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  • Sue Lowday

Hovertravel VIP Trip

Updated: Apr 5

I was very excited to be invited to a special trip on the 12000TD Hovercraft this morning.

After an early rise, I met with around 15 guests from the Isle of Wight ready to board a very special trip on a hovercraft. Ian Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens and I were invited to the event due to being part of an exceptional and unusual trip that Hovertravel is organising during the Spring and Winter Isle of Wight Walking Festivals.

The trips will run from the Hoverport in Southsea, travelling to Ryde, where a vintage bus will carry up to 40 people to visit Bonchurch to celebrate 175 years since Charles Dickens and his family spent their summer holidays at Winterbourne in Bonchurch.

Ian Dickens will talk about Charles Dickens' story with readings during the journeys on the bus while I will take my guided illustrated talk around the village for up to 20 people.

20 additional guests will have the opportunity to walk around the village for two hours solo with a walking map of the village.

Hovertravel's delightful invitation today celebrated the joys of travelling by hovercraft, the journey across to Southsea is so quick! 15 more guests joined the crossing, including the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr. Tom Coles wearing his special chain of office. He had three guests from Japan Portsmouth's sister city, Maizuru.  They included: Mr. KAMODA, Mayor of Maizuru, Mr. UEBA, Chairman of Maizuru City Council, Mr. KOJIMA General Director of the Industrial Promotion Department and Mr. NAKAYAMA, Director of Port Promotion and International Relations Division. All were on board to enjoy the ride along with Carol Clark from the Lord Mayor's Office.

Ian and I were invited to the event by Helen McNeill, the Events and Experience Coordinator, who you may have spotted in photos of the preview at Dimbola's Technicolour Dickens exhibition. She was in full period costume Miss Havisham style. Helen is a trustee of the magnificent island-based charity 'Isle Access'. One of the first people to say hello was Jan Brookes. Jan single-handedly started the charity and does magnificent work to enable access to everyone to island-based places including the beaches! She tells me she is looking for a patron-

so do get in touch with her

I also met the owners of Luccombe Manor Hotel, and all I had to say was "Beans" to find a connection. Sheffield-based friend Jackie Knight, her sister-in-law and her niece own a beautiful dog called Beans who is in the hotel's glorious promotional films on the hotel's website. He does like a sausage and will happily skateboard given his treat.


The hovercraft zipped off to no man's land, around the fort in the middle of the Solent travelling at speed. The hovercraft circumvented the fort and then whizzed off to the right where the craft performed several doughnuts (revolving on the spot). The craft also deflated its skirts and travelled backwards before returning to shore and a photo opportunity.

I was quite convinced I was at home in Ryde, I spotted the error of my way as I was about to walk back to town, luckily my head wasn't too much in the clouds as I suddenly realised I was still at Southsea.

The return to Ryde was a quick journey back where the VIPs were photographed. Ian Dickens was heartily greeted by the Japanese guests who were delighted to meet him before Ian and I were photographed holding onto a copy of Great Expectations to promote our event in the

Isle of Wight Walking Festival

We all popped back on board to have a quick look at the engine room and the cosy cockpit (where 4 could just about squeeze in).

I was curious to know why hovercrafts no longer go to France. I discovered that they were big craft that carried cars. However, the passengers were issued with a sick bag as they boarded due to the movement making people feel ill.

This sparked a memory from childhood of boarding a vessel at Ramsgate, my Dad's favourite crossing spot having travelled down from Hull on our way abroad for holiday adventures.

I messaged my older sister and yes, apparently we went by hover to the continent on several occasions. I am hoping she can find some photos that Dad took back then.

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