On the Spot: Anne Mitchell

A connoisseur of the social side of CRSC activities, Anne Mitchell is pictured (front left) at Auchrannie during the Club’s 2017 New Year excursion to Brodick. She is sitting next to Tom Cakebread and Hazel O’Neill, with Eric Schofield, Robert Cleary and Stuart Craig facing them on the right

Anne Mitchell is CalMac’s Retail Sales Manager, a Gourock-based post that requires regular contact with onboard shop and catering personnel up and down the network. A CalMac employee for 28 years, Anne brings a palpable joie de vivre to her job, even though it has been ‘basically the same since 2005 with variations of title changes’.

Over the years her close links with the ferries have fostered an enjoyment of sailing that goes well beyond her managerial duties, for she has become a regular supporter of CRSC charters and group excursions. Her responses to Stuart Craig’s ‘On the Spot’ questions reveal that, while she may not yet claim to be a ‘nutter’, she enjoys the social aspects of Club membership and knows as much about the CalMac fleet as anyone.

Saturn and Jupiter off Wemyss Bay on 24 June 2005: the former vessel took Anne on her first visit to Rothesay, while the latter’s to-ing and fro-ing at Gourock became a pleasant distraction during her early years at CalMac head office. Click on image to enlarge

What is your earliest memory of sailing on a Clyde Steamer?

Not a steamer but a ‘streaker’ — in 1985, going to Rothesay on Saturn with my aunt and uncle, who were visiting from South Africa.

What was the last sailing you took?

Monday 4 May 2021, Oban to Craignure on board MV Isle of Mull.

Holidays: Dunoon, Rothesay or Arran?

I’ve never holidayed in those places but, if I had to choose, it would be Arran.

What is your favourite steamer?

Has to be the old lady of the Clyde – The Waverley.

Which was Waverley’s best livery?

I like her current livery.

If young enough, what was your favourite ‘streaker’, or if older, your favourite ‘Maid’?

Has to be Jupiter. When I started in CalMac, the office I worked in faced onto the pier and I spent a lot of time staring out the window when I was meant to be working….

This photo of Waverley’s bow at Dunoon in 1984 shows the old-style lettering and the WSN houseflag emblazoned on the steel bulwark. Anne Mitchell refers affectionately to the paddler as the old lady of the Clyde’

Jeanie Deans or Waverley?

Goes without saying, Waverley.

A new turbine has been built on the Clyde. What would you call her?

The Annie M (ha ha ha).

What would you like to see happen on the Clyde ferry scene over the next few years?

It will be interesting to see the plans for the replacements for Gourock–Dunoon and obviously the new boat for Ardrossan–Brodick coming into service.

The best point-to-point route you’ve sailed on?

On holiday, the Canary Islands crossing from Corralejo on Fuerteventura to Playa Blanca on Lanzarote. In Scotland, Port Askaig to Colonsay on a CRSC excursion — or shall we rename them a Neil Guthrie special!!

Apart from Millport, which pier would you like to see re-open?

Helensburgh Pier [which has been closed to all marine traffic since October 2018 and will be off-limits to Waverley this summer].

What inspired you to join CRSC?

I joined a few years ago when some members of the CalMac management team were invited to a CRSC lunch in Rothesay. I really enjoyed the day and chatting to members.

Isle of Mull at Craignure on 25 October 1997. Anne Mitchell’s most recent trip on CalMac’s veteran Mull ferry was just a month ago

Would you like to see Zoom meetings become a permanent feature of the Club’s year, even once normal meetings are allowed again?

I love the Zoom meetings. It’s a good option to take part if you can’t make it up to Glasgow for the normal meetings.

What makes you continue your membership of CRSC?

Pre-Covid I really enjoyed the excursions. I’ve made new friends and it’s always great to see them.

What could the Club do better?

I think a great success for the Club has been the online Zoom meetings. The next step into the modern world could be sending literature in digital format for download as opposed to print.

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Despite her dedication to the CalMac cause, Anne Mitchell is happy to sail on a Western Ferries vessel if the need or wish arises: here she is (left) on a CRSC charter of Sound of Seil in June 2016, with partner Marshall MacKinnon, CRSC Cruise Coordinator Neil Guthrie, Stuart Deans and Hazel O’Neill

Once upon a time Anne had the ‘streakers’ to light up the view outside her Gourock office window. Times have changed: if she had taken a peek on 14 February last year, she would have caught Ali Cat, Argyll Flyer, Coruisk and Chieftain all in one frame, with Argyle leaving for Rothesay

It was over lunch at the Victoria Hotel, Rothesay, on 9 January 2016 that Anne Mitchell (left foreground, in striped white top) first got to know members of CRSC. She was part of a CalMac management group who joined us for the excursion from Gourock on MV Argyle, during which the company’s managing director at the time, Martin Dorchester, gave us an illuminating PowerPoint presentation

Onboard retail: Anne’s responsibilities include oversight of the CalMac fleet’s cafeteria and shop supplies, such as those available in MV Bute’s Coffee Cabin

CRSC’s Round Arran charter of MV Isle of Arran in January 2018: Anne Mitchell enjoys a chat in the ship’s restaurant, sandwiched on the right hand side between Iain Quinn and Ian McCrorie, with Cameron Shaw, Alice Hickford and Hazel O’Neill on the left

Anne Mitchell cites Helensburgh as the pier she would most like to see re-opened. It would certainly benefit Waverley if Argyll & Bute Council invested the money to repair the increasingly dilapidated structure, which has been closed since 2018. Eric Schofield’s atmospheric photo shows the paddler there in 1980


Walter Bowie

Kay Hutchison

Graham Lappin

Jim Stirling

Carrie MacKinnon

Allan Smith

Andrew Anderson

Paul Semple

Lawrence Macduff

and plenty more….

Published on 4 June 2021