RED Funnel has started to plant 160 trees across the Island in celebration of its 160th birthday.

The ferry operator officially launched the tree planting scheme with a ground-breaking ceremony at Mountbatten's hospice.

This year, Red Funnel is marking over a century and a half of travel between the Isle of Wight and the mainland – serving as the Island’s longest standing ferry operator.

As part of the birthday celebrations, Red Funnel is launching a community initiative that will bring together Island partners and residents, to look back on the ferry company’s past and to plant the seed for the next 160 years.

The ferry company is gifting 160 trees to 11 local businesses, charities, and community groups, to contribute to the important community outdoor spaces for Island residents to enjoy.

The first planting ceremony was held at Mountbatten Hospice, with Nigel Hartley, the chief executive of Mountbatten, and Cllr Matthew Price, Councillor for Fairlee and Whippingham, supporting with breaking ground and planting the first tree.

Red Funnel is working with local nursery Busy Bee to supply all the trees, as part of its commitment to support Island business owners.

Nigel Harley said: “We are really grateful to Red Funnel for the gift of these trees.

"Enhancing the look and feel of our hospice site is really important to us and the planting of these trees will complement our wonderful garden and outdoor spaces, which are so well looked after by our volunteers.

“Red Funnel has been a long-standing supporter of our work and this latest gesture is really kind and appreciated by us all at Mountbatten.”

The full list of partners includes Mountbatten, Cowes Town Council, Northwood Recreation Grounds, East Cowes Council, Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Isle of Wight Learning Centre, Kingswood Learning Centre, Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, Isle of Wight College, and Monkey Haven.