High praise on the high seas for Ardrishaig pupils

Ardrishaig Primary School pupils were rewarded for their kindness to Ukrainians with a free sail on the Waverley.

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When Argyll school children realised the trauma their peers in Ukraine were facing they responded with donations, art work and heartfelt messages of support.

Ardrishaig Primary School had been studying the European refugee crisis caused by World War II when, in February, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in tens of millions of citizens being forced to flee.

Among the displaced Ukrainians were children that were given refuge in a Polish school and, when a local contact put the Argyll children in touch with the young refugees there, an exchange of correspondence began.

Now a number of Ukrainian families have made their way to Argyll from their war-torn country and are settling in as guests with households here.

Mary McSporran Moir and Alastair McLean of the Mid Argyll Pipe Band entertained the passengers.

On Sunday June 19 some of these families and the Ardrishaig primary pupils were among the first cruisers in 21 years to board PS Waverley at Ardrishaig following an invitation from Waverley Excursions for the youngsters to sail for free in recognition of their kindness.

A spokesperson for Waverley Excursions said: ‘Thanks to everyone that joined Waverley this afternoon and to all the pupils who joined the ship from Ardrishaig Primary School for the afternoon cruise on Loch Fyne.

‘Pupils from Ardrishaig Primary were invited aboard in recognition of their support towards Ukrainian refugees.’

Amanda Duffy Brown and Nikki Thompson, organisers of the Mid Argyll Helps Ukraine group which has sent lorryloads of aid to Ukraine and Poland, were also invited onboard.

Appeal co-ordinators Nikki Thompson and Amanda Duffy Brown were granted permission to visit the bridge.

Nikki said: ‘The kids had a fantastic day. When they announced the children were on board and had been supporting Ukraine they were given a round of applause.

‘They were all given a Waverley postcard and pencil as a wee memento of their special day; they were treated like celebrities.

‘Amanda and I were also invited aboard and had a lovely time and we even got on to the bridge which is quite special.’

Ten-year-old Caragh Mackay was inspired by the trip to research the paddle steamer’s history and wrote a fact-file for her class.

Caragh Mackay was inspired by her trip to research PS Waverley’s history.

Describing her trip on Loch Fyne she said: ‘It felt funny, like I was walking on the waves.’

Local mum Emma Cameron responded to the invitation saying: ‘Thank you so much for this kind gesture; we had a brilliant time. And thank you to the very generous passenger who treated the children to some souvenirs – an afternoon to remember.’

Waverley’s next sailing to Ardrishaig will be on Sunday August 7.