The volunteer who saved Waverley paddle steamer recognised in King's Birthday Honours

The PS Waverley, marking its 50th anniversary of being saved for preservation, last month embarked on what will be its most extensive tour of the UK for 40 years

A volunteer who helped restore the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer and hopes to achieve the same success with a pleasure boat on Loch Lomond has been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours.

John Beveridge, 71, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to paddle steamer preservation and charity. Mr Beveridge enjoyed childhood trips on paddle steamers and his involvement in restoration projects dates back to the 1970s.

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The PS Waverley is the last seagoing paddle steamer and it regularly travels from its base on the Clyde as far as the Bristol Channel after Mr Beveridge led a team of volunteers to raise £3.6 million to restore it.

PS Waverley makes her way down the river Clyde on her first sailing of 2024. Picture: John DevlinPS Waverley makes her way down the river Clyde on her first sailing of 2024. Picture: John Devlin
PS Waverley makes her way down the river Clyde on her first sailing of 2024. Picture: John Devlin

He now hopes to see the Maid of the Loch fully restored and sailing again on Loch Lomond under her own steam.

Mr Beveridge, who lives in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, founded the Loch Lomond Steamship Company and educated himself on applying for grants as a hobby, leading a team of 40 volunteers, in addition to being director of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

The father-of-two is now on the board of directors for the Waverley Paddle Steamer after stepping down as chairman.

His royal honour comes close to the anniversary of the Waverley’s maiden voyage, on June 16 1947, and Mr Beveridge said he hopes the recognition will renew interest in the Maid of the Loch project.

Mr Beveridge said: “The honour is for work I did on Maid of the Loch, which was a wreck and sinking in the 1990s. I helped save the Waverley back in 1974 when she was given to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for £1.

“The Waverley is more than 70 years old, it’s a great advert for Scotland. It’s been 25 years I’ve been involved in Maid of the Loch and volunteers are still helping to restore it. The aim is that she will sail again on Loch Lomond, hopefully one of these days.

“I’m involved in trying to get Helensburgh pier reopened so the Waverley can call at it. The first paddle steamer was the Comet in 1812, but over the years they became too expensive.

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“We got £1m from the Scottish Government about four years ago to get the engines of the Waverley working again for the first time in about 40 years.”

Mr Beveridge said the Maid of the Loch – a pleasure steamer which took tourists out on Loch Lomond, Argyll and Bute, one of Scotland’s most famous beauty spots – still needs a lot of work.

He said: “Hopefully this will get it a bit more publicity.”

The PS Waverley, marking its 50th anniversary of being saved for preservation, last month embarked on what will be its most extensive tour of the UK for 40 years.

The vessel will venture into the Thames and the Bristol Channel during the sailing season.

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