THE inventor of the world-famous Tunnock's Teacake has agreed to become the patron of the charity that owns the Maid of the Loch.

Sir Boyd Tunnock CBE, owner of the family confectionery firm, has lent his support to efforts to get the paddle steamer back into operational condition – marking the 25th anniversary of the charity which owns the ship.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC) was established on October 9, 1995 – and a day of special events will be held on board the ship at Balloch Pier this Saturday, October 10, to celebrate the milestone.

John Beveridge, the LLSC's chairman, said he and his colleagues were thrilled to get Sir Boyd’s backing for the project.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sir Boyd has agreed to be our patron. He is one of Scotland’s outstanding business people and to have his support for the Maid is a huge boost to the project.

“In 1995, the Maid was in a sorry state and had almost sunk at the pier. Now we have a brilliant visitor experience with a range of activities for children with engines and paddles turning to thrill adults."

Sir Boyd said, “Last year I was invited to the charity’s first steaming of the Maid’s engines in 38 years, and I appreciate the real potential of this beautiful ship as a boost to the local economy and to Scotland.

"I admire the amount of effort and commitment that the charity has given to restoring this unique ship wish them well for the future."

Since 1995 the charity has raised more than £3.5 million - and has also rebuilt Balloch Pier and the nearby slipway, built a car park and carried out a £1.2m internal refurbishment which included the restoration of her steam engines to full operation.

The charity’s next significant task is to rebuild the slipway next to Balloch Pier, which suffered a structural failure in January 2019 after a rope snapped as the Maid was being winched out of the loch, causing the ship to slide back into the water.

Before that work is undertaken, however, a special 25th anniversary event will be held on board the ship this Saturday, October 10 from 11am to 5pm, when the Maid’s engines will be in steam and a series of commemorative activities will take place.

The Maid is open to the public from 11am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday until November 1.