(Newsletter written 25/9/09 on the day that Julia docked in Cork - but emailed out the day after....)
Oh Happy Day!
...if somewhat exhausting!
I'm delighted to report that today (25/9/09) the new ship for the Fastnet Line Cork-Swansea service arrived in Cork Harbour - and she's now safely berthed at Horgan's Quay only minutes from the centre of Cork.
We've had an overwhelmingly positive response to our publicity over the last few days - both in Swansea, where the ship stopped over en-route from Finland to Cork and in & around Cork today.
Watching Julia make her way sedately up the Lee, led by a Port of Cork tug with the high-pressure fire hoses playing up into the air, it was hard to fight back the emotion - she looked like a real symbol of hope in these sometimes dark times.
As Conor Buckley, Chairman of the West Cork Tourism Co-operative (which owns the new company - Fastnet Line), said: "The vision is to build this into a long-term, sustainable business — as far as we are concerned this is a 'forever' deal. When the old service stopped, it was a major blow — it caused real pain. Access is the key to tourism success.
The new service will be a massive boost for tourism businesses in Ireland and Wales."
"Isn't she lovely"
We're in the process of building up a whole array of Julia photographs on the website - not just shots of her arriving in Cork, but also interior shots.
I was privileged to have a very quick tour of the ship this morning - and my general impression was that she's very clean and tidy inside - and isn't going to require an awful lot of 'updating' before she's ready for service in March 2010. An amount of time will be taken up with routine maintenance, and ensuring that she meets Irish safety standards.
She's certainly a massive improvement on the old Superferry ...... and she makes a most impressive sight, tied up in the centre of Cork City. If you get a chance - drop by and take a look - you'll be impressed by the sheer size of her.
"Pennies in the Fountain"
(Well - they all add up, you know!)
Amazingly, the Co-op has now raised something in the region of 10 million euro - thanks to our marvellous shareholders and with assistance from the Finnish bank, Aktia Bank, and its finance company, Aktia Yritysrahoitus Oy. (Pay attention at the back - there'll be a test on this later! )
We are now in need of a paltry 2.5million euro - as working capital so that the service can launch on March 1st (St David's Day) 2010. Those clever people at the Co-op have come up with two attractive investment schemes - one invites people to become shareholders in the Co-op, and the other scheme, with a slightly higher price-tag, is a 4-year investment scheme.
As somebody said today "The fact that this wonderful ship is actually here, tied up in Cork, proves that the revived ferry service isn't just some crazy idea dreamed up by a Garden Centre owner and a guy who makes stained glass". I think what they were trying to say was that this scheme is a real, solid investment that is going to serve as an object lesson on how to dig our way out of an adverse situation...
Whichever spin you put on it - we're 80% of the way there - and surely we can only succeed? With your continued support (both moral and financial) 'We can do this'.
Please take a moment to visit the websites, drop by the e-petition and say 'hi', and consider investing in the 'People's Ferry' - or if you can't, please pass the link on to your friends for their consideration.
Campaign website - www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com
Photos - http://www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com/html/tour.html
Investment - www.fastnetline.com
Fastnetline (investment / news / pre-book) - www.fastnetline.com
"You're more than a number in my little red book"
OK - it's been a long day - but the Fastnet Line 'prebooking' form is still in operation - and we're collecting email addresses from folks who'd like to be told immediately the proper booking website is up & running. In fact, as I type this, the number of email addresses just passed the 5,000 mark!
If you'd like to register your interest - the form's on the Fastnetline website.
"I heard it through the Grapevine"
When we started the Campaign, waaay back in April 2008, our marketing & PR budget was round about zero. Now, 18 months later, it's about the same.
In a way, the success of the Campaign is a testament to the power of no-cost online marketing - and to the really great people who have given us their support. Fastnet Line will of course have 'real money' to spend on marketing - but, as it has worked so well so far, we at the campaign will still be relying on 'the grapevine' to pass the word around. With this in mind - if you could email your friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers etc with the news that the return of the Cork-Swansea service is imminent - and invite them to register their interest at the Fastnet Line pre-booking site then that would be tremendous!
.......And, as another great diarist once said, 'so to bed'
Goodnight all - and sincere thanks from John & myself, and the amazing team at the Co-op.