Ar­ran, seven, gives £500 to ship

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

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.

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