An experienced hand is taking the helm at weddings around West Lothian.
Former QE2 captain, Nick Bates (66), has joined the crew at West Lothian Council’s registration services team conducting civil wedding ceremonies across the area.
Nick, who also captained the Queen Mary 2, Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, conducted over 50 weddings at sea. He is now enjoying sharing the special day on dry land with happy couples at venues around West Lothian.
Nick said: “There are a lot of similarities between the process of conducting marriages on a ship and on dry land.
“Thankfully, I have completed the training and I have now performed five weddings in West Lothian.
‘‘I’ve got to say that I have enjoyed every one; the people have been lovely and there are some superb locations around West Lothian.
“There are always surprises. At one of the first weddings I conducted, the red carpet that the bride walked down had actually come from the QE2. I couldn’t believe it – I’d walked down that carpet myself hundreds of times and now here it was! It certainly made me feel more at home.”
Born in Ardglass, Northern Ireland, Nick grew up around boats and went on to spend over 45 years at sea progressing to the rank of captain and allowing him to become a marriage celebrant.
Nick added: ‘‘For me, the people are the most important part of this job, just as they were on the ships. I was told once: ‘If you like going to sea and like people, work on a cruise ship and if you like going to sea and don’t like people, work on an oil tanker’ and that was an easy choice for me - I just love people.
Nick combines his role with his charity work as a barge skipper for the Seagull Trust, which operates Union Canal cruises for people with special needs.
Executive councillor for culture and leisure Dave King said: “We are delighted to welcome Nick on board.’’