People from around the world are throwing their support behind the final days of a crowdfunding campaign to help get the Maid of the Loch - the UK’s last built paddle steamship – sailing on Loch Lomond again.
The campaign kicked off on 27th October with the ambitious aim of raising £125,000 in just six weeks, to buy a new boiler (£90,000) and pay for it’s installation (£35,000). The campaign also included an amnesty appeal to find parts from the paddle steamship that went missing after she was left derelict in 1981.
As of 10am on Wednesday 6th December the fundraising appeal is at £72,225 following three donations this morning.
The largest donation arrived on last Tuesday, when fundraisers were thrilled by a gift worth £25,000 from Graeme Varley who lives in Manchester. He was born in Greenock and spent his early childhood there. As a teenager in the early sixties Graeme used to sail on the Maid - as well as the Clyde steamers - and was inspired to support the campaign because of these happy memories.
Graeme Varley 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 Alberta, Canada. $5,500 CAD was given by members of the Humble family in memory of author, journalist and photographer Ben Humble MBE (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 life long enthusiasm for the Clyde and Loch steamers with a popular series of guide books which included “Sailing Down the Clyde”, “Sailing up Loch Lomond”, “Through the Trossachs” and “The Three Lochs”. When the Minister of Transport Dr Beeching threatened the Loch Lomond sailings in the 1960s Ben challenged him in, ”Will the Queen Save the Maid?” Were he alive today Ben’s family say his voice would be among the loudest in support of our campaign. His remarkable story can be found in “The Voice of the Hills” by his nephew Roy Humble, published by The Pentland Press in 1995.
Another far reaching response came all the way from New Zealand, and it was 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 that looks after the Maid picks up the story:
“We got a surprise parcel from Alastair Brown, who was the first Purser to work on the Maid. He’s in his eighties 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.
John Beveridge says they have been delighted by the far reaching response to the campaign:
“The Generous response to our appeal has been truly heartening and we would like to say a huge thanks to Graeme Varley, the family of Ben Humble, to Alastair and to everyone who is supporting us in different ways. 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 8th of December, so there is just one week left. If it reaches £90,000 this will cover the cost to buy a the new boiler, and if they can get to £125,000 that will cover the installation too. The charity are hoping that others will be inspired to support the final push to buy a boiler to power the Maid.