It's not every day we have to say goodbye to someone with nearly five decades of service, but that's what happened last week when Nigel Graham, Terminal Manager at the Ocean Terminal, hung up his hi-vis jacket for the last time after an incredible 47 years of service at the Port of Southampton.
Nigel originally started work in the Port in 1967 when he left school. After gaining experience in a number of different roles he was promoted to the role of supervisor at 38/9 berth in 1978. Nigel supervised both Cruise and RoRo operations here, and has since continued to work servicing the cruise industry for a further impressive 37 years.
During this time Nigel has witnessed huge change in the Port: the demise of break bulk cargo ships (and the onset of Containerisation), the abolishment of the British Transport Docks Board in 1981, and perhaps most significantly, record growth in the UK Cruise Industry: recently putting Southampton on the map as the biggest Cruise Turnaround Port in Europe, and indeed one of the biggest in the World.
Nigel joined us in 2010 when Solent Stevedores acquired the stevedoring contract for Carnival UK, and has always been a well known and respected character for as long as anyone can remember! He was always on the quayside and onboard ship, where he liked to keep the ship's crew in check, as well as his own team! Anyone who crossed Nigel would have his trusty dog Rosie to answer to; a retired working dog who was often seen at Nigel's side.
On 11th May at 3pm a crowd of over 50 colleagues and friends gathered to wish Nigel well.
The MV Queen Elizabeth had baked a huge cake in honour of Nigel which was enjoyed by all, and everyone agreed that the Port of Southampton would be a poorer place without him. Not only will we miss the vast wealth of experience and knowledge which leaves with him, but above all 'a calm and kind natured gentleman with a wicked sense of humour'.
As Queen Elizabeth slipped out of the Ocean Dock later that afternoon Nigel quietly looked on, reflecting on a lifetime's work - it was the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter.
We all wish Nigel and Sharon a long and happy retirement.