THE charity raising funds to restore the much-loved Maid of the Loch paddle steamer to working order on Loch Lomond has announced the appointment of Lord Smith of Kelvin as its new patron.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company hopes Lord Smith’s expertise will help open some important doors as they aim to complete their fund-raising drive to return the ‘Maid’ to steam.

Currently the chancellor of Strathclyde University and chairman of a host of major industrial firms, Lord Smith chaired the organising committee for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Smith Commission which oversaw the process of devolving more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

He is also a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and a past governor of the BBC.

Lord Smith said, “I am delighted with my latest role as Patron of the Maid of the Loch. The charity worked hard to raise the funds and just need that final push to raise £1 million required to get the refurbishment started.

“It is an enterprising project that both retains, enhances and celebrates Scottish shipbuilding and our engineering skills, and will be also create a stunning tourist attraction of one of the country’s most famous beauty spots.”

LLSC chairman John Beveridge, who has driven the restoration project for the last 22 years, added: “We are absolutely thrilled to have Lord Smith on board.

“He shares our passion for paddle steamers and he can see the commercial viability once the restoration of the Maid of Loch is complete.”

Built by Glasgow shipbuilders A&J Inglis of Pointhouse on the site of the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the ‘Maid’ is the only known example of an ‘up and doon’ ship – constructed and launched in Glasgow and then disassembled and transported to Loch Lomond before being put back together.