A LOT of people who have traveled on Red Funnel Ferry have been led aboard by a dance employee – but who’s the man behind the movements?
The answer is Jim O’Reilly, an employee of Red Funnel for 18 years.
Jim, 57, joined the ferry company 18 years ago after moving from London to the Isle of Wight with his wife and children.
After five to six years of helping the company’s delivery department, the agile employee has been “blown away by the public.”
Jim said: “The dancing just happened. I think for me it’s treating people the way I want to be treated.
“It’s a warm welcome with a smile and it shows that your customer is appreciated.
“Doing the dance wasn’t a strategic plan and it’s just to make people smile.
“What I love most about dancing is watching those who don’t know it. Their jaws are almost touching the floor.
“There have also been children with terminal illnesses who come and go to the hospital with their families who are able to get used to seeing me there. The parents of a young boy recently told them that I was there. made everyone laugh when they came.
“You impact people in different ways. It’s not just vacationers who use the boat. ”
Jim’s dance moves have been popular with clients and Southampton residents for many years, and he was crowned VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar in 2018.
But a recent surge in popularity, especially on Southampton’s Facebook groups, has made more and more people wonder “who is the dancing employee at Red Funnel?” ”
This response came as a surprise to Jim.
He said: “I’m stunned because it’s usually word of mouth. It’s great.
“When I started this job I had left London with my wife and children and moved to the island. I came here (Southampton) and didn’t know anyone, but within hours people introduced themselves.
“So you can’t believe how much that means to me. Southampton is a city close to my heart, and it’s a pleasure to be here and to greet people with a smile.
“I had hip replacement surgery at 45 and I’ll probably need another in a few years, and my knees are creaking, but as long as I’m physically fit I’ll be dancing and laughing with people. ”
Original video provided by Red Funnel.