HE built his own version of Southampton dockyard in his spare bedroom – despite having never stepped on board a ship.
Now Clive Curtis has been given a tour of the Port of Southampton to experience the real deal for himself.
Since he appeared in the Daily Echo, readers from across the city have got in touch and added to his collection of memorabilia, which included dozens of pictures and 36 diecast cruise liners and container ships.
When retired Southampton container terminal shift manager John Bull read about the 58-year-old from Outer Circle, Coxford, he was keen to get in touch and arrange for him to visit his former workplace.
Clive Curtis with his model replica of Southampton's port
Clive was given a tour of the terminal, learnt how the port keeps track of the thousands of containers that are delivered to Southampton every day and even got to go on board one of the world’s largest container ships, the Basle Express, which carries 16,000 containers.
This came after Associated British Ports invited Clive and wife Debbie to visit for a tour of the cruise terminal, a trip on the harbour master’s boat and a visit to the navigation tower.
He was also sent home with gifts including a plaque which is normally given to ships to commemorate their first visit to Southampton.
John worked at the container port, now run by DP World, for 32 years until retiring in 2007, and he had collected shipping memorabilia from more than 30 years of holidaying on liners.
Now he has given Clive books, DVDs and more than 100 menus and memorabilia from the Canberra and the QE2, including a menu from when the QE2 took troops to the Falkland’s War and two framed 1930s Union Castle notices reminding crew of the company’s rules.
The 66-year-old of Rownhams said: “He was so keen and I have so much stuff lying around, I wanted to give it to him.
“It started by giving a few menus and it just snowballed. I just wanted to put the icing on the cake and take him on a ship. I thought ‘for a bloke who’s so interested in ships never to go on one’ I just took it on board.”
Dad-of-two Clive, said: “If it wasn’t for the article in the Daily Echo and for John I wouldn’t have done any of this.
“I wouldn’t have missed either trip for the world. I was really surprised that they did this for me. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I never expected all this. I can’t thank the Daily Echo and its readers enough. I just can’t get over it all – I’ve got such a huge collection now.
“I’ve learnt an awful lot about the ports in these two visits. I’ve enjoyed them immensely but I’m going to have to make quite a few changes to my port now!”