Waverley’s manager dismisses ‘sabotage’ claim

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The general manager of Waverley Excursions has denied the suggestion that the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer has been withdrawn from service in order to ‘sabotage’ an independence march in Campbeltown.

Paul Semple has confirmed that the only reason the vessel will not sail this year, for the first time in 45 years, is because the ship’s boilers need replacing.

Manny Singh, operations director of pressure group All Under One Banner (AUOB), told the Courier last week that he believed the withdrawal of the steamer, which had been privately booked to take people to an independence march in July, was ‘a backhanded way of trying to sabotage the numbers appearing’ at the demonstration.

Mr Semple told the Courier: ‘I can totally dismiss any suggestion that the Waverley has been withdrawn from service in an attempt to sabotage the independence march.

‘All involved with the Waverley are deeply saddened that the ship is unable to sail this season. The steamer’s future is under threat and without support at this time Waverley may never steam again.’

As part of the ship’s winter maintenance programme work on the boilers has been ongoing since February and it was following extensive consultation and investigation that it was concluded that the boilers must be replaced if Waverley is to sail again.

Mr Semple added: ‘We are currently scoping the full works required to replace Waverley’s boilers and return her to service. Once we have full costings, we will be launching an appeal.

‘We are very grateful for the donations received since the ship’s withdrawal from service was announced. It is clear from the support so far that many people want to see this iconic steamship sail on for many more years to come rather than become a static exhibit.’

Donations can be made via the registered charity’s website at waverleyexcursions.co.uk, by calling 0141 243 2224 or by texting STEAM followed by a donation of £10 or £20 to 70085.