A NEW chairman has been appointed to oversee the restoration of the Maid of the Loch.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, the charity responsible for the Maid of the Loch, has appointed former Scottish diplomatic representative in Washington DC Robin Naysmith as its chair.

Mr Naysmith, who spent the latter part of his career promoting Scotland internationally, said he was delighted to be joining the charity: “Our aim is to restore the Maid of the Loch as a fully operational paddle steamer with all the economic benefits that it will bring to Loch Lomond and to Scotland.

"She is a national treasure with a fascinating history and an important place in Scotland’s rich maritime history.

"When fully restored and operational, the Maid will be a huge visitor attraction for Loch Lomond and the surrounding area."

The charity has raised £1.9m so far and is endeavouring to reach £7m in order to recreate the authentic 1950s cruising experience on the Loch. Mr Naysmith added: "Fully operational, the Maid of the Loch will create at least 25 new jobs and attract an additional 95,000 visitors a year to Loch Lomond, a significant economic bonus to local communities and businesses.

"This is a hugely exciting project and I hope it will appeal to friends of Scotland all over the world.”

Outgoing chairman Phil Preston has done a lot of work already to get the Maid in shape and keep it that way. The board has worked with volunteers and businesses in the local community to raise funds and restore the Maid.

John Beveridge, founder of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company said: “It's fantastic news, Robin is a top Scot and he's the exact type of person we need to take the helm.

“We've gotten to the stage where we have money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and they've promised £3.8m and we need to raise £1.7m to match it.

“Robin has excellent experience and is going to be the right kind of man to take us forward. His credentials are excellent and had two years in one of the top jobs for Scotland.

He's got great contacts and skills and we hope he will put them to good use for the Maid of the Loch.”