Clyde Finale 2010
(or done pursering)
Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst
(Except where stated)
Waverley arrived back at her home berth at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, late on Thursday 14 October 2010 to prepare for her final weekend of
service for 2010. This weekend would also mark the retirement of Purser Jim McFadzean after 23 seasons of service to Waverley and Balmoral.
Saturday 16 October was forecast to be a very nice day and this turned out to be the case, although it was very cold early and late in the voyage. We sailed from Glasgow at 10.00 for Greenock, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and Blairmore for a non-landing cruise to Arrochar, at the head of Loch Long. The small pier at Blairmore was packed and there were over 600 passengers on board for the Loch Long sector.
Note the wreath held by Second Officer John Simm in the colours of the Merchant Navy with the badge of HMS Waverley at the centre
Shortly after the ship had been turned at the head of the loch, there was the fifth wreath laying ceremony of the season to remember the loss of HMS Waverley in 1940.
Throughout the weekend, Jim was assisted by three Assistant Pursers – Simon Morgan, David Edwards and Paul Semple. As there were a number of other past and present Pursers on board, a group photograph was called for!
Back row L to R: Simon Morgan, Paul Semple, Jim McFadzean, David Edwards, Tony Gamblin
Front row Campbell Scott, Gary Stephenson, Scott Adam (Picture by Ashley Gill)
At Blairmore Pier, the Chairman of the Pier Trust presented Purser Jim with a Certificate of Life Membership, a handsome decorated cake, a Blairmore mug and a Blairmore teddy!
At Kilcreggan, Jim said hello on the ship’s PA to “four young ladies” who, it turned out, were neighbours of his 93 year old mother who lives nearby.
Waverley’s ensign was flown at half-mast throughout the weekend as a mark of respect to James Moore, the longest-serving Chairman of Waverley Excursions Limited and an original Waverley volunteer, who had died on 14 October. James had enjoyed his last sail round Ailsa Craig in August.
Back at Greenock, a slightly early arrival caught out the regular rope handlers who drove up just as Waverley’s ropes had been taken ashore by passengers, including Simon’s brother, Robin Morgan. As we disembarked at Pacific Quay just after 19.00, revellers were already queuing for the evening Show Boat cruise.
Wanted by the Fashion Police
Signal flags spell out Jim’s initials
Unfortunately Sunday’s weather was a bit damper and colder but this did not dampen the spirits of those who had come to say goodbye to Jim. These included Captains Ian Clark and Ted Davis who had travelled north specially, as well as many regular passengers and former crew members from all over the country. Promptly at 10.00 Captain O’Brian swung the paddler and set off down river for Greenock, Largs and Rothesay for a cruise round the Isle of Bute. Frequent hot drinks were the order of the day as the mist, rain and sunshine intermingled. Terry Sylvester reminded us of his publicity slogan “On the Clyde you frequently sail out of the rain into the sun” which was true of this day.
At Largs Jim had a big surprise as his mother, brother, sister and partner unexpectedly came on board to be present on this memorable day.
A presentation to Purser Jim took place in a very crowded Jeannie Deans bar at 15.00 just after we had rounded Garroch Head, the most southerly point of Bute. Captain O’Brian and other officers lined up with Jim across the forward end of the bar. Assistant Purser Paul Semple made an excellent speech paying tribute to Jim’s great qualities and contribution to the ships’ cause. In conclusion, he presented Jim a giant cheque for £1,400 contributed by the steamer’s Scottish passengers. Gavin Stewart, Chairman of the PSPS Scottish Branch, added his and the Society’s thanks and marked this with a presentation of a whisky decanter. Finally, Graeme Hogg, Chairman of Waverley Excursions, spoke on behalf of the Company to express everyone’s gratitude for Jim’s sterling service. He also recounted his first meeting with Jim when a diversion of the steamer had left him stranded at Rothesay when he needed to be at Tighnabruaich. On complaining to Jim, he had been given £10 for a taxi – “that will get you home, sir.” The fare was actually £11!
Pat Marron sets about cutting the celebratory cake
While we were below decks, the ship had been turned as restricted visibility and low tide in the Kyles made it unwise to traverse the Narrows. As many of you will know, my wife Jenny knits many of the red, white and black bobble hats sold in the ship’s shop. She had knitted a Special Edition version for Jim with “Done Pursering” knitted into it. This he proceeded to wear at each port on our return voyage, going ashore to say his goodbyes to the pier staff who were left in no doubt it was his last day. The traditional three blasts on the whistle to mark the last call were also given.
On the last leg up river, Eila Handyside presented Jim with an album containing the signatures and messages of the contributors together with a selection of appropriate photographs.
A lone piper played us into Pacific Quay and after securing the ship, Captain O’Brian paid his tribute to Jim over the PA, thanking him on behalf of all the captains and crew members he had sailed with. Captain O’Brian also spoke of the resignation of Chief Engineer Gordon Reid, who was leaving the Company after a long period of service, including acting as Project Manager for Waverley’s Millennium Rebuild of 2000 and 2003.
After end-of-season tidying up the following day, the paddler’s crew attending a special dinner to mark Jim’s retirement in relaxed circumstances.
Waverley’s Directors all contributed to buy Jim an original painting of Tighnabruaich which was duly presented to him by Ian McMillan, Operations Director, at the commencement of the following Thursday’s Board Meeting.