A MAN who has dedicated the last 30 years to helping people start their holiday has cut the ribbon to launch a new ferry service.
Roger Pratt made the cut to launch Brittany Ferries’ new high speed route between Portsmouth and Le Havre.
It will operate four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday, until September 16. At other times the Normandie Express will serve the Portsmouth to Cherbourg route.
Brittany Ferries has never run a route to Le Havre, and it was historically formerly served by P&O and then later by LD Lines – now called DFDS – which continues to operate the route once a day.
But the Normandie Express is not new to Brittany Ferries – it served the Portsmouth to Caen route until last August.
Roger, who was accompanied by Brittany Ferries mascot Pierre Bear, Normandie Express captain Hervé de Kergariou, and Mark Willcox, Portsmouth International Port’s business manager, said: ‘It was nice to be asked to cut the ribbon, it’s a privilege.’
Roger was born in the Portsmouth area and joined Brittany Ferries as a marshall from an engineering job at Kenwood in Havant.
Roger was promoted to the position of Quay Supervisor 1984, leading a team of marshals and subsequently to Duty Operations Manager – the position he holds today – in 1988.
Standing by the side of berth one, which was one of two berths the port had when it opened in 1976, Roger added: ‘I’ve spent 30 good years here.
‘There are a lot of good people here, not just working for Brittany Ferries, but in the port too.’
Mike Bevens, Brittany Ferries’ group commercial director, said the Normandie Express service replaces the high-speed service axed by LD Lines two years ago.
He added: ‘We know the demand is there. We want to fill that void and offer our customers a different crossing.’
With a journey time of three hours and 45 minutes to Le Havre, Mr Bevens said the crossing was ideal for French passengers wanting to visit London, as well as British passengers looking to holiday in Paris or eastern France.
And he added: ‘It’s always nice to get the Normandie Express into service because it means our peak season is just around the corner.’
The new route brings the total number provided by Brittany Ferries between the UK and France to six – more than any other ferry company.