An Inverclyde catering company came to the rescue of hundreds of stranded cruise ship passengers.
It was all hands on deck for Tony Buckley and his family, who run ICE Scotland and Buckley’s at Gourock Golf Club, after they were suddenly drafted in to provide refreshments for tourists who were given refuge at Greenock Town Hall after Storm Ali caused their cruise ship to slip its moorings on Wednesday.
Kyla McKinlay, who works alongside her dad Tony and her sisters Stacey and Ashleigh, said it was a heartening experience as the passengers, most of whom were from America, were so grateful for the hospitality they received.
“It was unbelievable – I have never met a more friendly bunch of people in my life. They were so grateful for everything we were doing.
“One of the passengers even gave me a big cuddle at the end.”
Initially they were asked to serve refreshments for an hour but due to delays in getting the ship back to the dock, they ended up catering for nine hours, finishing at 9pm.
“We served about 1,500 cups of tea, coffee and juice and over 500 biscuits.
“Later on my dad made enough lentil soup to feed 400 people with rolls and we made sandwiches using 36 loaves of bread. One passenger said it was the best soup he had ever tasted.
“We also offered Irn Bru and one passenger came back up about four times for more. I said to him to take a two litre bottle of Irn Bru back on the ship.
“He offered to pay for it but I said to him just to take it.“He was blown away by Irn Bru – he thought it was amazing.”
Kyla says it was great to see everyone pull together to make sure the tourists were well looked after.
She said: “We’ve never had anything like that before, everything in the town hall is usually pre-planned.
“Everything was last minute but we just pulled together and worked as a team to help these people.”
Tony, 62, said it was great to serve the tourists:
“Most of the passengers were Americans and they were very friendly. They didn’t seem too fazed about everything, they seemed quite happy.”
Tony was keen to thank his other daughter Stacey Gatens and the excellent team of staff, including Kayleigh Osborne and Karen Ball who helped the passengers.
The family are also grateful to Inverclyde Leisure for their support on the day.
This article and picture appeared in the Greenock Telegraph on 21 September 2018.