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Daily Record

New exhibition celebrating Skylark IX opens at Dumbarton museum

A new exhibition telling the story of the much-loved Dunkirk little ship Skylark IX has opened at the Denny Tank Museum in Dumbarton.

Hope Floats, which has been curated by the Skylark IX Recovery Project which cares for Skylark IX, charts Skylark’s story from launching as a pleasure boat in 1934 through her wartime service and her sinking in 2010.

The story culminates with her new role inspiring and changing the lives of people recovering from addictions across West Dunbartonshire.

Skylark saved more than 600 allied soldiers during World War Two, transporting them from beaches in Dunkirk to the safety of larger vessels whilst under heavy fire.

She then returned to Loch Lomond and the Leven, operating as a tourist boat for Sweeney’s for more than 30 years before sinking in June 2010.

After two years under water Skylark herself was rescued, with the Skylark Recovery Trust working in partnership with local addiction recovery charity Alternatives to restore her to her former glory.

Skylark is currently undergoing restoration at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine whilst the Skylark IX Recovery Project shapes plans for her future at the heart of the Spirit of Skylark Centre.

Funding permitting, the proposed £3m heritage attraction, community hub and boatbuilding workshop will be located at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s site in Dumbarton – and will enable the project to reach and support more people across the area. In the meantime the new exhibition, made possible by a National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) award in 2018, will allow visitors to the Denny Tank to find out more about Skylark’s fascinating story.

The NLHF award has enabled the Skylark IX Recovery Project to plan vital work to help stabilise Skylark’s condition and deliver boatbuilding training for Alternatives’ community-based recovery service and Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol clients. The project also delivers therapeutic arts and heritage projects for people across the community.

Claire McDade, project manager at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, said: “The Skylark IX Recovery Project was formed out of hope and a belief in the possibility of change and recovery.

“Skylark took part in Operation Dynamo and, today, our indomitable Dunkirk Little Ship is once again a beacon of hope and inspiration for those on their own journey of recovery and those in need within our communities.”

Visitors to Hope Floats can also see the Skylark IX Lockdown Community Patchwork Quilt which remembers Skylark’s role in times of war and peace and celebrates hope.

The quilt was created by 50 people across West Dunbartonshire connecting with the Project during the first Lockdown.

The exhibition also features an Echo Bay Dory model skiff.

The 50cm long rowing boat was crafted by a Skylark Volunteer Trainee when the Skylark IX Boatbuilding Workshop at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton had to close during both Lockdowns and training moved onto Zoom.

Entry to Hope Floats is included in Museum Admission.

Up to three children go free with each adult or concession.