A HEREFORD woman grabbed the opportunity of a once-in-a-lifetime trip on the farewell tour of a Royal Navy ship.

Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes was invited aboard HMS OCEAN as it made its way on its last trip from Sunderland to Plymouth.

The helicopter carrier and fleet flagship of the navy is being decommissioned in spring next year after 20 years in service.

Cllr Lloyd-Hayes, who is a county councillor, was invited on the four-day trip as she was a member of The Worshipful Company of Farriers.

She said: "I learned a lot about the Royal Navy and the service they provide. I spoke to one 23-year-old sailor. I said to him, 'What did you do before you joined the navy?'

"He said he worked for Homebase. He said he had been with the navy for six years and he was now a qualified mechanic and had travelled the world and made some wonderful friends."

There were 1,200 people onboard and she saw helicopters landing on the ship including Chinooks, Merlins, Wildcats and Apaches.

Cllr Lloyd-Hayes' late husband, Robert Hayes, was involved in the development of Chinooks.

She said: "I wanted to go as I knew it was going to be the last trip."

Ocean is set to be replaced by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.