 40 friends and family members came onboard to pay their respects to the great-grandfather of four – testament to the love and admiration felt for the long-standing member of the harbour community, according to Alan’s son Paul.
As friends and family members cast dozens of roses onto the water, Paul said: ‘It is a lovely tribute. I think it’s absolutely amazing and shows how like he was as a man and loved as a father. It’s what he deserves.’
Alan’s daughter, Janet Weeks, added: ‘I hope people remember him as a funny and lovable man, who loved to laugh.’
The ceremony follows a life on the waters of the Solent for Captain Alan, who began his career working on ferries to the Isle of Wight in the 1950s, before joining the Merchant Navy, and then joining the Serco-operated tug boat fleet that services the Royal Navy.
It was this final role that saw him ferry Royal Navy crew members and escort US Navy carriers, while making friends for life.
Among them is Peter Kennedy, a fellow tugboat crew member and friend for more than 30 years, who said Alan brought ‘a passion and a unique talent’ to his harbour role.
Delivering a eulogy for his friend, Peter said: ‘I am sure him-up-there, if he needs the Ark moving, Alan will be in bow.’
He added: ‘Alan was a fantastic ship handler.
‘Most of the people in the job stay for 40 years – we have got people who have stayed for 50 years. It was a really close community.’
Alan remained a ‘confident crew member’ throughout his career as tug boats underwent huge changes, according to long-standing colleague Adrian ‘Tiggy’ Gould.
He said: ‘There used to be crews of 30 – now you have crews of about six.
‘But it’s like a family. There were a lot of father and son teams.
‘There’s a lot of pride in the work.’
He added: ‘This is a special tribute to Alan – we don’t do this often.’
Alan is survived by his wife, Diane, his two children, his four grand-children, and his four great-grandchildren.
Retiring just over a decade ago, the tug boat captain spent his retirement in his element – surrounded by his family and the waves of the Solent as a member of the Portsmouth Harbour Cruising Club.