Public invited to celebrate life of Stuart Line Cruises owner

The community is being invited to pay tribute to the owner of a well-known tourism company as he passes through his beloved Exmouth one last time.

Ian Stuart, the founder of Stuart Line Cruises, passed away on Saturday, October 3, after a long battle with cancer.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, his family are unable to hold a traditional funeral for Ian, but they will be having a service with close family and friends.

As he was such a key figure within the community, people are invited to pay their respects to Ian as his procession passes along Exmouth seafront on Thursday, October 22.

Ian, Philippa and Jake Stuart, pictured in 2013 during one of their Exeter Canal
Cruises – Ian’s favourite cruise!
Ian, Philippa and Jake Stuart, pictured in 2013 during one of their Exeter Canal Cruises – Ian’s favourite cruise!

Those wanting to pay their respects can stand near to the Lifeboat Station or opposite the Grove Pub, with the procession due to pass the lifeboat station at approximately 1.45pm and passing the pub at around 1.55pm to 2pm.

People attending are asked to follow social distancing rules.

Ian worked internationally to promote the county, and he passionately believed Devon to be the best destination in the UK. He has been described as “a charismatic, good-humoured and incredibly generous man.”

He gained his Skipper’s ticket on his 18th birthday, enabling him to work alongside his dad Tony.

Ian then took over the business in 1992 and in 1994, he and his wife Philippa purchased ‘Tudor Rose’. This was the turning point for their ever-growing seasonal business as the boat had a covered and heated saloon, enabling them to start working throughout the year.

The first wedding aboard Tudor Rose was held in 1995 and they started their famous Sail with Santa and Guided Bird Watching Cruises which still run today.

Ian Stuart pictured with Tudor Rose in 1995
Ian Stuart pictured with Tudor Rose in 1995

The brand new ‘Pride of Exmouth’ arrived in 2003, at the cost of £350,000, licensed to carry up to 250 passengers and yet another enormous turning point for the now very successful Stuart Line Cruises.

Dick Wood, chairman of Devon Association of Tourist Attractions, said: “Ian was a good friend of mine and a very loyal, supportive member of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA).

“We worked together attending various tourism trade shows for national and international audiences flying the flag for Devon.

“Although Ian was obviously very unwell for the last year, he was always upbeat and positive. He bore his illness bravely and stoically without complaint right to the end. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

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Dick described Ian as “a one-off character who was reliable, hard-working, good company and a generous man too.

He said: “Ian worked in Exmouth all along the town’s seafront in boats, initially with his parents Tony and Zena from when the business was set up as Stuart Line in 1968 and sailing from the beach, and for the next 52 years as the business grew and grew with ever-bigger boats sailing throughout the year from the docks to become a dominant force.

“He was almost a ‘Mr Exmouth’ as everyone who mattered locally knew him and Stuart Line, whose boats are seen all along the Jurassic Coast and across to Torbay too.”

Business will continue as usual at Stuart Line Cruises as it has been for the past 12 months during Ian’s illness, with Ian’s son, Jake at the helm.

There will be a collection to donate to the Royal Devon and Exeter Head and Neck Department, where Ian received “world-class” treatment.

Donations are welcome however big or small, and cheques can be dropped to the Stuart Line Cruises Booking Office at Exmouth Marina, EX8 1FE.

They can also be dropped to the funeral directors Gegg Richard W & Sons, EX8 2RS. Cheques should be made payable to RD&E Hospital General Trust Fund (ENT DEPARTMENT).

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