TOP musicians held a concert last week at the Celtic Connections festival to raise the profile of the Maid of the Loch appeal in a bid to help get her sailing on Loch Lomond once again.

The Maid, which is the UK’s last built paddle steamer, has not sailed since 1981 and needs to meet a £5.5 million fund-raising target by this summer to unlock £3.8m in Heritage Lottery Funding required to successfully complete the project.

The sell-out show at the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow featured Phil Cunningham, Eddi Reader, Jimmie MacGregor, Arthur Johnstone, Findlay Napier and Siobhan Miller, who was also the concert’s musical director.

Veteran Scottish folk singer Jimmie MacGregor opened the concert by regaling tales about his time on Loch Lomond and memories of the Maid, while folk musician and composer Phil Cunningham kicked off the music with an accordion instrumental of a piece he had written especially about the paddle steamer.

Phil said: “It was a friend of mine who was involved in the project, Elspeth McLachlan, and she told me what she was doing. I tried to come up with ways of raising awareness and we had a natter.

“We decided to have a concert. There was a lovely atmosphere and a lot of the audience seemed to be familiar with the Maid and there was a warm feeling towards the subject matter.”

All of the tunes, songs and poetry performed on the night related to the Maid and the Loch Lomond area, as well as ship-building on the Clyde and Phil said he was “amazed” at how many songs they found about the Maid when they were organising the concert.

Eddi Reader’s husband John Douglas also wrote a Maid of the Loch song especially for the concert, which was performed by Eddi herself.

John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, said that it was difficult to know exactly how much had been raised as a result of the concert, but that it had had a significant impact on the appeal.

He added: “The fact people who are well known were all singing on the stage and getting behind the appeal has made a huge difference to our support.”