A WHOPPING £43,000 has been raised through a crowdfunder aimed to help restore the paddles of Loch Lomond's most famous pleasure steamer.

Last month, the charity which owns the Maid of the Loch were looking for backing from the public to raise £25,000 to purchase essential equipment required to restore both port and starboard paddles.

The Maid of the Loch was hauled out of the water last summer for essential repairs, which the Loch Lomond Steamship Company hopes will eventually lead to the ship being able to carry passengers on cruises on the loch for the first time in more than 40 years.

And the Loch Lomond Steamship Company now says it hopes to use the success of the crowdfunder to bring the ship back into service on the loch by 2025.

All themoney raised will help with the cost of buying and fitting new paddle floats, bearings and bushes as well as overhaul of the ‘jenny nettles’ structure and painting of the interior of the paddle boxes.

The ‘jenny nettles’ is the arrangement that makes the paddles feather, resulting in more efficient propulsion.

On the port side, this is misaligned and requires significant refurbishment.

However, the generosity of individual donors, and a grant of £15,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS), mean that both the port and starboard paddles can be restored.

Jim Mitchell, the charity’s industrial heritage director, said: “We are delighted that PSPS has granted us £15,000.

“This will allow us to finish restoration of the paddles this year and means that when the ship is returned to the loch in 2023, all the below-waterline work will be completed, including, paddles, hull repairs and rudder work, up to the standard required for passenger certification in due course.

“We are hoping this will give funders the confidence to invest in the Maid so that we can be sailing by 2025.

“Sir Boyd Tunnock, a patron of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, also generously donated to the appeal as well as sending lots of caramel wafer biscuits to our hard-working volunteers. These will be much appreciated at tea-time.

“The charity would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who pledged funds to the campaign.”

All those who contributed to the appeal will be given exclusive access to an online virtual tour of the entire ship.

For more information about the Maid of the Loch and to make a donation visit maidoftheloch.org.