THE campaign to help get the Maid of the Loch sailing on Loch Lomond again has received international support.

The Maid is the UK’s last-built paddle steamship and countless passengers enjoyed sailing on Loch Lomond aboard the Maid between 1953 and 1981.

But after the ship was decommissioned, the Maid was left derelict on the shore of Loch Lomond for 15 years.

In 1996, charity the Loch Lomond Steamship Company took responsibility for the ship, and set out on a mission to fully restore her to sail on Loch Lomond again.

The ambitious fundraising campaign, to raise £125,000 in just six weeks, kicked off on October 27.

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 Friday, December 1 the fundraising appeal was at £68,324, boosted by two donations.

The largest donation, £25,000, came from Graeme Varley, who lives in Manchester.

He was born in Greenock and spent his early childhood there. As a teenager he sailed on the Maid and was inspired to support the campaign because of his happy memories.

Mr 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 furthest donation came all the way from Calgary, in Alberta, Canada.

The $5,500 CAD was donated 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 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.

Were he alive today, Ben’s family say his voice would be among the loudest in support of the campaign.

Another far reaching response came from New Zealand, from one of the Maid’s first members of staff, who answered the call for missing parts of the ship.

John Beveridge, chair of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, said: “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.

Mr Beveridge said that all involved had been delighted with the response so far.

He said: “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 and every single gift gets us closer.”

The campaign ends on Friday, December 8. To donate or respond to the appeal for missing items visit