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1500 Stranded in Stranraer

MORE than 1500 people were stranded in Stranraer on Sunday night after three ferry crossings were cancelled due to high winds.

The Ryan Centre opened its doors as emergency accommodation to the 300 who were unable to find lodgings in guest houses, while several hundred more stayed in the Stena Terminal.

Local pubs and restaurants had to draft in extra staff to cope with the demand from the unexpected visitors, many of whom were rugby supporters returning from Ireland's clash with Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

A spokesman for Stena Line confirmed that extreme weather conditions forced the cancellations of the 2.45 and 7.35 pm HSS and the 3.30 pm ferry sailings.

At 5.20 am on Monday services were returning to normal as passengers and vehicles boarded a ferry for Ireland. Despite the crowds, police reported no trouble and landlords said there was a friendly atmosphere throughout the day.

Following a request from Stena, the Ryan Centre became an "Emergency Rest Centre", and council staff, with the help of WRVS and Red Cross Volunteers, provided hot food and refreshments.

Mattresses, crash mats and blankets were provided, and The movement room, main hall, theatre area and viewing balconies were all occupied, as staff at the Centre worked through the night.

At 4 o'clock on Monday morning, a bus was provided to take them to the waiting ferry. Justin Tracy, Area Manager Wigtown, said the incident was "a good test of new emergency procedures" with a "magnificent" staff response.

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