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Swan receives much-needed donation from school pupils

The Swan. Photo: Garry Sandison

THE SWAN Trust has secured a welcome financial boost of £3,000 thanks to pupils from Whalsay School.

The trust was given the money last week via the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, which sees groups of pupils pick a local charity to champion in front of a panel of judges.

The donation comes at a time when the Swan Trust, which looks after the historic sailing training boat, has had its funding from the Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) halved to around £18,000 for the year ahead.

Trust secretary Peter Campbell said it is “really fantastic” to get the money, which follows a similar donation from Aith pupils last year.

“The ones who have supported the Swan Trust both last year and this year have been people who have had trips on the Swan or have had links with the Swan through relatives,” he said.

“It’s great that they’ve taken on board the trust as their local charity.”

The funding from the SCT – which was once amounted to over £70,000 – is due to be phased out over the coming few years as it reins in its spending.

The boat’s annual operating costs stand at around £90,000 to £100,000 and if these are not met in the future then it may have to become a “museum piece” instead of offering trips out at sea.

“We basically try to find money and sell as many trips as we can to gain the figure that we need,” Campbell said.

“We put together a programme each year and we advertise it and hopefully we get that.

“It’s a significant sum of money that you need, and if you don’t have an income sufficient to meet your costs, then you’re not going to survive.”

As well as offering day trips and training opportunities, the Swan this year will take part in the Tall Ships race in July, which leaves Sunderland before heading to Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

Also on the schedule this summer is the Portsoy boat festival near Banff and a trip to Lofoten in Norway.

The Swan is a former herring drifter built in Lerwick in 1900. In 1982 it ended up in Hartlepool before being brought back to the isles in the 1990s thanks to the Swan Steering Group.

The Swan Trust was formed in 1990 and its six-year restoration project was completed when the boat was relaunched in Lerwick harbour in 1996.

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