Trio honoured for contribution to Loch Lomond area

A community champion, a photographer and the founder of a steamship company have been honoured for their contribution to Scotland’s first national park.

Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs presents the awards this week to Joe Twaddle, Paul Saunders and John Beveridge for improving visitor experience in the area.

John Beveridge, who for the past 35 years has been at the helm of the efforts to get the Maid of the Loch sailing again, was recognized for his voluntary work.

John, of Helensburgh, has been involved with the Maid since 1982 when she was advertised for sale.

Ten years later, when the Maid owners were placed into liquidation John, who at the time was a director at Dumbarton District Council, persuaded the local authority to buy the boat.

He then helped set up the Loch Lomond Steamship Company in 1995, and since then the Maid has been refurbished and become a popular static tourist attraction, with the pier rebuilt and the slipway restored. As voluntary project manager working with a number of consultants, John has also recently managed to secure significant funding pledge towards this cause from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

John said: “Ever since that day in 1982 I have been determined to ensure that the Maid of the Loch can operate to the best of her ability, and it is a determination I will retain for many years to come.

“The interest shown in the Maid every year shows how vital it is that she is maintained, and that every avenue is explored for improvement.”

Mr Twaddle, who runs Passfoot Bed and Breakfast in Balmaha with his wife Betty, was given the third Hannah Stirling National Park Award in recognition of his hard work, commitment and outstanding service over many years to the well-being of East Loch Lomondside.

He originally came to live in the area 50 years ago to work at the University Field at Rowardennan, and was secretary of Buchanan Community Council for 37 years before standing down last year.

He continues to be an active member of East Loch Lomond Community Trust, which is currently progressing plans to improve Balmaha Village Green.

He said: said: “East Loch Lomond has been part of most of my life and helping to keep it beautiful as part of Scotland’s first national park is a pleasure to me. I am therefore delighted to pick up this award for simply doing something that I enjoy and am determined to keep doing for as long as possible.”

The National Park Business Supporter of the Year award went to Paul Saunders, in recognition of his contribution to the success of the Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland project and the Friends of OUR park scheme.

He has also been a business supporter of the Friends for several years, making monthly contributions to the fundraising Friends of OUR park project, and assisted with other schemes including the Celebrating Park People and their Stories programme in 2013.

Paul said: “It is strange to be on the other side of the camera, but a great honour to be recognised in this way.”

Pictured from left are James Fraser (chairman, Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs), Paul Saunders, Joe Twaddle, Ross Anderson (chairman, Scottish Campaign for National Parks), John Beveridge, Willie Nisbet (vice-convener, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority) and John Urquhart (vice-chairman, Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs).