A former West Dorset man has described attending the unveiling of the Royal Navy’s next generation aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as the ‘icing on top’ of his career.

Simon Petitt, 47, who went to school in Lyme Regis from 1978 to 1985, was awarded the role of senior naval officer of the new vessel back in 2012.

The 65,000-tonne ship is Britain’s biggest ever carrier and is said to be the most complex warship built in the UK. More than 7,000 people in more than 100 companies across the country have worked on its construction.

The Queen attended a ceremony to mark the completion of the new aircraft carrier at Rosyth dockyard in Fife.

Captain Petitt, who met the Queen at the ceremony, left Woodroffe school at 18 after his A-levels and joined Britannia Royal Navy College in Dartmouth in 1985.

He said: “I’m a huge supporter of Lyme Regis as a town because I grew up there.

“Meeting the queen was a fantastic experience and I got the chance to tell her about how the ship is operating and what the crew are doing.

“The ceremony was a day of celebration and it was just brilliant.

“I’ve been in the navy for a long time now and was appointed the senior naval officer for HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is very exciting and a huge honour.

“A senior naval officer is put on a ship to prepare it for sea, to operate things and grow the crew before the ship is handed over to another commanding officer when it goes to sea.

“Knowing I will have this experience to tell in future years is at the back of my mind every day. It’s a huge privilege to be working in command of a brilliant bunch of people.”

Thousands lined the banks of the Firth of Forth for the unveiling of the ship, including members of the ship’s crew.