PLANS to restore the iconic Maid of the Loch received a massive boost on Monday with the announcement of a £950,000 Scottish Government grant.

Maid of the Loch – Transforming Loch Lomond will receive a share of £26 million awarded from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) to support local projects that engage and involve local communities in disadvantaged areas, tackle inequality and support inclusive growth.

The project, led by the local charity Loch Lomond Steamship Company will restore the “Maid of the Loch”, the historic and last UK-built paddle steamer.

It will become a fully operational steamship and community asset, providing a range of cruising and events experiences all year round.

Welcoming the news, Councillor Iain McLaren, West Dunbartonshire Council’s Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: "It is wonderful news that this exciting project will benefit from this Scottish Government funding. The plans to restore the iconic Maid of the Loch are impressive and, once completed, it will bring a wide range of benefits to Balloch and the wider West Dunbartonshire area.

“The project will be a real catalyst for economic regeneration and community development in West Dunbartonshire.”

The MP for West Dunbartonshire has also praised the determination of the Maid of the Loch's staff, volunteers and supporters for their tireless fundraising efforts over the years.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said: "The Maid of the Loch is an important part of our cultural heritage, and many people have been working very hard for over two decades to restore the ship to her former glory. 

"The Scottish Government's award of a £950,000 grant to support the restoration of this iconic paddle steamer is excellent news for West Dunbartonshire.

"The Maid of the Loch hasn't sailed since 1981, which is far too long for such a beautiful and much-loved ship to be sitting idle.

"I congratulate everyone involved with the Loch Lomond Steamship Company for their tireless efforts in raising the necessary funds to get the Maid back to being fully operation – something which is a key part of regeneration plans for the local area.

"Like many people in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland I have very fond memories of the Maid. It's an exciting prospect that we will soon see this famous paddle steamer sailing once again on Loch Lomond."

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: "I’m really pleased that this fantastic, locally-driven project will benefit from an injection of funding. It will help regenerate the local area, stimulate inclusive growth and create new jobs.

“The focus of the projects being funded this year range from tackling social isolation, mitigating welfare cuts, providing training opportunities, creating business space and increasing tourism – to name but a few. They are an excellent example of how national and local government are working together on shared priorities that benefit local communities.”

Across Scotland 24 projects will be awarded funding in 2018/19, helping to support or create more than 1,400 jobs, refurbish or bring back into use 23 local buildings and support more than 84 community facilities and services.

A total of 119 projects have been recommended for support from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund since 2014/15. Funding has been confirmed for the remainder of the current parliamentary term, subject to annual spending reviews.

The fund, which has been developed in partnership with COSLA and local authorities, is open to all 32 Scottish local authorities and their Special Purpose Vehicles. An independent panel makes recommendations to the Scottish Ministers and COSLA on which projects should receive funding.

A number of these projects will receive grant awards over the period 2018/19- 2020/21 subject to final technical checks and project performance.