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Red Funnel CEO honoured with Merchant Navy Medal

Tue, Sep 3 2019

The Department for Transport today announced that Red Funnel Ferries’ CEO, Captain Fran Collins, has been awarded a 2019 Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service.

Awarded to recipients who are serving or have served in the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets of the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands for exemplary services and devotion to duty, it recognises those who have set an outstanding example to others and made contributions in the areas of maritime safety, training, efficiency, welfare, and saving lives at sea.  

This year’s medals will be awarded to a total of 19 mariners across a range of categories.

The award coincides with Merchant Navy Day, a day that celebrates the vital role of Merchant Navy seafarers and the contribution they continue to make to the country, as well as their wartime service.

Fran Collins started her career as a dual cadet and sailed on deep-sea oil and gas tankers before going on to become the first female captain for Channel Islands operator, Condor Ferries. She moved ashore in 2008 and was subsequently promoted to Executive Director - Operations where she was responsible for ensuring service delivery to Channel Island communities, prior to commencing her current role as CEO of Red Funnel in June 2018.

Upon receiving news of the special award, Fran commented: “It is a great honour to receive the news about the Merchant Navy Medal award, and on a day that celebrates the collective contribution that men and women have made, and continue to make, in British seafaring. I am particularly passionate about supporting and encouraging new generations into the maritime sector and to raise awareness of something that is so much a part of our nation’s heritage.”  

Fran is committed to increasing diversity in shipping and making a sea-going career more attractive and accessible to all. When she first went to sea in 1993, approximately three per cent of the world’s shipping workforce was female. 25 years later, the figure has barely changed and the overall number of entrants into the industry has declined, despite improvements in legislation and working conditions.

Fran continued: “I’m keen to encourage more people, especially women, into the industry. There hasn’t been much progression in the perception of the Merchant Navy as a career choice since I started which is disappointing given the fantastic opportunities available. At Red Funnel, we sponsor people into the industry across all levels of engineering, navigation and hospitality to help counter the decline in numbers of seafarers in the UK, and to ensure that more people are aware of what the Merchant Navy can offer in terms of a career – especially given that most imports into the UK are made through sea-shipping. I’ve been privileged to enjoy an incredibly rewarding career, both ashore and afloat, and am grateful to have amassed a wide variety of skills and experiences that could only come from being in this exciting and ever-changing sector – one that I hope I can encourage more young people to be a part of.”

Fran Collins will officially be awarded the medal at a ceremony at Trinity House in November.


For further information regarding Red Funnel, please contact:

Lisa Norman or Kirsti Pawlowski at McKenna Townsend

T: 01425 472330

E: [email protected]

About Red Funnel

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.3m passengers and over 800,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.  In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and two food & beverage brands, ‘Steam Coffee Company’ and ‘ReFuel’.  The Company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including the IW Festival, Cowes Week, Isle of Arts, The Red Funnel IW Literary Festival, IW Newport Jazz Festival, Isle Walk Festival, Ventnor Fringe Festival and Wolverton Manor Garden Show as well as a range of community and niche interest events. Red Funnel’s 2019 Charity of the Year is Mountbatten Hospice, Isle of Wight.

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