15th March 2017, 17:11
Businesses back Viola appeal
The team behind a plan to bring an historic steam trawler to her home port of Hull are targeting their regional and international businesses contacts to meet the estimated cost of £1.75 million.
The Viola Trust, which is leading the project, has already received cash and in-kind support from maritime companies and other sectors and is now stepping up its fund-raising campaign.
Paul Escreet, chair of the trustees, will seek donations from maritime contacts around the world, reflecting the global significance of a vessel which has served owners in the UK, Norway, Africa and Argentina.
‘We’re looking at a very big financial target but the Viola has a very big history internationally and we hope that will strike a chord with our contacts in the global shipping industry,’ he said.
‘I’ll be asking my contacts to make a donation and to also pass details of the campaign to their contacts. That cascade approach should enable us to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time, and that’s vital if we are to bring the Viola back before her condition deteriorates.’
A survey by Solis Marine Consultants has established that the Viola is in good enough condition to be moved from her current location on a beach in Grytviken Harbour, South Georgia.
The Trust has now put together a fund-raising plan and launched a website for the project. The site at www.violatrawler.net tells the story of the Viola and sets out the vision of developing her as a tourist attraction and as a training facility for a new generation of engineers.
The site also features a fund-raising link with supporters able to make general donations, however small, or specify particular items and areas on the vessel. A pledge of £500 will buy a bucket of rivets, and there are other levels right up to £50,000 for Captain’s Circle supporters.
The site was designed and build by Hull-based Genesis IT and other backing for the Trust has ranged from ABP providing quayside space for renovation of the Viola to donations from key contacts of the trustees.
‘We are very excited to be able to get involved in the Viola project. The story behind the trawler is extremely fascinating and, with Hull being City Of Culture for 2017, there’s no better time to be on board with the venture,’ said Genesis marketing director Luke Pykett.
The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has given its approval for the Viola to take a starring role in Hull City Council’s proposed new maritime heritage displays. Once the ship is back in Hull, the Trust plans to set up an innovative apprenticeship scheme, giving people the skills to restore Viola as an education centre and as a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives in the war at sea.
The Trustees are all experts in maritime matters. Paul Escreet is Chairman of Hessle-based SMS Towage Ltd. Dr Robb Robinson is a historian based in the University of Hull’s Maritime Historical Studies Centre. Rear Admiral Nick Lambert is a master mariner. Dominic Ward is Senior Partner at Andrew Jackson Solicitors and a specialist in shipping law for more than 30 years. The patron is Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson.
Simon Coghlan, Managing Director of Immingham-based shipping agency Graypen Group, said that they are delighted to sponsor the Viola Trust Project.
‘Graypen and GP Shipping evolved from humble origins in the Humber Estuary and we therefore felt it very important to help and play our part in bringing the Viola back to its rightful home. We shall watch with excitement and anticipation as this historic day moves closer, it is a very exciting project and one that the whole Humber area should be very proud of,’ he commented.
‘We have traded independently since the 1960s and we specialise in marine and related general trades insurance,’ Tim Gilbert, director of Everard Insurance Brokers. ‘Our areas of expertise are even more varied than those of the Viola and include the fishing and military sectors in which she excelled. We are therefore pleased to support and be associated with such a historic maritime project and to help bring her back to Hull.’
Source: Viola Trust