A FERRY service, which had operated between Appledore and Instow for more than 140 years before being discontinued in 2007, was resurrected on Saturday in colourful style.

A 20-strong ‘hen’ party of colourfully-dressed girls for local bride-to-be Sam Jenkins were the first passengers of the newly launched service, travelling from Appledore across the River Torridge to Instow for lunch and then an open-top bus ride to Woolacombe.

Sam and husband-to-be Nick Ayres are both members of Appledore lifeboat crew and will be married at Appledore Parish Church on July 16.

The new ferry is being operated for the first month or two on a trial basis, with plans for an official launch later in the summer.

Formerly a commercial operation, it has now been taken under the wings of the neighbouring estuary communities of Appledore and Instow as a non-profit community project.

This follows public meetings last spring to gauge interest in the project and the formation of a committee of local volunteers. There was strong support, but not enough money to buy a boat and cover the start-up costs.

Now committee member Debbie Ludwell has agreed to rent her boat Misty Blue to the service and a host of local people and business have come forward to help adapt her for the job and provide other support. Four skippers have been employed on a free-lance basis.

Also on Saturday’s first crossings were county councillor Rodney Cann and district councillor Brian Moores.

Cllr Cann was one of the instigators of the project and has supported it with £3,000 from his council ‘locality fund’ while Mr Moores has provided a further £1,000 from his North Devon Council fund.

The committee gave its thanks to both men for their help in securing this vital funding.

Weather and tide permitting, it is planned to operate the ferry service daily from two hours before to two hours after high tide, between 8am and 9pm. It will operate between the ferry slip on Appledore Quay and the Quay Steps at Instow.

Six volunteer directors - John Nightingale, Niki Tait, Debbie Ludwell, Max Buckingham, Barry Vincent, and Sheila Moores - are overseeing the project.

They are looking for more people to assist in a variety of ways - helping the skippers handle the ferry at each side of the river, with publicity, future fund raising, organisation of the launch day, boat maintenance, financial support and much else. Anyone interested is asked to contact John Nightingale on 07710836317 email:- jncaen@hotmail.co.uk or Sheila Moores on 07540802115 email: bmo8777539@aol.com