Local Community News


Captain Jim Blanch and Ellis Yeats on the Bridge of St Cecilia

8-year-old Ellis Yeats was VIP for the day when Wightlink’s oldest ship St Cecilia sailed across the Solent for the last time on Friday.

The youngster from Gosport is Wightlink’s greatest fan. He lives life to the full despite undergoing several operations for the brain condition – Chiari malformation. While he enjoys watching all the ships pass through Portsmouth Harbour with his Mum, Emily, his favourite is St Cecilia.

When Wightlink decided it was time for the 32-year-old ferry to retire from the fleet, thoughtful staff wanted to break the news gently and invited Ellis and Emily to join the celebrations for the last crossing.

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Sporting an authentic Captain’s hat and sweater donated by Wightlink, Ellis helped Captain Jim Blanch steer the ship, cut a celebratory cake and read out a poem he had written about St Cecilia.

Ellis said:

“I had the most amazing day on board the glorious St Cecilia and I was so astonished at all the wonderful things I was able to do. Wightlink has been so good to me and I felt like a proper VIP. I will remember the day always. Thank you Wightlink, you rock!”

Wightlink Operations Director Daryl Palmer says:

“Young Ellis has captured the hearts of everyone at the company and we were delighted to welcome him on board for this special day. We have already introduced him to our new flagship Victoria of Wight and hope he will enjoy sailing to and from the Isle of Wight on her in future.”

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St Cecilia will soon join her sisters, the former St Catherine and St Helen, at the Italian ferry company Delcomar which connects Sardinia with 2 offshore islands.

Island Echo live streamed the departing of St Cecilia from Fishbourne. Catch up below…

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