New Chair for The Maid of The Loch
The charity that exists to preserve and restore the iconic Maid of the Loch as a working paddle steamer on Loch Lomond has announced the appointment of a new high profile chairman to help raise £1.7million by August 2017.
Robin Naysmith, formerly Scotland's diplomatic representative in Washington DC and a senior civil servant in The Scottish Government, has taken over the helm of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, as it enters the next stage of a £7 million journey to get the Maid of the Loch sailing again.
Robin 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.
Robin added: “Having raised £1.9 million to date, the challenge for the charity now is, by fundraising nationally and internationally, to recreate an authentic 1950s cruising experience, surrounded by world class scenery on the bonnie, bonnie banks. 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.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “I am delighted to hear that Robin Naysmith will take the helm of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company. The restoration of one of Scotland’s most treasured vessels has reached an important stage and I’m sure Robin’s vast experience and international connections will help ensure the project is steered to a successful conclusion.
“The Maid of the Loch attracts thousands of visitors every year but the works to restore her to former glory, as a fully operational paddle steamer, will mean that she’ll become an outstanding, first class attraction, drawing even more visitors to the bonnie banks.”
Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “I would like to congratulate Robin Naysmith on his new role as Chairman. The Maid of the Loch has been an iconic fixture in our National Park landscape for over a generation. The dedication and tenacity of the team working to get the Maid sailing again has been building an impressive momentum over recent years. Those involved should be congratulated on the progress so far and we are looking forward to seeing her attract new visitors to the area when she starts sailing again”.
Jackie Baillie the MSP for Dumbarton, which includes Loch Lomond, said: “Robin Naysmith brings with him years of experience of promoting Scottish businesses abroad, which will be very helpful in getting over the final hurdle to reach the fundraising target.
“The board has made extraordinary progress by working with volunteers and businesses in the local community to raise funds and painstakingly restore the Maid to her former glory. Thanks to their efforts, the day that the Maid will sail again along the Bonnie Banks is coming closer.We are blessed with stunning scenery at Loch Lomond, Scotland’s first National Park, and what better way to see it than aboard the Maid of the Loch.”
John Beveridge, Founder and Director of the charity, said: “This is a fantastic appointment for us, with Robin’s connections and experience of working at the highest levels in government and industry. LLSC is 20 years old this year and has the promise of £3.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, so although we need to raise £1.7 million the aim of getting the Maid sailing again on Loch Lomond is within our grasp.”
The Chair of Loch Lomond Steamship Company is an unremunerated post and attracts no expenses.
The 555 tonne Maid of the Loch was built in Glasgow in 1953 and was withdrawn from service in 1981. She was the last large paddle steamer built in Britain.
The steamer was the last in a line of 21 paddle steamers, which have sailed on Loch Lomond dating back almost 200 years.
The refitted Maid of the Loch would carry 400 passengers (previously licensed to carry 1000) and will comply with the latest marine safety standards.
The Loch Lomond Steamship Company is a charity registered in Scotland, founded in March 1996. It has raised - and reinvested - over £1.9 million in the ship and infrastructure, and dedicated over 80,000 hours to conserving and improving the historic steamship.