Arran, seven, gives £500 to ship
AN OBAN schoolboy surprised restorers of Scotland’s last surviving turbine steamship, the TS Queen Mary, on his seventh birthday by donating a cheque for £500, writes Sandy Neil.
Boat-mad Arran Budge, a pupil at Rockfield Primary School, asked his parents, Norman and Karen, to visit the 1930s steamship in Glasgow for a birthday present, and a surprise was hatched.
The 250ft Clyde-built steamer, which gave its name to the ocean liner Queen Mary, once carried more than 2,000 passengers from Glasgow to Arran, Rothesay, Inveraray and Campbeltown.
Retired in 1977, she languished as a floating restaurant in London, until the Friends of the TS Queen Mary, backed by actor Robbie Coltrane, launched a campaign to raise £2 million to restore and berth her back on the Clyde as an arts and education venue. Arran’s dad Norman said: ‘She was destined for the breakers but they managed to raise money to buy and save her, and last May returned her to the Clyde.’
Arran’s family secretly organised a birthday tour, and raised money from local businesses to donate to the cause.
Trustee Iain Sim said: ‘Arran came to Glasgow for a birthday treat – ostensibly an overnight stay in the city. What he didn’t know was that the very next day he was going to get to step aboard Queen Mary for a private tour with Captain Ayad Isoud.
‘What we didn’t know was that Arran had been raising money for his favourite ship. We were absolutely bowled over when he presented us with a cheque for £500!
‘Afterwards Arran declared the day “the best birthday ever”.
‘Queen Mary is a special ship and we know that so many loved sailing on her all those years ago. However, a whole new generation now has the chance to fall in love with her also.’
Norman, whose father was Oban’s harbour master and piermaster for 30 years, added: ‘The captain said hopefully Arran will one day go to sea and become a captain. He just loves it and is desperate to go back. It’s a beautiful ship...and he’s a happy lad.’
Arran with Captain Ayad Isoud and Iain Sim.