Teacake tycoon Sir Boyd Tunnock has taken on a new role as patron of the charity which owns a historic Loch Lomond paddle steamer to mark their 25th anniversary.

The charity which owns Maid of the Loch is celebrating the milestone this weekend and is delighted to have a new patron at the helm.

On October 9, 1995 the Loch Lomond Steamship Company was established, and to help mark the silver jubilee, the charity is thrilled to reveal Sir Boyd's appointment and such an important time in their history.

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Chairman John Beveridge said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sir Boyd has agreed to be 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.”

Despite some of the challenges which the coronavirus has brought, the charity hopes to keep the paddle steamer afloat. In June they launched a £25,000 crowdfunder to recover some of the lost income during lockdown. It came just weeks after the Maid’s engines were fired up for the first time in almost four decades following an extensive £1.2 million restoration project.

Speaking of his appointment as patron Sir Boyd, CBE, 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”.

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Maid of the Loch was given free of charge to the charity in 1995, and in that time it has raised over £3.5 million, but it has also had to rebuild Balloch Pier, the slipway, and build a car park. The most recent success has been the £1.2 million refit of the Maid which has seen internal refurbishment of two main rooms, the installation of a lift, and the restoration of her steam engines to full operation.

Mr Beveridge added: "What an achievement. 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.”

The Maid of the Loch first launched in 1953 with a licence to carry 1,000 passengers. Advertised as having “commodious saloons” and serving “lunches and teas of the highest quality at popular prices”, she was the last – and largest – in a long line of paddle steamers to sail on Loch Lomond.

The vessel hosted royal guests, celebrities and three million day-trippers during her 28 years in operation. But with the rise of overseas travel, passenger numbers fell and the steamer was decommissioned.

However, the charity remains hopeful for the future.

Mr Beveridge added: “The charity’s aim has always been to restore the Maid to operational condition. Before we can proceed, we need to rebuild the slipway which suffered a structural failure when we tried to bring the Maid out of the water last January. Because of the Covid crisis we are struggling to raise the necessary funds, but that is our number one priority. With Sir Boyd now at the helm we face the future with confidence”.

The anniversary event is on Saturday when the engines will be “In Steam”, and special activities are planned. The Maid remains open from 11am to 5pm on Wednesdays to Sundays until November 1.