AN ENGINEER from East Kilbride has carried out essential repair work on the Maid of the Loch - 70 years after his father helped build the ship.

The remarkable connection spanning seven decades has delighted Eddie Van der Stighelen, whose Belgian father was foreman of the engineering workshop at the Glasgow shipyard where the much-loved Loch Lomond paddle steamer was built.

Eddie, whose company specialises in construction industry tools and plant maintenance, offered to restore the Maid of the Loch’s windlass after discovering via social media that help was being sought with the ship’s renovation.

However, the work took on a much deeper significance because of the family’s connection to the ship.

READ MORE: Maid of the Loch needs urgent financial help, charity warns

Eddie explained: “My father, Jan Van der Stighelen, was a Belgian national who served in the Belgian Merchant Navy from before WW2 until the war’s end.

“My parents had met during the war and were married in Glasgow in 1943, but after the war they returned to Belgium where their first two children were born.

“In 1951, the family moved from Belgium to Glasgow and my father started working for the A&J Inglis shipyard at Pointhouse.

“Later that year, work started on building the Maid of the Loch, and as foreman of the engineer’s shop, his skills would have been in much demand.”

The Maid of the Loch was constructed at the Glasgow shipyard, but was dismantled and brought to Balloch where her sections were reassembled.

Eddie said: “My brother, who is four years older than me, remembers being taken in my father’s van to Balloch, presumably to the slipway where the Maid was constructed and launched into Loch Lomond.”

The ship’s windlass, which is required for handling the mooring warps, was in poor condition, and had to be dismantled, cleaned and inspected to ensure it could still be made to work again.

READ MORE: Pandemic 'will cost Loch Lomond and Trossachs 300 jobs by end of June'

Eddie said: “Thanks to the quality of the materials used and the robustness of the design the windlass renovation is almost complete.”

Now he hopes his company, Vantech Engineering Services, will be given the chance to carry out more work on the ship.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC), the charity which owns the Maid, says Eddie’s work is another step forward in its aim of returning the historic ship to full sailing condition.

Chairman John Beveridge said: “The Maid has benefitted from the skills of this amazing engineering family, with Jan the father as the shipbuilder and Eddie his son, almost 70 years later, the renovator.”

The Maid, the last paddle steamer to be built in Britain, underwent a £1.1 million refit last year, though the coronavirus pandemic means she has remained closed this year – with the LLSC warning that funds are urgently needed to keep their hopes alive.

Click here for all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond headlines