'I couldn't believe it': Ferry worker drives 500 miles to help passenger who missed bus to holiday

221221 Holiday hero Meridian
Mark Mitchell drove Hilary Spink to Yorkshire after she missed her coach.

A Wightlink ferry worker has been hailed a hero after driving more than 500 miles to save a passenger's holiday.

Hilary Spink had missed her coach in Portsmouth after travelling from Ryde on the Isle of Wight and went home in tears thinking she'd missed her long-awaited holiday.

When Mark Mitchell found out, he went and picked her up after his shift and drove her all the way to Halifax, in Yorkshire.

Mark said: "My heart melted when I heard Hilary had missed out on her holiday as it had already been cancelled twice because of Covid.

"We had chatted about it during the sailing to Portsmouth and I was upset to hear she was going home instead of enjoying herself in Yorkshire. I thought of how my elderly relatives would be disappointed, if it happened to them, and wanted to put things right for her." 

The journey to Halifax on December 6, took more than five hours, stopping off for refreshments along the way, and Mark's round-trip was more than 500 miles.

The 70-year-old former boarding school matron said: "I underestimated the time it would take to walk from the terminal to the pick-up point. By the time I had even got out of the station and saw what the time was it was clear I had missed it. I felt terribly upset and also annoyed at myself.  

"I really look forward to these holidays and I was so disappointed and sad at the thought of having to turn around and make the journey back home. 

The Wightlink car ferry St Clare crosses The Solent. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

"When I got back to Wightlink, they came to see what was wrong. I told them what had happened and it was then that Mark offered to drive me. I couldn't believe it. It was such a surprise and I just didn't think someone so young would do that for someone of my age." 

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield said: "I was delighted to hear Mark stepped in to help this customer and pleased that the story had a happy ending.  

"Not surprisingly, Mark has won our monthly award for colleagues who go the extra mile to help customers. Although we have many wonderful members of staff, not many have gone quite this far. We are proud of Mark and his prompt actions to help a lady in distress."