A COUPLE of Halifax party planners have been enlisted to help give HMS Ark Royal a fitting send-off today.
Husband and wife Sarah Petty and Jamie Horsley, of Holmfield Mills, Holmfield, have been organising a party for the aircraft carrier’s decommissioning ceremony.
Their firm, Prego Events, was chosen to be in charge of the celebrations for around 600 guests after the formalities aboard the vessel finish.
Sarah said: “Winning this contract means the world to us.
“We know that Ark Royal has strong links with Yorkshire and to be asked to organise an event of this size and grandeur to say goodbye to the Royal Navy’s flagship is a great honour.
“We are working very hard to make sure it will be an evening to remember.”
The party will mark the end of 25 years of service for the current Ark Royal – the fifth vessel to bear the name.
It played a pivotal role in the NATO campaign during the Bosnia conflict and led UK naval forces during the invasion of Iraq.
Ark Royal has had a close connection with Leeds since the Second World War. The city “adopted” its third incarnation a week before it was torpedoed and sunk in 1941, and residents raised £9 million for its replacement.
The ship was awarded the Freedom of the City of Leeds in 1973, at a ceremony attended by the late Queen Mother.
Around 160 sailors paraded through the city last month to exercise the right for the final time.
The vessel is being decommissioned four years early due to defence cuts.
The Prego team have travelled down to Portsmouth to have everything ready for today’s historic occasion.
They have had just over two weeks to organise the Mardi Gras-themed celebration, having only had the contract confirmed at the end of February.
Jamie said: “The idea is to turn an empty warehouse at the docks in Portsmouth in to a New Orleans street scene in just two and a half weeks.
“I am confident we can do it and that the end result will be spectacular.”