Friday, May 19 2017
Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for the National Park area, has recognised the outstanding voluntary and selfless contributions made by a long-serving East Loch Lomond community champion, a Loch Lomond-based journalist and photographer, and a founder of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company towards enriching the special qualities of the National Park for the benefit of visitors and local residents.
At the charity’s recent annual general meeting, awards were given to former Buchanan Community Council secretary Joe Twaddle, Paul Saunders, who runs his media and photography business around Loch Lomond, and John Beveridge, who is one of the main driving forces behind the restoration of the Maid of the Loch steamship at Balloch Pier. All three were recognised as having made an enormous difference to the visitor experience in the National Park in recent years.
Joe Twaddle, who runs Passfoot Bed and Breakfast in Balmaha with his wife Betty, was given the third Hannah Stirling National Park Award in recognition of his hard work, commitment and outstanding service over many years to the well-being of East Loch Lomondside. Joe, who originally came to live in the area 50 years ago to work at the University Field at Rowardennan, had served as secretary of Buchanan Community Council for 37 years before standing down last year. His work in this role included contributing to a number of successful initiatives including sensitive wood extraction and haulage from the area; working with the National Park Authority on the introduction of successful camping byelaws; securing the former toilet block site in the centre of Balmaha for a village green improvement scheme and campaigning for much needed affordable housing in the village. He continues to be an active member of East Loch Lomond Community Trust, which is currently progressing plans to improve Balmaha Village Green. The Hannah Stirling National Park Award was established by the Friends in 2015 in honour of its late former President.
At the award ceremony Joe said: “East Loch Lomond has been part of most of my life and helping to keep it beautiful as part of Scotland’s first National Park is a pleasure to me. I am therefore delighted to pick up this award for simply doing something that I enjoy and am determined to keep doing for as long as possible. East Loch Lomond is a key area in the National Park and, with the help of many others, the Community Trust will continue to work towards its goals.”
The National Park Business Supporter of the Year award went to Paul Saunders, in recognition of his contribution to the success of the Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland project and the Friends of OUR park scheme. The Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland project saw the production of an innovative, eye-catching and colourful booklet and exhibition telling the story of the broadcaster’s life and featuring contributions 300 local primary schoolchildren, which was co-ordinated by Paul. He has also been a business supporter of the Friends for several years, making monthly contributions to the fundraising Friends of OUR park project, and assisted with other schemes including the Celebrating Park People and their Stories programme in 2013.
Paul said: “It is strange to be on the other side of the camera, but a great honour to be recognised in this way. The projects the Friends have involved me in have been a pleasure to be part of, and most recently the Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland booklet has made an excellent contribution towards visitors to the area. The Friends are going to continue to work for people and nature in Scotland’s first National Park and it’s something I’m keen to be a part of to the greatest extent possible.”
Last but by no means least, the Friends recognised the tremendous voluntary efforts of John Beveridge, who for the past 35 years has been at the helm of the efforts to get the Maid of the Loch sailing again. John, of Helensburgh, has been involved with the Maid since 1982 when she was advertised for sale. Ten years later, when the Maid owners were placed into liquidation John, who at the time was a Director at Dumbarton District Council, persuaded the local authority to buy the boat. He then helped set up the Loch Lomond Steamship Company in 1995, and since then the Maid has been refurbished and become a popular static tourist attraction, with the pier rebuilt and the slipway restored. As voluntary project manager working with a number of consultants, John has also recently managed to secure significant funding pledge towards this cause from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
John said: “Ever since that day in 1982 I have been determined to ensure that the Maid of the Loch can operate to the best of her ability, and it is a determination I will retain for many years to come. The interest shown in the Maid every year shows how vital it is that she is maintained, and that every avenue is explored for improvement. I am delighted that I have been recognised in this way by the Friends, and I am looking forward to continuing our successful relationship.”
Friends Chairman James Fraser said: “These three award winners are fully deserving of their recognition and we are delighted for every one of them, as they have helped make a real difference on the ground and have contributed to making the National Park a better place for people to enjoy. We had no hesitation in deciding that all three should receive these awards and we hope they will continue to make contributions to enriching the National park with the many hundreds of volunteers who are active with the Friends and other bodies throughout Scotland’s first National Park.”