With six days to go before the end of a crowdfunding campaign, donations have been received from around the world to help get the UK’s last built paddle steamship sailing on Loch Lomond again.
The campaign for the Maid of the Loch kicked off on October 27 with the aim of raising £125,000 in just six weeks, to buy a new boiler (£90,000) and pay for its installation (£35,000).
It included an amnesty appeal to find parts from the paddle steamship that went missing after she was left derelict in 1981.
Yesterday the fundraising appeal stood at £68,324 – the largest donation arrived on Tuesday, a gift worth £25,000 from Graeme Varley, who lives in Manchester.
He was born in Greenock, spent his early childhood there and as a teenager in the early 60s used to sail on the Maid – as well as the Clyde steamers – and was inspired to support the campaign because of these happy memories.
He said: “The Maid of the Loch is an important part of our Scottish heritage and I would encourage everyone who cares about this to make a donation – however small – so that once again, she can grace the waters of Loch Lomond.”
The farthest and perhaps most historic donation came all the way from Calgary in Canada -$5,500 CAD was given by members of the Humble family in memory of author, journalist and photographer Ben Humble (1903-1977), who overcame total deafness to become one of the pioneers of mountain rescue in Scotland.
Ben’s books and countless articles covered every aspect of the Scottish outdoors, and soon after the end of World War II he shared his lifelong enthusiasm for the Clyde and Loch steamers with a popular series of guide books which included Sailing Down the Clyde, Sailing up Loch Lomond and The Three Lochs.
Another response came all the way from New Zealand – one of the Maid’s first members of staff answering the call for the return of missing parts of the ship.
John Beveridge, chair of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, the charity which looks after the Maid, said: “We got a surprise parcel from Alastair Brown, who was the first purser to work on the Maid.
“He’s in his 80s now and lives in New Zealand. Alastair heard about the appeal and has sent us the original clicker used to count the people on and off of the ship.
“Alastair says that if he can make the trip he wants to come back to Loch Lomond, to act as purser on the first voyage after the Maid re-launched.”
The original build plate – with the name of the shipbuilders and date – was also returned, dropped off to the ship the very day they made the amnesty appeal.
Mr Beveridge added: “The generous response to our appeal has been truly heartening.
“We have had donations coming in every single day of the campaign, some smaller, some larger – on Wednesday we received a check for £5000 – and every single gift gets us closer.”
The campaign ends on December 8 – to donate or respond to the appeal for missing items go to www.maidoftheloch.org