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In March this year, instead of beginning another year of service in steam around the coast of the UK, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer was found to be in very poor health, with her boilers in such poor condition it was decided not to continue to repair them but to cancel 2019 and launch an appeal to replace them with two new ones.
Some £2.3 million needed to be raised – a big ask, but to date the Boiler Refit Appeal has now passed the £2 million mark. Funds are still required to reach the final target and make the repairs so that Waverley will be back in service in 2020, including her spring sojourn to Oban and the Western Isles.
To further raise awareness and support the appeal a number of events have been organised for this month in Oban, Inveraray and Helensburgh.
The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, owners of Waverley, are holding awareness events which will consist of a talk, display of large scale working model steamers and sales of Waverley gifts and souvenirs and the opportunity to meet with members of the society, and perhaps to join.
The Helensburgh event is at 7pm on Thursday November 14 in the Commodore Hotel, with a talk on the Craigendoran Steamers and the large-scale model of PS Jeanie Deans on display.
Next is Inveraray, sponsored by Inveraray Inn, with a talk about The Pier and the steamers which used it, along with two large-scale models of the Turbine steamers, Duchess of Hamilton, and King George V. This event will take place in the Inveraray Inn on Saturday November 23 from 11am-5pm.
Last in this tour is Oban, at the Calmac Ferry Terminal, on Saturday November 30, from 11am-4.30pm, with Waverley Souvenir sales, appeal merchandise, the large-scale model of RMS King George V, which many will remember as the Staffa and Iona excursion ship until 1972. Iain Quinn will be on hand to discuss the Oban steamer services and to show a film of Waverley in the Hebrides.
Since the appeal was launched in June donations have been received from more than 7,500 individuals. Applications have also been submitted to more than 40 trusts and foundations to help ensure the target is reached.
Donations can still be made to the Boiler Refit Appeal directly through the waverleyexcursions.co.uk website or by calling 0141 243 2224.
The response to date has been sufficient to place the orders for the boilers and generators in order that the ship can be fitted out with the new equipment in time for the 2020 timetable. She is booked into a shipyard in early January.
This year’s timetable will include Ardrishaig as a destination as well as Liverpool, The Solent and the Thames.
The community spirit for Waverley is quite outstanding and something the company will not forget. There’s a connective thread through Waverley’s history and it’s a very special story. These events are all about thanking the people who have supported the Waverley.