AN ALTRINCHAM travel agent with a hunger for adventure is celebrating 50 years in the holiday business.

Ken Garrity started as a junior at Lewis’s Travel Bureau, Manchester in 1968 but was promoted after just three years to assistant manager at the department store’s Liverpool branch.

In the 1970s, the capital beckoned and Mr Garrity was appointed manager of Selfridges Travel in the fashionable department store in Oxford Street, London.

But in 1981, Mr Garrity returned home to Altrincham where he started his own agency, Carlton Travel, on Washway Road Sale.

He said: “I had the shop for 27 years and together with my staff, we built up a great reputation locally.

“We sent lots of people to many destinations . I especially liked to do the long haul arrangements to Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand, as well as cruises.

“When I reached 60 I thought I would start to downsize but this never happened because I was still being asked by regular clients to book travel arrangements.

“I now work from home as Ken Garrity Travel and I’m still dealing with many of my clients who have been with me for over 30 years.”

Mr Garrity specialises in personal service and visits his clients to discuss their wants and needs when booking long haul holidays and cruises.

For Mr Garrity, travel is more than just a vocation. It is a hunger for adventure that he shares with his customers and which has seen him travel to over 60 countries worldwide.

He said: “I flew to Los Angeles, for a special £6 travel agents fare, on one of the first Boeing 747 flights in 1970. This gave me my love of long haul travelling. I also flew on Concorde to Cairo for the day for my birthday in 1984!”

Mr Garrity is still breaking new ground as an independent travel agent. Last year, he secured tickets for the inaugural flight with Hainan Airlines from Manchester to Beijing.

Other highlights of his many adventures include seeing the Northern Lights in Yukon, Canada, trekking the Milford Track in New Zealand and hiking along the Great Wall of China.

He said: “I’ve loved every minute of my career in travel. I’ve travelled on a bullet train in Japan, encountered orangutans in Borneo and stroked a cheetah in South Africa.

“I am busy on a day to day basis with clients seeking to travel further afield. I receive requests for Antarctic cruising, seeing the Northern Lights and tailor-made holidays, especially across USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“I really enjoy helping with these custom holidays because they are exactly the sort of adventures that I love going on myself.

“Clients now want more (soft)adventures, such as trekking the Inca Trail or Himalayas, safaris and wildlife trips. I was even asked recently to arrange travel to see gorillas in West Africa.”

He added: “I look forward to helping them for many more years to come.”