May 24, 2012
Posted in: Forever Cunard
Hello all, this week saw another very special day in the history of Cunard Line. A much loved and respected Hotel Manager, John Duffy retired after almost 47 years of service at Cunard Line. John is known and admired by many thousands of our guests and has worked alongside many thousands of colleagues. He has served as Hotel Manager on the two most famous Ocean Liners in the World – Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2. So it was important for us to see John off in some style.
On the last voyage, his colleagues on board organised two events. The first – a tradition – was a farewell to John in the Crew Mess in front of the ship’s company. The second was an event for all his senior officers held in the Atlantic Room. It was an opportunity for all of his colleagues to bid a fond farewell to John.
Then in Southampton it was the day itself for John’s retirement. We gathered in the Golden Lion – present were a number of the Senior Officers on board and many colleagues from our Office ashore who have worked with John for many years. I thought I would share with you the brief speech that I gave:
On the occasion of your retirement from Cunard Line on the 22nd May 2012, all of us at Cunard pay tribute to your remarkable 46 years of service.
Throughout your career, you have been a credit to Cunard Line. The way in which you have looked after our guests has been a shining example to all of those who have had the pleasure of working with you. You have touched the lives of many thousands of guests and many thousands of colleagues.
You have shown tremendous leadership and rightly have served in a position of leadership on the most famous ocean liners in the world – notably on QE2 and Queen Mary 2.
On behalf of all of us at Cunard Line, thank you so much for all that you have contributed in your time with us – you will be missed but your spirit will live on amongst our guests and crew for years to come.
By way of a thank you – we would like you to take a round trip Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2. But this time John you will experience the voyage as a guest – and we would like you to be accompanied both by your wife and son with our compliments.
I wish you all the best for a long, healthy and happy retirement – and please do make sure you stay in touch.
In addition to inviting John to sail with Cunard on a Transatlantic Crossing, I presented him with my personal gift which was a framed, signed picture of the QE2 sailing into New York with the twin towers in the background and Concorde flying above. I mentioned that John had outlived those three famous icons, which in itself is quite some achievement.
Frank Prowse, our Senior HR Manager then read out a rather poetic ‘Ode to JD’:
John Duffy is a legend within Cunard
For 47 years he’s worked so hard
Sailing the seas with many thousands of guests
Always a professional dealing with their requests
Through Cunard’s many changes he’s remained so calm
Dealing with it all with knowledge, experience and charm
Among his greatest achievements were the years on QE2
That ship was an icon and he is too!
No one more deserves a well-earned rest
John, we’ll all miss you – you are the best!
We had one last surprise for John – after all he had asked me personally “not to make any fuss at all” for his retirement. Some chance of that, when someone has 47 years of service we absolutely have to do the right thing in a respectful and emotional send off.
So we asked the crew to line the decks up on Deck 7. All the Senior Officers stood to attention on the dockside and other colleagues and friends stood on the gangway. Many of you will know that John hails from Liverpool and in fact one of the things he can look forward to in retirement is an Everton Football Club season ticket. As John came out onto the gangway we played “Ferry Across the Mersey” and as he walked down the gangway the wonderful Queen Mary 2 whistle was sounded three times.
Many handshakes and then John found his way into the Mercedes Limousine that we had organised to take him home. One last Cunard touch – after 47 years we felt he deserved a very cold Gin and Tonic. And sure enough our Hotel Manager Robbie Howie passed John his Gin and Tonic as he sat in the back of the car. As the car drove off with the Queen Mary 2 whistle much in evidence John held his glass up to the window and the last words we heard him say were “Now that’s what I call White Star Service”…..
John – many thanks for a wonderful career at Cunard Line and I am sure many of our guests and colleagues wish you every success in a long, healthy and happy retirement.