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Guest Stories

You Meet the Most Amazing People on a Cunard Voyage …

June 8, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Guest Stories

Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 486 days

You always meet fascinating people every voyage, and this Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton was no different. I would like to share the stories of just some of the many guests that I had the pleasure of meeting last voyage.

Firstly I met Martha Hufford at the Bloggers meeting and to say she is a QE2 fan is an understatement. She was our third most travelled guest this voyage having sailed over 850 days – quite an achievement, especially as most of them were on QE2. She has now come across to Queen Mary 2 and although she is really enjoying the experience she misses the “Grand Old Lady”.During her many voyages she kept a diary which she now chronicles on her own blog www.linerlady.com

Meanwhile talking of well travelled guests it was great to see Mary Mastony this crossing as she marked 1,654 days on Cunard ships and wasrecognised as the most travelled guest of the crossing at the Cunard World Club Party. She also continued her tradition of entertaining fellow guests at the guest Talent Show on the last day.

At the Cunard World Club Party Commodore Warner always likes to find out which ships guests have travelled on in the past which is always interesting and often includes some surprises. We often hear from guests who have travelled on the Queens and have a get together each voyage for guests who have sailed on Queen Mary. Occasionally we meet guests who have sailed on Cunard Liners in the 30’s and 40’s but it was a treat to meet a gentleman who at the age of three sailed on Berengaria in 1929. I had the pleasure of meeting Proffessor Frank King over a coffee in Sir Samuel’s. It was so fascinating talking to him that I’ll have a Blog dedicated to his story next week – so look out for it then.

Meanwhile as youknow Queen Mary 2 is the only liner offering a regular Transatlantic service and it’s always interesting to meet guests who come on board to enjoy a relaxed and elegant way to cross the Atlantic whether it’s for business, pleasure, relocating or as part of a round the world journey. That was the mission of one guest this week, to make his way round the world without flying. I met Tim Dennis while he celebrated the final leg of his circumnavigation with friends.

His story is also fascinating. At 34, Tim sold his home and bought a customized Toyota Landcruiser with a roof top tent. He partnered with “streetKids International” to drive around the world as an ambassador in a unique collaboration to help young people around the world. He started off from Dalbeattie, Scotland in May 2008 and has so far travelled across Europe, Russia, Asia, North America and Canada. He’ll says he still has a lot of travelling to do with his next project planned for later in the year when he aims to travel to the southern tip of South America. He is passionate about his cause; helping kids around the world, spreading the message of street youth and their needs.

Meanwhile, while he was enjoying the luxury of Queen Mary 2, he told me that he actually never intended to take a Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2; “I enquired about frieghters to take me across the Atlantic and was told that Cunard actually still offer the sheduled service. When I found out that it was better value to travel on Queen Mary 2 than a freighter it was a no brainer”. Here he is on his mission around the world.

Well Tim; it was a pleasure to have you on board and of course we all wish you the best of luck in the future. You can read more about Tim, his travels and the projects he is supporting at www.ramblingrat.com

I met Mr. Pearce at the Commodore’s cocktail party and he asked if I would wish him and his wife a happy Diamond wedding aniversary. Of course I said it would be a pleasure, but wanted to hear more about them and their celebrations. It also turned out that their son had been in contact with Buckingham Palace to arrange delivery of their congratulatory card from Her Majesty, the Queen, directly to Queen Mary 2. So being Cunard we decided to help them celebrate in style with a formal presentation from Commodore Warner on the Bridge. Here they are receiving their specail message:

They are both from Cardiff, Wales, and have known each other since childhood. At the age of 16 he attempted to kiss her in the library of their Chapel but this was not appreciated and she slapped him. She told me, “I thought he had an awful nerve just kissing me like that”. He came back after the war in 1947 and soon they were reunited. The proposal was certainly a little unothordox, when he proposed to her at the local bus stop on the 28th of February. It was a leap year and he said “well I am asking you today because tomorrow is the 29th and then you could propose to anyone else”. They spent their honeymoon in Newquay in Cornwall in the south of England and decided to do something special on their Diamond wedding anniversary. This is their very first voyage and they told me “We have loved every minute of being on Queen Mary 2 which is a very elegant ship; this is fantastic”. Mr Pearce is a past president of the Probus Club and is a retired Chartered Accountant. He has been awarded an MBE, but despite the honour he says; “I have to salute my son because he’s an OBE!” His son is a Wing Commander in the Royal Airforce and is currently the Air Attache in Jordan. Their son is one of five children, who between them have seven grandchildren, the youngest 6 and the oldest is 23.

People are always interested in any couple’s secret to a long marriage, so I had to ask the question. They said they had both agreed long ago that it was not a case of 50/50 but 75/75. What wise words for all of us to live by. To complete the celebration they were invited to blast the ships whistles to mark the time of noon.

Our congratulations again to Mr. and Mrs. Pearce and we hope to see them again sometime soon.

It was also a great pleasure to meet Roy Barraclough who was also travelling on board this voyage for the twelve day round trip. Still living in his native Manchester you may know him better as Alec Gilroy in Coronation Street, the long running British Soap, and for his long partnership with the legendary Les Dawson in the character roles of Cissy and Ada. We met over a drink in the Commodore Club one evening and he introduced me to a “Stablizer”. Yes I didn’t know that one either; it’s Port and Brandy and alledgedly very good for dealing with the motion of the ocean. It was actually a very smotth crossing but he said “it’s a tradition now so I have one every evening when I’m on board – regardless!” His first time ever on a ship was for the episode of Coronation Street when a storyline took the characters from the street on QE2 for a voyage. Playing the character of Entertainment Director, he said “I have to admit I was somewhat aprehensive about the experience but I ended up loving it and have been coming back ever since”. He has become a regular guest on QE2, Caronia and now Queen Mary 2 and has also presented lectures on board, but this visit was purely for a holiday.

As we chatted he told me his partnership with Les Dawson began by accident, when he was working for Yorkshire Television and stood in for an actor who dropped out at the last minute. Roy seized the opportunity and said “we had an instant rapport”. It was some time later, when Les and Roy were chatting in between takes, that the characters of Cissy and Ada, that were to become household names, were created. The rest as they say is history. He is still working hard and is looking forward to being back in Southampton later in the year when he stars in the Christmas Show.

I hope you enjoyed this very special blog and of course I’ll be back on Thursday I have lots coming up including a day in the life of Queen Mary 2’s latest “Star of the Month”. Remy is the ship’s tailor and she’ll be telling us her story as well as some breaking news on Queen Elizabeth. Until then please keep logging on and posting your comments. Cheers Alastair

  1. Paul Weighill says:

    Hi Alistair
    Great blog as always. but missed the Cunard History.
    traveling on QM2 on the 13th June along with 2 other former QE2 crew hope to meet you then.


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