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MV Balmoral -Newsletter July 2016

Wonderful News - Major Donation to support MV Balmoral

MV Balmoral Fund Limited are delighted to announce receipt of a major donation to assist with the ongoing preservation of MV Balmoral. Phillip Cade, well known lifelong coastal cruising supporter and former Paddle Steamer Preservation Society Wessex Branch Chairman has most generously donated the amazing sum of £59,000 in support of Balmoral.

The donation was negotiated on behalf of Balmoral Fund Limited by Tim Wardley, who actively represents Balmoral in his role as Chairman of the National Piers Society liaising with, among others, HM Government, Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund.

Phillip presented the donation cheque to Captain David Howie and Richard Mills, Treasurer of the Fund, on board Balmoral at Southampton on June 12, saying:

"I am delighted to be able to make this donation to M.V. Balmoral, the purpose of which is to ensure that Balmoral remains in full operational condition and continues to offer traditional Coastal Cruising.

This is intended to allow the public the opportunity to view areas of the coast aboard this award winning heritage vessel that would not otherwise be possible.

It is hoped that it will also justify the expenditure needed to maintain and improve pier landing stages and other Coastal infrastructure by ensuring M.V. Balmoral is able to utilise these facilities fully, and maximise the efforts between White Funnel and the National Piers Society to expand the network of calling points - an important element of the ship's endorsement by the Coastal Communities Fund and an important contributor to the tourist economies of seaside towns and the piers which serve them.

I also hope that this donation will encourage others to donate to M. V. Balmoral"

MV Balmoral Fund Limited expresses their most grateful thanks for such a generous donation which will help to ensure M.V. Balmoral's preservation into the 21st century.


Philip Cade presents his magnificent cheque to Captain David Howie
with a delighted Fund Treasurer Richard Mills

"Brief" Season Report - So Far

To report on season so far, well simply it could have been better. We have had bad luck by the "lifeboat full!" Our mechanical problems with the generator (again) and the port propeller shaft bearing has lost us sailing days. But it was better for it to have been at the start of the season rather than middle or high season.

Then we have had (again) really poor weather resulting in the unfortunate cancellation of some sailings. But it is far from all being bad news. We have had some excellent days of good passenger numbers with several excellent sails up the Thames and under Tower Bridge.

Another excellent day was fittingly on the Balmorals 67th Birthday (Mon 27th June) where we celebrated onboard with Birthday cakes sailing around the Isle of Sheppey again with excellent numbers. This really was a special sailing, another first for Balmoral (and I believe any similar vessel) a first ever sailing around Sheppey.

When you consider where Balmoral has sailed in her career it is hard to find new sailings - but we are looking!

In fact all feedback from our passengers (our customers) is very good, we have had some great comments on Trip Advisor and direct to office. All remark how good the ship is, how beautiful she is and how happy, welcoming and friendly our crew are.

Come Aboard and join MV Balmoral Fund as a Member

Delighted to report that since creating our new style membership (announced in the last Newsletter and on our website) we have been delighted with the initial response. Many supporters of Balmoral (from all corners of the UK) have joined up - many taking "Life Memberships, and most for 3 Year Terms. This is very encouraging for us, to see the confidence so many people have in our ship and not least helping financially.

Many benefits are to be had by becoming an actual member, supporting and helping keeping our great and much loved ship sailing. These include:

  • MV Balmoral Book (written by maritime author Mike Tedstone)
  • Electronic Newsletters
  • MV Balmoral Enamel Badge
  • MV Balmoral - Car / Windom Sticker
  • Two Free Child Sailing Tickets per season
  • Opportunity to get involved by volunteering on and with Balmoral making new friends and having fun

Membership Rates are very reasonable:

You can download a membership brochure and Application Form from our website, see link on front page, or pick up a leaflet and actually join onboard. You can hand in your completed form and pay at the souvenir shop on Balmoral.

We really do need your support so if you love Balmoral please become a member now.


Balmoral Volunteers Doing Great Job
But More Help still needed..............

Pictured here are the very hard working Thames Volunteers who did such a good job for us with distribution of leaflets and meeting and problem solving as pier and jetty hosts. Not to mention ship board commentaries, selling of Balmoral Gazettes, souvenir maps and of course Grand Prize Draw Tickets.

The Thames group pictured here being thanked by Captain Howie for their superb efforts are (and I hope I have this correct) L to R Graham Westley, Maggie Urquhart; Capt Howie; David Braisted; Richard Turner; Nicholas or Anthony Meads; Pam Bolton; Peter Bushell; Roger Bolton; Charlie Turner.

John Thomas and Dick Clague and their crew are equally doing a great job while Balmoral is in North Wales & Liverpool and the Isle of Man this coming weekend. However we could do with more help everywhere, especially in North Wales and the Bristol Channel where she returns on 26th July and of course for our exciting four days adventure when Balmoral has a nostalgic return to the Clyde 23rd to 26th September.

If you are able and willing to help in any aspect at all, it really would be very much appreciated please just log onto main fund website www.mvbalmoral.org.uk click on Volunteer and then click on Volunteer Support, it really could not be easier.

All our volunteers are vital to the overall success of Balmoral but we do really need your help, and while it may sound like work, it really is often a lot of fun, you get to meet great people and above all you are helping greatly to keep Balmoral sailing.

Thanks for your support............

We meet and say Thanks to Fred Olsen & Rachael Jackson


Fred Olsen Cruise lines the company who have been marvellous to us, just happen to be based in Ipswich. Now we were sailing out of Ipswich on June 1st and it was our very great pleasure to have onboard as our guest Rachael Jackson, Public Relations Manager for Fred. Olsen, "probably the finest cruise line in the world" - well they are to us anyway!

Janet Small our General Manager arranged to be onboard to meet with and give a great welcome to our distinguished guest. Rachel also met with Captain Howie and presented him with a Fred Olsen Crest.

We in turn took the opportunity of presenting Rachel with a wonderful framed Tony Horn Print of Balmoral leaving Worthing Pier. Rachel was full of praise for our "little" Balmoral and thoroughly enjoyed her day; she said our ship would take a prominent place at Fred Olsen head office to remind them all of our great association.

MV Balmoral - National Historic Ships Flagship of the Year 2016 - Receives her "Flagship Pennant"


Balmoral Fund president Nigel Coombes proudly presents to Captain Sam Guy (Relief M
aster) at a brief stopover in very sunny Menai Bridge on Friday July 8th ...


...and with it flying proudly from the Jack staff as the voyage continued.

I really would be very pleased to receive any pictures of our ship (anywhere in UK) preferably with recognisable landmarks in the background and of course picking up the Flagship Pennant flying proudly on Balmoral.

And Finally

Please send me news and especially pictures of Balmoral as she makes her way around the UK this summer. Cannot guarantee to print everything but your contribution would be very welcome, send to paul.doubler@btinternet.com and where ever ship is please sail as often as you can, (and persuade your family and friends to sail as well) have great days afloat on our wonderful ship.

CHECK LIST
To Volunteer: - www.mvbalmoral.org.uk
Balmoral Raffle Grand Prize Draw Tickets to Sell: - paul.doubler@btinternet.com
Brochures & Posters for Distribution: - tickets@whitefunnel.co.uk or Tel 0117 326 5200
Book Tickets & Sailing Updates: - www.whitefunnel.co.uk
To Set up a Legacy: - johnthomas23@gmail.com

Happy Sailings - Paul Doubler


Balmoral Bear reading the Balmoral Gazetter
Both available and selling very well onboard now!

 
 

So onto the Thames ...

I am sure avid Balmoral followers will be aware of our recent mechanical problems. On light passage from Penarth to Swansea Monday 16th a bearing on the port propeller shaft overheated causing damage to both the bearing and shaft.

As a result the port engine could not be used and following dispensation from the MCA, Balmoral completed her move to Avonmouth on Weds 18th May - on one engine.

Following detailed examination in Avonmouth by our technical managers, Andrew Weir Ship Management Limited, and other parties a programme of repairs was agreed and implemented.

The work was successfully completed by our engineers with great support from Sharpness Dry Docks & Ship Repairs. Full testing and checks were made on a sea trial Saturday morning 28th and thankfully everything was good to go.

As I write she has sailed successfully around the south coast and is safely anchored off Southend ready to resume “normal service on the Thames on Tuesday, 31 May. While this is of course very disappointing and indeed of concern re lost income in what is a critical year for us, there are some positives.

Yes hard to believe but there are! I was onboard last Saturday morning in Avonmouth - the ship was a hive of activity. Besides the obvious engine room activity, every member of our crew was set to with paint brushes, cleaning, polishing, varnishing and many other things. Our President Nigel Coombes was also onboard later in the week and we both concurred that the old lady has never looked better. In fact she looked fantastic!

The other positive is that while we could of course done without these problems, if it had to happen, in home waters where “help was at hand” was the place for it to occur. In very early season and with last weekend’s poor weather it was certainly better to now than having problems on the Thames, or in the full blown, full on busy summer season.

What we have to do now is to ensure that we sing her praises and get the message out loud and clear that our great ship is back “better than ever”. We still have the vast bulk of a very exciting summer season ahead.

I personally have several trips away from my home in Cardiff planned. Looking forward very much to for the first time ever sailing up the Thames and under Tower Bridge, then up to Llandudno and Liverpool in early July and taking the lady wife for a weekend on the Isle of Man. Then treating her very royally by doing the trip down to Padstow on Sept 5th and spending a few nights in that lovely little Cornish town.

Further good news is that many of these “specials “are booking well, so to ensure your place – as Fred Pontin used to say – “Book Early”! I do hope that you as a lover of Balmoral will take every opportunity to sail with us this summer and encourage friends and family as well.

We are indebted (as ever) to our wonderful volunteers who are spreading the word and (posters and leaflets) around our various “ports of call”, also our pier hosts who are doing such an important job. (We would still very much appreciate additional help in doing this, especially on the Thames and South Coast – can you help?)

Then of course our dedicated office team at White Funnel who are literally “working their socks off” doing everything possible to manage and promote the ship and maximise our passenger loadings. Finally thanks to the small group of volunteers whose assistance in the White Funnel office is invaluable.

A Very Special Day

A further huge positive was the ships special booking on Saturday 14th, it was a resounding success. It was a special booking by a young people’s “events company” who brought approx 400 passengers onboard all aged between about 20 & 30 – They had a great day onboard with their own music with DJ and sets.

The sun actually shone and they all enjoyed a great day aboard. Many were “Tweeting live” from the ship, you could see them enjoying themselves and dancing the day away – while spending a lot of money on “refreshments” onboard.

They all behaved themselves and it really was excellent that a whole new generation of young people found our ship - and loved it. Also spreading the word about Balmoral to a new “untapped audience” via social media!

This is what we have to do, encourage new audiences who find, enjoy and return to the ship. The event organisers were so pleased they are already talking to us about more bookings for next summer.

Balmoral New Membership Scheme

Before talking about the future, I wish to pay full tribute to the small band of wonderful people who came together at our ships time of greatest need. Her future looked extremely bleak, but literally “against all odds” by pulling together and forming the MV Balmoral Fund, quite amazingly she was saved and returned last year to carrying passengers.

Without this group who met regularly onboard in Bristol over two hard tough years– it would have been a very different story. They each “individually” did so much, all having their own special talent or skill which combined (as I have said before) to enable us to put all the pieces into the big Balmoral jig saw.

We are forever indebted to these fine people who have contributed so much and will continue to do so into what we all know is a challenging but hopefully exciting future. Since returning to sailing we have now been joined by many wonderful supporters and volunteers all around the UK – All linked by a strange fascination and love for 735 tons of steel.

Everybody is very welcome and each plays a great part in our success story. So now to the future -I am delighted to advise that we are now fully set up and open to “welcome aboard members” to our organisation.

You can now find our splendid new Balmoral leaflet onboard, or can down load it from the new Membership Section of our Website at www.mvbalmoral.org.uk

The leaflet is designed to be multi functional. It tells the history of the ship, and her conservation story, it links the past into today / White Funnel and booking cruises. It explains why we will always need donations and volunteer assistance all around the UK and it invites all to become a member of our charity, that’s sole aim is to keep Balmoral sailing! (A Standing Order Form is also there to download.)

We would very much like you to join us and become a member. Membership terms and rates are very competitive. There are many advantages and benefits of joining and we sincerely hope you will. Of course all are very welcome; we want everybody who has an affinity for Balmoral to join.

But especially welcome would be anybody who has and is able to come forward and help in whatever area of skill or expertise they could offer. We are only a small team of dedicated supporters who would very much welcome anyone who can and would like to “get involved”.

We are a friendly and very diverse bunch, who all have one interest in common - keeping Balmoral sailing. There are really so many ways to actively get involved and help. Great friendships are made (and while we all don’t agree all of the time) we still have fun.

We each get a massive sense of pride and satisfaction in the fact that all our efforts collectively keep a very expensive 66 year old “Classic Lady” sailing. When I am on Penarth Pier and she steams into sight, I cannot help it but every time tiers comes to my eyes - I suppose that must explain my involvement and why I do it.

Of course it is not possible and we understand that for many reasons every supporter and lover of Balmoral cannot participate and be actively involved. We all have huge commitments; it can be work, families, health, geography or many various reasons why somebody who would like to but cannot “at this time” help.

However just by joining and being a passive supporter, you will feel and be very much a part of the organisation. Just being a member will support the ship. It is hoped it will become “in time” a vibrant and interesting organisation.

Possibly in the future regional branches may be set up and winter meetings and get togethers’ held? Possibly next summer we could have a special member’s cruise? An active AGM day that isn’t just the usual formalities but also perhaps having a presentation or talk on related subject, closing AGM with a “Live Auction” of Balmoral and ships memorabilia, books etc.

All is possible and great things can be done with our new organisation. It is only really only dependant on the participation and enthusiasm of us the members. We have one such new volunteer who has come forward and has to be introduced.

Our new Membership Secretary Steve Jones. Steve hails from and lived in the Midlands working in the locomotive industry. Loving the sea and to be closer to his three daughters on retiring Steve and his good lady wife moved to Clevedon.

He actually overlooks the channel and Clevedons famous pier. Always having an interest in Balmoral and a reader of this Newsletter he kindly offered his services some time back when we appealed for someone to run the membership.

He is now virtually ready and looks forward to the postman straining under the weight of his sack carrying many membership applications up to his front door. Steve you are very welcome!

Wonderful News

We are excited to receive news of a substantial donation as follows and that further news will follow in a future Newsletter. Statement from Phillip Cade;

" I am delighted to be able to make this donation to M.V. Balmoral, the purpose of which is to ensure that M. V. Balmoral remains in full operational condition and continues to offer traditional Coastal Cruising. This is intended to allow the public the opportunity to view areas of the coast aboard this award winning heritage vessel that would not otherwise be possible. It is hoped that it will also justify the expenditure needed to maintain and improve pier landing stages and other Coastal infrastructure by ensuring M.V. Balmoral is able to utilise these facilities fully, and maximise the efforts between White Funnel and the National Piers Society to expand the network of calling points - an important element of the ship's endorsement by the Coastal Communities Fund. It is also hoped that this donation will encourage others to donate to M.V. Balmoral."
Phillip R Cade. 26 May 2016

And Finally

There is much more news to report but sadly it will have to be kept for next time. A tribute and our thanks to the fine people who came forward and helped our sponsored ships items appeal.They helped greatly in getting us ready for sea.

Mention also must be made and great appreciation paid to Tony Horn of Worthing who has been a massive friend and supporter of Balmoral. He has done so much for us over the years, but has this year has been just superb.

He is a craftsman and has “hand built” the splendid wooden seat backs now seen on deck and also “handmade” the new port and starboard bridge ladders. A tribute and thanks to Tony and others will follow. Let the sun shine and the lightest of winds follow Balmoral, with good fortune and many happy passengers enjoying our ship. See you onboard..................

Balmoral Newsletter Number 5
1 June 2016

 

 
 

Balmoral Starts Challenging 2016 Season

balmoralWell we are here at last. After a massive amount of work from so many people our ship starts her second exciting season under our ownership. Thanks to the amazing efforts of Captain Howie and his new crew, our volunteers and the excellent White Funnel staff the 1001 things required before casting off - are all completed.

It was obviously a huge disappointment to all that Friday’s first planned sailing of the season had to be cancelled due to a mechanical problem, but it was unavoidable.

However a “sell out” Saturday group booking will help the coffers. We now look forward to a fantastic “mouth watering” programme ahead with 116 days sailings into 55 different piers, ports, harbours breakwaters and jetties all around the UK.

I am sure (like me) you have been excitedly looking at opportunities to sail, with so many interesting cruises to choose from. All time tables are now available and the full sailing programme is complete.

You can book your tickets on the White Funnel Website www.whitefunnel.co.uk and also (if you haven’t already) get your season ticket for your own sailing area.

If you plan to sail a lot this summer these season tickets really represent great value for money:
National Season Ticket £495.
Bristol Channel = £295
South Coast = £200
London = £280
North Wales Etc = £215
Scotland = £95

To purchase yours now please down load the booking form from the White Funnel website at www.whitefunnel.co.uk or call the office on 0117 325 6200

Individual Voyage / Sailing Tickets from now until August are live on White Funnel Website.

Remaining September and October sailings available to book soon. To be assured of your place on some very special sailings please buy your tickets early.

Balmoral Membership

After very careful planning and a great deal of hard work behind the scenes we are about to launch a new Balmoral Fund Members organisation.

This will literally be up and running over the next week or so. It is an exciting initiative, where we are creating a support organisation for the many lovers and followers of Balmoral to join together.

Time does not permit more information now but all details will be with you in the next Newsletter. It will soon be on our Balmoral Fund website, with the new informative membership leaflets available onboard ship shortly.

Pier & Harbour Host Volunteers Still Needed

Please can you give some time and help the ship when she is in your home waters? It really would be very much appreciated.

For further information and all details of what’s involved please go to http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport

We have so much to do to ensure Balmorals future, but having a great season with “please god” some wonderful weather and lots of happy passengers will be the greatest contribution to our ship success.

Good Luck Balmoral and to Captain Howie and his crew. Happy and enjoyable sailing to us all...................

Paul Doubler
Newsletter Number 4
Friday May 13th

 

 
 
MV Balmoral – Newsletter Number 3 2016

balmoral sailing days

National Flagship of the Year 2016 – MV Balmoral

We are delighted to report that Balmoral, a very proud member of the very special list of the United Kingdom’s Historic and very special fleet of ships has been named the National Flagship for 2016.

Our ship wins £500 and the honour of flying the “Flagships” Pennant from the masthead on her voyages throughout the season.

Martyn Heighton, Director National Historic Ships UK said about the award:

“I am delighted that MV Balmoral has been awarded the accolade of National Flagship of the Year. This reflects the unstinting energy and commitment that MV Balmoral Fund Ltd., its volunteers, helpers and supporters have given to this Bristol ship.

Balmoral has gone through hard times recently and it is a tribute to all concerned that not only is this ship still with us to grace the Floating Harbour, but also that the new organisation has won the confidence of the Coastal Communities Fund and other grant bodies to make her seaworthy again in order to enable her to undertake this ambitious UK-wide programme. This is a proud moment for Balmoral and her home port of Bristol”.

We are of course very honoured to receive this award. It is very much a reflection on the hard work, effort and great commitment that so many people have put in to get our ship where she is today. Lots of challenges and no doubt trials and tribulations are ahead, but it really is rewarding to receive this recognition. A fitting tribute to all connected with her.

National Historic Ships Photography Competition 2016

Why not help make this a Balmoral double? Lots of our supporters are also keen photographers and while there are three categories the first one is all about taking shots of vessels on the National Archive of Historic Vessels – its open to all.

This category is for photos which feature all or part of a registered historic vessel, either on static display or in operational use, clearly identifiable by name or type.

Category Prize:
GoPro HERO4 advanced camera, awarded by Event Broadcast Training Academy
Highly Commended Prize:
Illustrated book 'The Sea', sponsored by Adlard Coles

For all information on this excellent competition please go to: http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/pages/categories-prizes.html

Exciting 2016 Sailing Programme

Balmoral’s 2016 exciting sailing season will start on Friday 13th May and run through to Sunday 2nd October with 117 public sailing days and several days on charter in addition.

Those 117 days (spent calling at 54 different piers, harbours and jetties around the country) are as follows:
Bristol Channel - 52
South Coast - 14
London - 23
North Wales, Liverpool, Isle of Man - 24
Scotland - 4

A National Season Ticket allowing you to sail all around the country on every public sailing is great value at just £495.

Individual area seasons are also now on sale at:
Bristol Channel = £295
South Coast = £200
London = £280
North Wales Etc = £215
Scotland = £95

To purchase yours now please down load the booking form from the White Funnel website at www.whitefunnel.co.uk or call the office on 0117 325 6200 to get yours now.

Individual Voyage / Sailing Tickets will be live on White Funnel Website to buy for all areas from Monday 18th April – Please buy your tickets early – Thank You

Please also do your best to persuade friends, family and work colleagues to take a cruise – or perhaps organise a group for a voyage. It is a very effective (and most enjoyable) way of increasing revenue to help secure the future of Balmoral!

Thank you so much for anything you can do.

The Fathers Day Present of all Fathers Day Presents

With “Fathers Day” looming on June 19th this would be the very greatest of presents you could obtain for your Father. Being a Balmoral lover, what better gift could he possibly receive than the opportunity of sailing anytime anywhere for the rest of his life on his favourite ship?

With still a few weeks left on sale, this is obviously the dream ticket. If you don’t think your son or daughter will buy it for you then why not treat yourself? This very special “LIFETIME” pass costs £2,950, Joint adult: £5,600

Existing holders of the former Waverley Excursions Life Commodore tickets for Balmoral and Waverley may, (if they wish), claim a £250 reduction on the Founders' 2 price, on receipt of a photo copy of their pass.

This splendid offer is now available until 30th April. Just call the White Funnel Office for further details on 0117 325 6200

“Welcome Aboard” our New Captain – David Howie

david howieWe are delighted to introduce our new ship's Captain. He is Captain David Howie of Ayrshire, Scotland.

He has been a well-known figure as Chief Officer of both PS Waverley and MV Balmoral for several years until 2014, so has good knowledge of the coastal excursion business and of handling such ships.

During his career he has also served on Cruise ships, General Cargo Ships and on Ferries.

Captain Howie commenced his duties in Bristol on 29 March and was initially heavily engaged on preparations for dry-docking at Sharpness and the season’s operations, including visiting various ports and piers.

David, on speaking about his new command, said; “Joining Balmoral was a natural step in my career. I’m looking forward to sailing Balmoral on my home waters of the Clyde, but there is something interesting in each of our sailing areas.

Having Tower Bridge in London open for you is always a great feeling and I’m sure that it will be a great source of pride to be in command of Balmoral as she sails under what is recognised all over the world as an iconic bridge. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who have, and continue to help and support me.”

Also good to report that last season’s Master Captain Steve Mallett will return to Balmoral at various times during the season, including especially her Bristol Channel segments. We are very pleased to welcome Steve back.

Sharpness dry dockBalmoral Sails Successfully to Sharpness Dry Dock

Balmoral on the W/E of 2nd & 3rd April made her way majestically down the Avon into Avonmouth Docks and then the following morning up river to Sharpness.

She did not miss a beat and all involved were very pleased with her.

Currently our patient is undergoing attention on the blocks.

Early diagnosis (fingers crossed) is that this time there may not be too many unexpected bits of surgery to be carried out.

 

 

 

Ships Sponsorship Appeal

View Appeal List (MS Word Docx Format)

We thank all those who have considerably helped Balmoral prepare for sailing by supporting our sponsorship appeal.

We have had some much appreciated donations this last month and I cannot tell you how welcome this is - every pound really does help. Our running total has now exceeded £3000 and currently stands at £3,215 Can you help?

“Ships & the Sea Memorabilia” On Line Auction

This was a new idea that we started last month and has been relatively successful. Our P&A Campbell Sugar Bowl kindly donated by our Chairman Alec Lewis went “under the hammer” at £200 bought by Gilbert Lloyd of Cardiff.

The North Wales Steamer Booklet went to Mike Tedstone at £15 - We have since been given several interesting items by Ross Floyd such as a painting of the Cardiff Queen and a signed “historic” framed canvas picture of MVB sailing up the Avon.

Plus, kindly donated by Mike Tedstone, the Full set of White Funnel’s Swansea Sailings all three covering May to Sept 1964 with ships such as the two Queens, St Trillo, Westward Ho, Waverley, Devonia and Lundy Queen. These are in very good condition considering they are 52 years old!

Mike has also donated an immaculate White Funnel Fleet large Poster (really mint condition) for sailings from Portishead & Bristol for 1980 which was I think Campbell’s last year of operation?

Don’t have the pace now for pictures and to set these and other items for our auction now but watch out “hopefully” next month. If you have anything of value that you no longer have the room for or the wife is demanding you declutter (mine is) we would be pleased to hear from you.

MV Balmoral Fund – Membership “The Way Ahead”

A constructive and informative discussion by the existing members of the fund and its directors was held at a meeting in Bristol on Tuesday 5th April. Further details about widening and strengthening participation in the Fund will be forthcoming in next few weeks.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES with MV BALMORAL WE NEED YOUR HELP In preparation for the season we are looking for volunteers in all her sailing areas:

  • To distribute literature and posters before sailings start in each area

  • On sailing days, to act as “Pier Hosts” welcoming passengers before the vessel arrives and acting as liaison between ship and shore

  • There are also opportunities for supporters who are sailing to sell Sailing Route Guides and the Balmoral Gazette around the decks once the ship sails, as well as to help by selling raffle tickets and chatting to their fellow passengers about the ship during the sailing.

So that prospective volunteers may learn more about what is involved we have established a BALMORAL SUPPORT website http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport which gives details of all the volunteer opportunities, as well as details of how to contact us to sign up.

If you require any information at all about helping our ship please feel free to contact either Dick or Dave they would be delighted to hear from you.

Dick Clague dick.balmoral@gmail.com
Dave Bassett bassett.dave@yahoo.co.uk

South West Ship Show – Portishead Leisure Centre

south west ship show

This was a really good day for Balmoral. With many volunteers supporting and working our excellent stand at the show. Ross Floyds scale model of Balmoral really helps us stand out (with many of the public commentating on how good it was.)

With sales of our Prize Draw Tickets and second hand ships books and magazines we raised around £130 - but it wasn’t so much how much we made, but the hundreds of time tables we gave away, contacts made and the many potential passengers we spoke to about the ship.

Many had sailed before and others who had not. However I think we may have influenced them to sail this summer. Thanks to those who gave up their Saturday, doing so well “spreading the word, “sowing seeds which we shall reap later when sailing with additional bookings.

AND FINALLY

In next additions of both Ships Monthly and Sea Breezes we are due to have articles on the ship, plus in each copy will be our National Timetable, that’s 25,000+ copies going out to potential passengers. We are also indebted to Bernard & Doreen McCall of Coastal Shipping Magazine who are dispatching our time tables with their Coastal Shipping Magazine and all book sales.

Paul Doubler
10th April 2016

 

 
 
MV Balmoral – Newsletter Number 2 2016

balmoral sailing days

Sailing Programme

A detailed sailing programme has been prepared commencing on Friday 13th May and concluding with our last sailing on the BC Sunday 2nd October. Incidentally the date of our Grand Prize Draw, (more of which later.) We will sail on Bristol Channel, South Coast, Thames, North Wales, North West Coast, Isle of Man and on the River Clyde.

The provisional timetable covering June, July and August has been published and will remain largely unaltered in the final published version. White Funnel plan to publish the full final timetable online initially, and for printed copies to be available by early April - or indeed by Easter if possible.

WF is developing group business and has already secured sales from a number of coach operators and other travel group organisers. WF stands have been at four recent group travel shows. As soon as the programme is finalised there will be the opportunity to purchase season tickets for the main sailing areas and purchase individual sailing tickets.

Early income generation by sales of season tickets and sailing tickets is vital to assist cash flow, especially so in early season.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES with MV BALMORAL

In preparation for the season we are looking for volunteers in all her sailing areas:

  • To distribute literature and posters before sailings start in each area

  • On sailing days, to act as “Pier Hosts” welcoming passengers before the vessel arrives and acting as liaison between ship and shore.

  • There are also opportunities for supporters who are sailing to sell Sailing Route Guides and the Balmoral Gazette around the decks once the ship sails, as well as to help by selling raffle tickets and chatting to their fellow passengers about the ship during the sailing.

  • We would also welcome new blood to join our small team of commentators – and here local knowledge is particularly useful. Most of us are reading this newsletter because we have knowledge and enthusiasm for shipping matters and if you live near the sailing areas we hope that some of you might be willing to help us.

So that prospective volunteers may learn more about what is involved we have established a

BALMORAL SUPPORT website http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport

which gives details of all the volunteer opportunities, as well as details of how to contact us to sign up. Being a volunteer with MV BALMORAL is a challenging but rewarding experience – particularly when you see passengers enjoying sailing round our coasts again. With a full operating season this year we need a lot more help, so please sign up and join us.

Dick Clague BALMORAL SUPPORT
dick.balmoral@gmail.com

Founders “Life” Season Tickets

It has been decided to extend this scheme for a further month.

The pass costs £2,950, Joint adult: £5,600 (Existing holders of the former Waverley Excursions Life Commodore tickets for Balmoral and Waverley may, (if they wish), claim a £250 reduction on the Founders' 2 price, on receipt of a photo copy of their pass).

This splendid offer is now available until the end of April. Just call the White Funnel Office for further details on 0117 325 6200

Balmoral to Sharpness Dry Dock

dry dock

Monday 4th) April Balmoral will sail for her 2016 dry docking at Sharpness dry dock. The maintenance programme being carried out by our volunteers is progressing well. Seaspan (our ships mechanical agents) are preparing a dry dock specification so that we receive a firm quotation prior to entering dry dock.

Fingers crossed things go well and it is only the anticipated repairs and work that will be needed, although inevitably other costs will no doubt be incurred.

Charters and Advance Bookings

WF has secured a number of whole ship bookings for the season. The most important being five days booked by Red Funnel during the South Coast section of the programme. (Red Funnels old Flagship will return once more to her old sailing waters.)

A few commercial and operational details remain to be finalised. WF also has the support from Red Funnel to help reduce our operating costs and to assist with marketing these cruises.

We are especially grateful to them for their support and efforts on our behalf, we hope this is an association which will grow and prosper.

Ships Officers & Crew

A new permanent Master has been recruited who will commence work within the next few weeks. Extensive efforts have been made to obtain a Chief Engineer with relevant qualifications and experience who could also be involved with our vessel through the winter months.

This is not proving easy but every effort is being made to find the right person. Deck officer provision will be strengthened to enable a more intensive schedule to be operated, and with appropriate rotation, to ensure adequate hours of rest.

Other officer and crewing arrangements will follow the 2015 model and many of last year’s personal will be with us again this season.

Ken Floyd – Obituary

ken floydIt is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Ken Floyd. A personal obituary from our Chairman Alec Lewis:

“Following the sad news of Ken’s death I felt I should pen a few of the very happy memories I have of sailing with him and a group of enthusiasts particularly in the 1950s and 60s. Ken was a distinctive member of this group and was immediately recognised as he climbed the gangway in his light-coloured overcoat clutching his Financial Times. Conversations among the group included discussions on the challenging times the ships were facing, the vagaries of the weather (some things don’t change) and the current state of the very fine garden he and his wife managed on the slopes of the gorge overlooking the entrance to the City Docks. After I had spent 3 years in Exeter studying economics with a Senior Lecturer who had studied with Ken in London my discussions on our excursions down channel extended into issues such as the devaluation of the pound and the state of the Balance of Payments! I well recall sitting with him on the Bristol Queen in 1963 on our return voyage from Penzance soaking up the glorious scenery as we rounded Lands End and between us solving all the nation’s economic problems!

So it is with sadness that we say farewell to our White Funnel friend and supporter but with very happy memories of his friendship and of an entrepreneur who was, rightly, so proud of his family business. It is so good to see that his enthusiasm has been passed on to his son, Ross, who has helped in so many ways to help in getting Balmoral back in service.

The only sad point here was that his father was not well enough to realise that the great White Funnel tradition had been restored and was alive and well. Long may it continue!” Ken’s funeral is Friday 18th March at 11.30 am at South Bristol Crematorium, Bedminster Down, Bristol. Wake: Woodspring Golf Club adjacent to the Crematorium following on from the service. Ross has requested “No flowers” but donations to M.V. Balmoral Fund Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4QD (If attending to assist Ross for catering purposes can you please be kind enough to et Ross know on rossfloyd@farvis.co.uk

Ships Sponsorship Appeal

Click to View Appeal List (Ms Word Docx Format) >>

While this has not proved as successful as had been hoped, never the less a splendid sum of £2350 has been raised (so far) to ensure specific items onboard are attended to. I am sure readers will be delighted to know that our President Nigel Coombes has arranged for Peter Scrutton (another great friend of the ship) to use his skill and expertise on the ships “legendary” PA system.

It’s wonderful to report that Peter found the fault and has overhauled and returned it to full working order. Peter made several visits to the ship and put in many hours all free of charge. We are of course very grateful to Peter and the other benefactors who have very kindly contributed. This scheme is still very much open. (see list) in fact just yesterday I heard onboard we are now in urgent need of ships paint – at only £15 per can – “every little helps” – can you?

Ships Newspaper – The Balmoral Gazette

As requested in last Newsletter, we are looking for articles from you – the folk who love Balmoral. Quite simply a short article on “What Balmoral Means to Me” or a special story involving you and our ship. You don’t have to be a Charles Dickens for this, just something from the heart about the ship you love.

You never know you could be published!

MV Balmoral – Grand Prize Draw 2016

We have now received from the printers many thousands of draw tickets. First Prize is a cruise on the slightly bigger Balmoral kindly donated by our great friends at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines - its 13 day cruise for two to ‘Madeira, Lisbon & the Canaries’, ex Southampton on 30th October 2016. Second prize is a pair of Season Tickets “All Areas” for 2017 and Third Prize a large framed Tony Horn Print of Balmoral leaving Worthing Pier.

We really have to improve on last year’s total income of £5250 pounds. With a much longer sailing season we just have to! But we need folk to sell tickets both onboard but also ashore. Could you please have some books of tickets and sell to the many friends and family you talk to about MVB.

Regard it as a donation to such a great cause, a donation but also a marvellous opportunity to win a fantastic prize. NB – You can be onboard for the draw on Sunday Oct 2nd then (if you win) you, or the wife I suspect has just four weeks to plan and pack her wardrobe before sailing on Oct 30th! If you can sell tickets ashore, your assistance would be very much appreciated, just drop an email to paul.doubler@btinternet.com and we will get them to you.

“Ships & The Sea Memorabilia” – On Line Auction

ship memorabiliaWe have to raise every pound we can and preferably quickly to prepare for sailing again this summer.

So another new idea to raise funds for Balmoral and also no doubt hopefully provide a little fun! We have been very kindly donated three items by our Chairman Alec Lewis to set this auction campaign off and running.

First we have a quite splendid painting by an unknown artist L Hiley of (we think) the PS Cambria, I have no doubt that someone out there will put me right on this if this is incorrect?

Now could this be an item which you could possibly take to the “Antique Roadshow” and discover it’s worth a fortune? It would grace any study or den at home.

paintingThen we have a very rare (one could say unique now) P&A Campbell Silver Sugar Bowl, we think from between the wars and certainly hallmarked. Legally obtained – full provenance and story available. Then finally a splendid souvenir booklet from we think 1950’s but know for sure someone will tell us). It’s on “The Sea Route from Liverpool to North Wales”.

Original cost One Shilling – but worth considerably more today. It even tells of North Wales beauty sports and how to identify ships! With a splendid twin screw steamer on the cover I am sure many will want to own this. How apt you can use it this year on one of MVB’s North Wales sailings! So how will this work you ask?

Bids can be emailed to Paul Doubler paul.doubler@btinternet.com

Paul will keep track of the bidding and let all bidders (and anybody interested) know (and keep informed) what the highest bid so far is. The hammer will fall on auction at Noon Friday April 8th with last highest bid being successful. Many advantages in this auction, no buyers premium, you could get a bargain, something possibly worth a lot more and every pound raised will go to our ship.

Go on have a go. If you have anything from your own collection that you can part with and feel could raise funds for us, please let me know, we can include on subsequent “Newsletter Auctions”. It’s also can be called de-cluttering and no doubt your good lady will wholeheartedly support you donating items for this wonderful cause. Thank You.

South West Ship Show

Portishead Leisure Centre Sat 9th April 10am to 4pm

Come along and visit our stand at this wonderful day for ship lovers and everybody that has any affiliation with the sea and ships. Collect your copy of the exciting new time table and hear all the very latest news on your ship. Dozens of other stands all connected to the sea and ships – just not to be missed! Admission £3 with concessions £2 - We need assistance on our stand, we have had some volunteers but not quite yet enough to do the job properly. Ours is one of the most popular stands and it’s not hard to talk to interested folk about Balmoral.

With this year popping a sailing timetable in their hands, getting them interested, make a donation or sell them a draw ticket. Please come along have a great time by helping out, doesn’t have to be all day and you will enjoy! PS – If you’re working on our stand you don’t pay to come in! 2012 Balmoral Sailing Printed Timetable???

Would anybody have a copy of Balmorals last full summer sailing season under PSPS in 2012, I really would appreciate a copy, I could even return it if required. Also as requested last time if there are any photos out there of our ship in all the new places we are returning to this summer I really would love to have copies please?

Send to me at paul.doubler@btinternet.com

Paul Doubler 13th March 2016

 
 

 
 

Balmoral 2016 Newsletter - NUMBER 1

 

2016 Provisional Timetable Out Now

A provisional Balmoral 2016 time table is now available (excluding May & September and early October sailings) on the www.whitefunnel.co.uk website.

Our ship will travel to many different parts of the country during this summer. Extending from last season’s wonderful first “shorter” season she is back to delight on the Bristol Channel, South Coast, Thames and London, North Wales, North West of England including Isle of Man and also a nostalgic return is planned to Scotland and up the Clyde!

We are awaiting confirmation on a few factors such as ship charters and also a possible Film Charter but it is the plan to get the Time table finalised and published very soon with tickets actually on sale.

Keep in touch with the White Funnel website or call White Funnel on 0117 325 6200 We now have over 2000 followers of the ship on Twitter @MV_Balmoral Via this and Facebook White Funnel regular post news and information. Even if it’s not your thing perhaps you can get other friends or members of your family to “follow” our ship and “spread the word”?

Coastal Communities Fund - Additional Grant:

We have recently had the disappointing (but not surprising news when one considers the recent floods and their consequences) that we did not get the full additional grant we had applied for.

They have though kindly awarded us £52,000 which will be a great help to us. They are very complementary about our ship and organisation and in fact they are using us as an example of their work on a forthcoming internal document.

We have had indications that the door possibly “remains open” but we just have to get on and do it this year. Which leads us on to our next exciting item:

Sponsorship Project:

Please see list and information at end of this Newsletter regarding this exciting but vitally important new initiative. Balmoral, before she goes to sea in only a few short months time, needs a large number of new or replacement items.

Here we list many (but not all of them) in the hope that some of our wonderful supporters may feel able to personally sponsor an individual item that may appeal to them or be in their own price range.

Or alternatively please feel free to act yourself and seek to enlist any possible donor or benefactor. We have no real idea of the full range of skills, abilities and contacts the nearly 2000 readers of this Newsletter has.

So if anybody can find a person, company or institution to sponsor any of the items we would be delighted. It goes without saying a new generator at £32,000 would be just fantastic but also as little as a few tins of paint at £15 each would be very much appreciated. Please don’t miss all the details at end of this Newsletter.......................

MV Balmoral Fund Ltd – New Supporters Group

As was advised in last Newsletter the directors of the MV Balmoral’ Fund Ltd wished to change the name to better describe what it actually was - a charitable trust – MV Balmoral Charitable Trust Ltd, the title will be altered and amended and name change registered with the Charity Commission, Companies House, HMCE and our bank etc.

Then it is planned to launch a new membership / supporters group and to encourage new members to join the group and be involved with our principle aim of raising Funds, supporting Balmoral, volunteering for onboard work and also the vital task of supporting the ship on her many calls at piers and harbours around the UK.

Thereby keeping her sailing long into the future. The name change was put to the AGM of the Balmoral Fund Members and passed on December 18th. The exact status of the group together with other issues relating to the long term security of the ship has been the subject of much debate within the ranks of the fund membership.

A special meeting of fund members will be called ASAP to finalise how structure and the supporters group will evolve. It is hoped that we can create an organisation that will fully support our ship and also be a supporters / volunteer’s organisation to be proud of. It is hoped that this new scheme will be up and running before our sailing season starts.

BALMORAL FOUNDERS’ “2” CLUB GOLD PASS

A second opportunity to take up this remarkable but limited opportunity to help fund the considerable cost of getting MV Balmoral into passenger service for 2016. Enjoy the benefit of receiving a very special Founders' Gold Pass, entitling you to complimentary sailing with White Funnel Ltd on Balmoral for life!

Now with this year’s exciting provisional timetable published the opportunity will be available for many more of our supporters to sail on Balmoral. This summer we will be on the South Coast, London and the Thames, North Wales and North West of England and the Isle of Man.

In addition at time of writing expected we confidently look forward to sail once again on the Clyde in September, as well as her usual Bristol Channel sailings. But be careful not to miss out, only a limited number of these very special Founders' 2 Gold Passes will be issued, on a first come first served basis, and are available only until 29th February 2016 (or when allocation sold).

Gold Pass holders benefit from free travel for life* on all advertised public sailings by MV Balmoral from UK ports. In addition Gold Pass holders will be entitled to the following benefits: A guaranteed place on sailings (subject to booking). Vouchers to use on the ship worth £40 each year. An invitation to an annual private Founders' Club Reception Party on board during one of our sailings. An invitation to pre - book a visit to the Bridge on one of the sailings each year.

The pass costs £2,950, Joint adult: £5,600 (Existing holders of the former Waverley Excursions Life Commodore tickets for Balmoral and Waverley may, (if they wish), claim a £250 reduction on the Founders' 2 price, on receipt of a photo copy of their pass).

Please click here to download and print off the application form (MS Word docx format)
This also gives full terms and conditions. Or alternatively send a SAE to White Funnel Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QD or telephone the office on 0117 325 6100 and they can send you copy of form.

Captain Roger Francis - Resignation as Director.

It is with regret I report on the resignation of Roger from the board of directors. As a master mariner Rogers’s obvious specialist knowledge, wisdom and advice, hard work and commitment has been splendid and very much appreciated by us all.

Like so many of us his reasons are the fact that he has become overwhelmed with the amount of work he is doing in retirement, to such an extent that he feels he is unable to give anything his full attention. We are delighted that he wishes to remain a member of the Charity and be available for any advice that may be sought.

Huge thanks to Roger and indeed for your great effort; I can see you now on the bridge bringing us down from Sharpness after last year’s major dry docking and refit!

Great News from Fred Olsen & Big Balmoral!

It is wonderful to report the great support and encouragement we have received from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines continues on for 2016.They have been great supporters of ours and have awarded us a quite splendid summer cruise package for two on their 43,000 ton Balmoral – So that will be our star prize on this year’s exciting Balmoral 2016 Grand Prize Draw! Further details as soon as possible.

We will be getting the draw tickets printed now and hope that lots of our supporters will not only buy some but sell as many as they can on behalf of our ship. Not forgetting of course the very important and much appreciated sellers who go around our decks giving happy holiday passengers sailing on our Balmoral the chance to win such a great prize courtesy of Fred Olsen.

MV Balmoral Ships Newspaper 2016

Our ship will have its own newspaper this year, with lots of interesting and very readable articles. It will be on sail onboard and cost £2 (making a tidy profit for our ship). Aimed obviously at our sailing passengers but of course of great interest to all our supporters’. We are indebted to Paul Semple who has so kindly offered to Edit our first edition and pull it all together.

Some of our “ship author” supporters have been asked to contribute. But fear not there is a chance for you! We are looking for short articles from any supporters simply on “What Balmoral Means to Me” what is special about our ship for you, a special story of how she has been involved in or perhaps influenced your life! The best as chosen by a “special panel” will be published in our paper!

So please get writing now and your story in straight away to me at paul.doubler@btinternet.com

Balmoral Onboard Event: Sat13th Feb @ 7.00pm

This is an exciting alternative Valentines Show: ‘Fanny & Johnny Cradock Cook the Great American Songbook’, including a three course meal, pre show drink and coffee after.

The performance is by Show of Strength Theatre Company. Fanny & Johnny played by Kate McNab and John Telfer cook up a storm and diners enjoy a meal ‘A La Craddock’ featuring Fanny’s signature prawn cocktail dish and a classic chicken dish (with Vegetarian options available)

Dinner is hilariously demonstrated by Fanny before it is served, with a little help from the audience and regular bursts of song assisted by Johnny on the piano. Tickets are £40 pp and great value for what is assured to be a great night and one with a difference! Get your Tickets now - call the White Funnel office on 0117 325 6100

“Deliciously nostalgic...wonderful script...Brilliant.” Bristol Evening Post

“Dine on Balmoral as You Have Never Dined Before”

South West Ship Show – Portishead Leisure Centre
Sat 9th April 10am to 4pm

Come along and visit our stand (help also required to man it) at this wonderful day for ship lovers and everybody that has any affiliation with the sea and ships.

Collect your copy of the exciting new time table and hear all the very latest news on your ship. Dozens of other stands show all connected to the sea and ships – just not to be missed!

Admission £3 with concessions £2

Balmoral – Sponsorship Project 2016

With our sailing season fast approaching the repairs, maintenance and just “What our ship needs now” list grows ever longer. Of course somehow this has to be paid for. It will take all of our efforts to raise these funds. We have therefore produced our “Off the Shelf” list of most (but by no means all) of the many and varied items Balmoral needs and “approximate” costs.

We invite any contributions you may be willing to make for any items on list. Or can you use your own initiative and contacts to get someone else who may have an underlying love for the sea and ships to sponsor something?

Even if you can suggest someone or a company to possibly ask – just let us know and we will make contact. There will be a “Roll of Honour” with all donations shown and full praise and appreciation given. This will certainly be on our website or possibly even on the ship itself. Or should you prefer of course you or any benefactors can remain anonymous.

We would of course be delighted if someone can fund a new “desperately needed generator” but equally sponsorship of any of the “lesser priced” items are all very much appreciated. None more so I suspect than us “finally” getting the ships PA system overhauled and fully operational.

Please Help However You Can..............................

We sincerely thank our President Nigel Coombes for “Kick Starting” this appeal so generously. We are also indebted to Tony Horn of Worthing – a great supporter of the Balmoral who is doing a huge amount of work for the ship, making with his own wonderful wood working skills several items.

Passengers will enjoy new wooden seat uprights on the forward decks. Thanks Tony, we know there will be a tear in your eye when Balmoral “fingers crossed” ties up at your beloved Worthing Pier on June 7th! All the above will cost a lot of money but these things (and more) have to be acquired please help however you can. Thank You.

Post Script – And Finally:

With Balmoral returning this summer to many of her favourite calling ports, harbours and piers we will be undertaking a major press and media drive. Nothing tells the story better of our vessel than a good picture.

So if anybody has good quality shots of her in the past at places such as Worthing, Yarmouth, Southampton, IOW, Swanage, anywhere at all on the Thames leg such as Southend. Gravesend, Tilbury, Chatham etc we would be thrilled to have them. Please send to me at paul.doubler@btinternet.com

Paul Doubler – Jan 26 2016

 
 
 
End of Year Balmoral Round Up..........
and What a Year!

 

Sincere apologies for this long delay since your last news update. Many reasons for this but won’t bore you with them here. So here we go- straight into the news and there is lots of it!

MV Balmoral: Briefing from White Funnel Ltd

Balmoral’s purchase by MV Balmoral Fund Ltd from Waverley Steam Navigation was completed on 2 April 2015. A wholly owned subsidiary of the Fund, White Funnel Limited, was established in March following the award of a Coastal Communities Fund grant.

Commissioning costs substantially exceeded SeaSpan estimates, partly through additional MCA requirements, and a supplementary funding bid and further appeal have been launched to enable recommissioning the ship for 2016.

Balmoral has been chartered to White Funnel Ltd until 2019 and returned to service on the Bristol Channel on 18 June. Her season has been spent on the Bristol Channel, the North West and North Wales, and concluded on Sunday 20 September.

Sailings were badly disrupted by the weather, leading to some 25% of sailing days being lost and some others disrupted, requiring unplanned coach transfers. After a slow start, bookings from the beginning of August were strong and particularly encouraging was the fine weather in the North West at the beginning of September.

Notably well supported have been sailings from Swansea, to Ilfracombe at weekends, and the up-river classic covering the Avon, Severn and Wye, where two sailings attracted 550 and 470 respectively. In the North West, the 3 round-Anglesey sailings carried 300 in July and 380 and 470 on consecutive days in September. In Liverpool we were indebted to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for their unstinting support, while the goodwill shown by port authorities has been most encouraging and augurs well for the future. Customer feedback has been strongly positive.

SeaSpan Shipping has been retained as technical managers. Following a successful MCA audit in Avonmouth in September a full Document of Compliance has been issued to replace the interim one issued in June.

Volunteer -led pier hosting, publicity and on-board sales have been most effective in both North Wales and the Bristol Channel, with support coming from around the UK. The Bristol office will be staffed during the winter and is already developing plans for 2016.

With an extended sailing season to also include the Thames and South Coast, as well as promoting and organising off season cultural educational and social events alongside in Bristol. In 2016 we are particularly keen to encourage group travel and coach tour operators. The office in Bristol will be delighted to receive initial enquiries by telephone (0117 325 6200) or by email to events@whitefunnel.co.uk

It is vitally important to raise money to cover the additional costs, some £143,000, in commissioning Balmoral for the 2015 season, some of it attributable to further work unexpectedly required by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. If this is forthcoming there is every reason to be hopeful of a successful season in 2016.

Ship & Crew Did Us Proud

Other than two days lost with generator problems (Balmoral’s “Achilles heel”) our ship did not miss a beat and we were bowled over by the many kind and positive comments by passengers throughout her season. All agreed how well turned out she was and for a 66 year old looked wonderful after her long layup.

As for the crew, well they were just excellent. Coming together only a few weeks before our scheduled start they acquitted themselves very well. Balmoral quickly acquired for herself the reputation of being a happy and friendly ship. Again it was pleasing to receive much feedback on this point and to see many excellent comments on like Trip Advisor.

The crew were always happy to serve and helpful, especially with passengers with restricted mobility or mums with push chairs etc. I was talking to a group of disabled passengers on one of the later trips out of Llandudno. They were full of praise how they had been dealt with from the office on originally booking, to actually being given help to get on board. This was a great feature of her sailings in 2015 and is exactly the reputation we want for Balmoral going forward.

It would be invidious to single out individual crew members for special praise (and we don’t have the space) but suffice is to say that all in their own right contributed greatly to a successful first season back.

I do however want to pay tribute to our excellent engine room contingent. As was very forcibly pointed out to me by a reader of previous Newsletters, in singing the praises of our crew on previous updates I had omitted to mention our three engineers.

This of course was not intentional, despite sailing myself many times during the season, you tended not to see them, just taking for granted the constant steady beat of our diesel engines. However all three Kris Kusnierczak (Chief Engineer), James Stevenson (2nd engineer), Marcin Fils (Motorman) did wonderful work for which we are very grateful.

It is thought that virtually all our crew want to come back for 2016 so that in itself says a great deal about Balmoral. The job of continually driving a coastal steamer on demanding schedules is not an easy one. Huge thanks to our wonderful ship, our Captain Steve Mallett and his crew for really delivering for us. From where we started, with such a short timescale, it really was quite remarkable that we sailed at all.

If the weather had been kinder it would have been a really exceptional season in all respects. Trying so hard not to miss out deserving folk for our thanks, it would be remiss of me to miss out our team of shop keepers who did a great job and ensured our gift and souvenirs shop was open on every voyage and brought in much needed revenue. Under the wonderful direction of Geoff Ryder we thank them all.

White Funnel Office:

Great credit must go to General Manager Janet Small, Linda Strong, Philip Wickett and Kate Tatlowwho have done a brilliant job. Under the guidance of WF Directors Richard Mills and Andrew Jardine and Mike Deegan and with unstinting support from Honorary Operations Manager, Stuart Bearne, let’s not underestimate how big a task it was. To obtain and then set up offices, within sight of our berth.

To get the IT & telephone infrastructure installed, to set up systems and accounts, to launch and run a new website and all within a few short weeks was incredible! Not to mention setting up and dealing with all the various suppliers that the ship needed. What they had to do was immense but throw in the very many cancelled sailing days (due to poor weather) and it really was a great effort from the team.

To ring, text and email hundreds of passengers to advise of a cancellation took some doing. But we gained a good reputation for lessening the great disappointment felt by passengers when we had to cancel. Inevitable it did not always work – we could not reach everybody – every time, but we did in vast majority of cases. (Those we missed were then usually picked up by our superb harbours and pier hosts.

Then to arrange promptly hundreds of refunds was also a huge task. Ably backed up by a loyal small team of office volunteers, especially Martin Oatway, Chris Gaymer and Dave Thomas and others our office always projected an image of friendliness and efficiency.

Balmoral Support Volunteers

Huge thanks also has to go to this small but very hard working group, who throughout Balmorals season were poised and ready to do virtually anything asked of them.

Be it at the end of a pier or standing on a harbour wall when our ship sailed in. Made the harder of course when our ship “didn’t sail in.” Often early in the morning when braving the elements explaining to passengers just why she wasn’t sailing or what the options were.

Also magnificent help in getting our sailing leaflets, posters and advertising distributed around the various seaside communities, a massive task which in this (our first year back) was especially difficult and rushed. Maggie Urquhart did a wonderful job on leaflet & poster design and distribution.

Also thanks to the supporters who sold raffle tickets and our range of maps. Great thanks have to go to Dave Bassett for looking after the Bristol Channel team and John Thomas for the North.

Not forgetting Dick Clague for his great assistance in setting up the volunteer programme. Rest assured this will be honed and improved for 2016 and for those who assisted in 2015 much thanks, you really played your part in our success story - please come back next year.

To those of you who would like to be involved and help Balmoral in this vital area – rest assured you will be very welcome next year, when our ship will also sail to other parts of the UK - so watch this space.

**Christmas Stocking Filler ** “Balmoral - The Full Story”
A 90 Minute DVD by Geoff Hale:

This splendid film priced at £10.95 would make tremendous stocking filler (even if you have to buy it for yourself!) To get your copy please send a cheque or £12.95 (which includes postage) Payable to MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, to John Thomas, 23 Adder Hill, Great Broughton, Cheshire, CH3 5RA.

Balmoral 2016 Grand Prize Draw

We raised in excess of £5000 for this year’s draw. A little disappointing, but still a vitally important contribution towards keeping our ship sailing.

I am sure we can do better next year. Sheila & Terence Warner of Wrexham 2015 winners of the wonderful prize (so kindly donated by Fred Olsen & Co) had a wonderful time on board the bigger Balmoral and were full of praise for their wonderful holiday the ship and its wonderful crew.

New Chairman for the MV Balmoral Fund Ltd

Delighted to report that the very well known and highly respected Alec Lewis is now our Chairman. Alec has a wealth of experience and knowledge of coastal sailing & ships, coupled and a love and passion for Balmoral. We very much appreciate him taking this position and not long after joining the board.

We know that his enthusiasm and wisdom will be very beneficial for us going forward, especially as we change the structure of the fund – more of which later. Alec has though made the point that he is doing this for twelve months and will be looking for a suitably qualified person to take over. – Many thanks Alec!

MV Balmoral Fund Ltd – Structure Change

As has been advised previously the directors of the MV Balmoral’ Fund Ltd wish to change the name to better reflect the fact that it is a charitable trust – MV Balmoral Charitable trust Ltd, then open the membership fully to create a fit for purpose organisation which can encourage new members to join and be involved with our principle aim of raising Funds, supporting Balmoral and keeping her sailing long into the future.

We hope to have an organisation that is fully able not only look after at all times the best interests of our ship but to be a supporters / volunteers organisation to be proud of. This has been agreed by the funds directors and will be put to the AGM of the MVBFL onboard on Friday 18th December.

Subject to this being approved the constitution has to be altered and amended and name changed registered with the Charity Commission, Companies House etc. But it is confidently thought that early in 2016, certainly well before our sailing season, our new membership set up and structure will be published and we will be open for new members. It is hoped that hundreds will “come on board” and join us! Watch this space, further update ASAP.

Our Website www.MVBalmoral.org.uk

As part of our restructuring of the fund organisation a full revamp / refresh of our excellent website will be carried out. We want to bring in and consolidate other sites that developed to help our ship during her difficult and frantic set up period. It will have many exciting features including a closed section – available exclusively for the new organisations members! Our splendid site, set up and managed since its inception by Kieran McCarthy is something we are very proud of and will be considerably better going forward

Balmoral Onboard Winter Events

The ship being returned to winter lay up in such good condition has led us to be able to already hold several onboard events. We have held a very successful “up market sit down

dinner function “an educational day and last Saturday our friends at the Cabot Cruising and the Bristol Cruising Clubs held a very successful joint “Casino Fun Night” onboard, with the proceeds all going to Balmoral – we are very grateful to them.

While being of course “ever aware” that our ship board volunteers are doing a tremendous job working through a long list of winter maintenance projects, Balmoral is open and available for business. If anybody has any idea’s or thoughts of winter use / fund raising etc please contact Philip Wickett at the WFL Office on 0117 325 6200 or events@whitefunnel.co.uk

BBC 4 Programme - Shown Tuesday 20th October

Well I hope you didn’t miss this fabulous programme? It was for those of us who love coastal steamers a simply wonderful hour of joy and nostalgia. Balmoral had so much involvement with its creation and became great friends with the film’s producer Robin Toyne.

With Balmoral and our President Nigel Coombes and great supporter Ross Floyd heavily featured it really was a triumph for us. It received much critical acclaim and there is talk about a follow up – so much material wasn’t able to be crammed into the 60 minutes! Balmoral Pictures Kate in the White funnel Office is setting up a data bank of Balmoral pictures.

We need good quality images of our ship from her many and varied adventures around the UK. We will use them in publicity material, leaflets and posters and for press shots etc.

If you have any you think suitable, (especially showing a busy ship with happy passengers) please send them direct to Kate at tickets@whitefunnel.co.uk Christmas & New Year Best Wishes

To close, can I wish all Balmoral supporters every where a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016. We all look forward to Balmoral sailing again next year and having a successful summer season, enjoying a super summer of sunshine, blue skies and calm seas.

Paul Doubler
December 2015

 
 
 
BBC 4 Programme Not to Be Missed Next Tuesday!
Don’t miss an excellent programme that a BBC TV Film Producer has spent almost a year in making on the great history of the excursion steamer.

Lots of folk connected with Balmoral have been involved and personally filmed for your own reminisces etc of the great days both “past & present” of our wonderful ships. As Robin Toyne points out (see below) he could not possibly get everything in, so inevitably most of us will have fallen in the water and drifted off astern.

However it’s the great ships that are the stars and Balmoral features prominently.

______________________________________________________________________________

Hello Paul, Just to let you know our film is going to be transmitted on BBC4 on Tuesday 20th October at 9pm! They're certainly not hanging around. So if you could pass the word around I'd be very grateful - and hopefully it'll help raise further awareness of the ship. I was in the 'happy' position of having too much strong material and many great contributors, and in the editing process some people and material have been squeezed out. The film wouldn't have happened though, nor be what it is, without everyone's involvement and generosity, for which I'm very grateful. My aim has been to make a film that captures the essence of excursion steamers, through the stories of the people who worked and sailed on them - and the Bristol Channel story is a prominent part of the film....

"Waverley" features, as with P&A Campbell’s on the Bristol Channel, the story of the Clyde steamers more generally is a prominent part of the film (with some lovely archive of both). Not wanting to give away the happy ending but the final shot is 'Balmoral' sailing into the sunset under the Avonmouth bridge on her first cruise in June 2015.

The BBC are keen to generate interest in the film - and publicity for the film... please feel you can use it to generate any mutually beneficial publicity for the ship too. Basic transmission details are: BBC4 "Timeshift: The People's Liners" 20th Oct, 9pm, don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you need any further info on the film. And many, many thanks Paul to you personally and everyone who has made me feel so welcome on board Balmoral. All best, Robin Robin thoughts about his film… The first time I saw an excursion steamer I was 11 and on a bird-watching trip to the Isles of Scilly. One day, in place of the “Scillonian”, “Balmoral” turned up (I now know in P&A Campbell colours and in the last few years of her life as a commercial steamer). What struck me then was that she looked out of time. I was intrigued.

I first saw “Waverley” in the early 1990’s (no longer such an avid bird-watcher and on a visit to the Isle of Man). She was alongside in Peel Harbour on a choppy day and I remember doing a double take. I’d no idea a large working paddle steamer even existed…

Wind forward to 2014 and, living in Bristol, I was aware of the volunteer efforts to ready “Balmoral” for sea again. I thought there might be a local story… and so started an engrossing trail that led me into the colourful world of excursion cruising. With so much vivid oral history both in terms of individuals who had worked on the steamers and those who had travelled aboard, I became fascinated by the social history of how they reflected holiday aspirations over the decades as well as the maritime history of the ships themselves. And then when I learnt of the wealth of archive, in part thanks to the help of Richard Turner and Martin Oatway, I couldn’t believe that the story hadn’t been told on television before…

I took the idea to BBC’s “Timeshift” series, also based in Bristol, and they in turn pitched the film to commissioners. All through the process I was advised it was a long shot, which, of course, I knew was true. What I didn’t know was that one of the BBC4 executives had an uncle who has a stoker on a Clyde Steamer! We were underway….

Throughout the research, production and post production of the film, I’ve been struck by the enthusiasm and generosity of everyone who has shared their experiences and ‘coastal cruising passion’ with me. It’s been an endlessly fascinating voyage – and I hope I’ve managed to capture a sense of the character and vitality of life aboard the steamers and the communities they served. That’s been my aim throughout.

With such a wealth of personal recollection and archive, I haven’t been able to include everyone nor every ship in the final cut – and there will be some extra clips featuring ships and stories that would have been included if we’d had a longer slot.

But the film wouldn’t have happened, nor be what it is, without everyone’s involvement and generosity, for which I’m very grateful.

“Timeshift: the People’s Liners”, Tuesday 20th October, BBC4, 9pm

Robin Toyne, Director/Producer, Bristol, 8th October 2015

Here is the synopsis:

Timeshift casts off for a colourful voyage of high teas on the high seas, family pleasure trips and the original booze cruises in the company of passengers and crew of the vintage steamers which plied between industrial cities and their nearest seaside and offered day trips from those resorts. Far more than a means of transport, each ship attracted a devoted following, treating its passengers, whatever their pocket, to the adventure and trappings of an ocean voyage whilst rarely actually venturing out of sight of land. A highlight of the Great British Seaside Holiday from the 1820s until the early 1960s – and open to all - they were ‘The people’s liners.’

“Comet”, the first commercially operated steamship in Europe, began sailings on the River Clyde in 1812. With her novelty, flair and reliability, she revolutionized travel. Pre-dating the first UK railway by almost 20 years, the steamboat was the first form of mass transport and, for many people, the first time they’d experienced the wonder of steam. Travel became pleasurable and, within six years of Comet’s maiden voyage, there were a plethora of steamboats offering sight-seeing trips around the British coast. The era of excursions had begun, (long before Thomas Cook launched his railway tours in 1841).

Fleets expanded throughout Victorian and Edwardian Britain – and the steamers grew ever faster and more luxurious. London was connected to the resorts of Essex and Kent, Liverpool and Lancashire to North Wales, the piers were alive with paddlers along the South Coast but the greatest concentration of steamers and destinations were along the Clyde Riviera and Bristol Channel, the dual focus of our film.

With grandiose names to match their aspirational ambience like “Duchess of Montrose”, the “Jeannie Deans” and the original “Queen Mary” (renamed Queen Mary II with the launch of Cunard’s luxury liner) the Clyde Steamers transported thousands of Glaswegians “doone the watter” for their main family holiday. It was a traditional still very much alive when Duncan Graham landed his dream job. Term time he was a student teacher, for five consecutive summers from 1954 – 1959 he was an assistant purser across the Clyde fleet. Working and living aboard the steamers gave him a port hole into 1950’s life and dreams.

The steamers in the Bristol Channel were also intrinsically linked to the communities they served. Ordinary seaman Robin Wall and pantry boy (later Purser) Neil O’Brien followed their fathers, who each worked for P&A Campbells prestigious White Funnel Fleet, and experienced life aboard the White Funnel flagships “Bristol Queen” and “Cardiff Queen.” Days at sea on the Bristol Channel usually meant nights ashore in Cardiff and, at a time when British society was still predominantly white, Robin and Neil reveled in the multi-cultural joys of Cardiff’s Tiger Bay…. (the original home of Shirley Bassey, who we see performing on a White Funnel Steamer before her meteoric rise).

The 1950s proved to be the sunset of coastal cruising however. With an independently spirited younger generation keen to find their own holiday destinations, the rise in car ownership and the advent of the package holiday, excursion steamers declined throughout the 1960’s. All around the coast the much loved steamers were retired and the majority scrapped. By the early 1970s the “Waverley” was the only paddle steamer remaining on the Clyde. Down west the paddlers had been replaced by elegant diesel motor ships, who in turn inspired a dedicated following, the last of which “Balmoral” ploughed on until 1980.

Commercially that should have been the end of the story but, as “The People’s Liners” shows, such is the draw of the ships and the traditions they represent that “Balmoral” and “Waverley have both been preserved. Owned by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, “Waverley”, after years of volunteer endeavor, “Balmoral”, the last White Funnel Steamer gloriously re-entered service in June this year – and we’re on board for the first cruise of her re-launch.

Principal Credits

Narrator: Steven Mackintosh Editors: Lizzie Minnion, Stuart Davies

Series Producer: William Naylor Executive Producer: Michael Poole

Director/Producer: Robin Toyne

_____________________________________________________________________________

Paul Doubler October 16th 2015

 

 
 
 
MV Balmoral – 2015 Grand Prize Draw – The Winners

On Sunday 20th September in the middle of the Bristol Channel on a wonderful afternoon we held the long awaited draw for our first Grand Prize Draw of Balmorals new era.

We had Captain Steve Mallett pull the first prize winner. Then our great supporter Ron Sims as the oldest person on board at a very young and sprightly 88 select the Second Prize Winner, then the third and final prize was draw by our youngest shipmate on the day 5 Year old Ethan Newton.

First Prize: Ticket number 05467 - Sheila & Terence Warner - Pendine Park, Wrexham. (Two Week Cruise for Two on Fred Olsen’s MV Balmoral.)

Second Prize: Ticket number 06294 - Mr & Mrs Dennis Matischok, Ruthin, North Wales. (Pair of Season Tickets for MVB in 2016.)

Third Prize: Ticket number -08316 - Margaret Skee, Greenock, Scotland. (Special Spode Decanter of Glenfiddich 18 Year Old single Malt Whisky.)

I contacted the winners by mobile phone from the ship and all are delighted. Especially of course Sheila and Terence Warner who bought their winning ticket while on a trip from Llandudno.

They of course as we speak are busy packing for their wonderful prize of two weeks on the slightly larger and more luxurious Fred Olsen’s MV Balmoral! They sail from Southampton on Balmoral to Morocco, Spain and Portugal for a two week cruise.

We are indeed very indebted to the Fred Olsen Company for their great support of our “slightly” smaller Balmoral. All three winning tickets were amazingly sold during Balmorals visits to North Wales!

I can assure everybody that the box was well shaken up – several times. Our third prize winner Margaret Skee is actually a Volunteer in the Waverley office in Glasgow so it was a case of “Coals to Newcastle” her enjoying a day with us on MVB and actually winning a wonderful bottle of Malt Whisky!

Well we have finished our first season and MVB is back safely in her winter berth in Bristol’s inner harbour. Further report on our sailing season itself and lots of other news to follow in near future.

Paul Doubler 25th September 2015

Draw Picture – Left to Right

Draw promoter Alec Lewis, Ron Simms, Capt Mallet, 5 Year Old Ethan, with his Dad and 3 week old brother and Paul Doubler.

 
 
 
Balmoral Great Cruises & High Numbers (at last) of
Very Happy Passengers! Sailings still to come:
Bristol Channel Sailing, now to 1st September
Liverpool & North Wales 4th to 10th September

Bristol Channel Final Trips of the Season 12th to 20th September Last Trip of the Year & Grand Prize Draw Onboard – Sunday 20th September! It really has been such an unforgiving summer for us. But fortunately passenger numbers are really growing and we have had some great sea days.

Especially the weekend of 7th to 10th August when our ship carried marvellous numbers. All onboard had great days out and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. So it does show that when the weather is good the public support and interest in our ship is great. We have had lots of very positive feedback and some really great comments on Trip Advisor!

Our wonderful crew under Captain Steve Mallet, First Officer Rob Bassi, Chief Steward Vlad and Purser Tony and all our crew have really surpassed all expectations and have produced a really well turned out and happy ship. We have had some great days; here are just a few that come to mind.............

“Barnacle Buoys Up The Avon”

I was onboard for a really magic day Sat 8th when we left Penarth with 150 then collected another 200 at Clevedon for a quite idyllic sail up the Avon to Bristol. Then another 120 boarded for the trip back down river so just under 500 made a very full ship!

We had the Barnacle Buoys, Shantymen singers from Clevedon onboard who really created a lovely atmosphere as we cruised sedately up and down the Avon. With Nigel Coombes simply splendid Commentary pointing out places of interest, our passengers had a great experience.

Lundy Church Service

Sunday 16th August gave us the “ships” church service on Lundy.

I was pleased and honoured to take this on after the great work and efforts put in by Terry Sylvester over so many years.

We think it was the 30th Anniversary of this special service held at the church of St Helens on Lundy, known to most of us as St Helena, but the correct title is indeed St Helens.

The proud Victorian Church, a landmark since constructed in 1896 is in a very sad state of repair.

A “Restoration Appeal” has been launched to apply for lottery funding. We were honoured to have the Rev Shirley Henderson the Vicar of Lundy conducting the service. Rev Shirley paid great praise to Balmoral and that she and our ship were of the same “1949 Vintage” but Balmoral appeared to be wearing a lot better than her! She made several kind complementary remarks about the people behind her preservation and just how special Balmoral was to her.

Being born and brought up in Southampton and travelled on her many times to the IOW and spoke of watching the cars being loaded onto her car deck etc. We had standing room only and there were actually folk standing at back of the church. What seemed like a generous collection took place, which together with the £318 which we raised on the ship by a very special Church Raffle, really added to the appeals coffers!

An example of our ships flexibility and willingness to help were the two young ladies who had kayaked out to the island, but did not relish the trip back under their own power. So our crew lifted the kayaks onboard together with the ladies luggage and gave the girls a relaxed and much easier trip home to Ilfracombe. They were so pleased hey quickly put their thanks up on Trip Advisor – unfortunately it’s gone on Waverley’s page!


Evening Jazz Cruise

We ran a successful jazz night (Sat 15/8) onboard when we had the “Newport City Jazz Band” playing on a special Saturday night cruise up the River Usk and under the “iconic” Newport Transporter Bridge. They played on deck until their hands got to cold (it is August remember) and then created great atmosphere and enjoyment in the Britannia Lounge!



North Wales & Liverpool – Passenger Numbers Good ...
Have you Booked Your Ticket?

Advance booking are looking good for the rest of the season but, especially when we return to North Wales and Liverpool. So if you are planning to sail between 4th & 10th September please book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

We have some very good cruises especially those sailing under the Menai Bridges and those that give the rare opportunity of sailing right around the island of Anglesey and under both bridges. John Thomas, Dick Clague and their team of volunteers are really in need of help with leaflet & poster distribution around sailing points.

We will be hitting local media and trying for radio / TV etc. But of course it’s a huge “holiday area” attracting thousands of visitors. They tend not to buy local papers or see local media. We get them onboard through the poster or leaflet at the holiday point, in the Tourist Information Centres, hotels, on piers etc. It’s distribution direct to potential passengers that is so vital for us.

If you can help and are not already on our data base at http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport please email John at johnthomas23@gmail.com Anything you can do to help during this very important visit by Balmoral to this potentially high earning area would be very much appreciated.

MVBFL Director Resignation – Ross Floyd

Ross Floyd a marvellous benefactor and supporter of the ship and an incredibly hard working director has sadly had to step down from the board of MVBFL. This being a rare occasion he is actually listing to his good lady wife Gill (another brilliant supporter of the ship) and even more importantly now his doctor. Ross has not enjoyed the best of heath and has been warned to take things easier. I have no doubts that they will still be heavily involved and supportive in so many ways for the ship. We thank both Ross and Gill sincerely for their tremendous support and hard work for our ship. Just to show there is no stopping Ross, he has recently purchased and donated to the ship a defibrillator. This is a marvellous emergency first aid machine and could possible save lives on board. – Very many thanks Ross & Gill......for everything you have done.


MVBFL Director New Appointment – Alec Lewis

Having nothing at all to do with Ross leaving the board, I am delighted to announce that the very well known and highly respected Alec Lewis is joining us. Alec has a wealth of experience and knowledge of coastal sailing & ships, coupled and a love and passion for Balmoral. We very much appreciate him “coming onboard” and know that his enthusiasm and wisdom will be very beneficial for us going forward.

Media

We have done very well of late with publicity, getting many newspaper articles. One even in last week’s Daily Mail - which sells just under two million copies! We have run competitions in many newspapers that have created great interest and added to awareness and exposure of the ship and her various sailings.

We have featured on ITV Wales & West Country News and also had a 6 minute feature in last Fridays Coast & Country on ITV. Plus we are building a strong relationship with Voice Radio in North Devon.

Ships Monthly Magazine
“Balmoral is Ship of the Month”

We are the ship of the month in this month’s edition (October) out now.

We have the Front page and a five page spread inside. It really is a splendid major feature by Russell Plummer and tells our ships amazing story.

Priced £4.25 at all good newsagents now!

A small number of copies have been given to us by the publishers (for which we are very grateful) and will soon be on sale in the ship gift shop.

Proceeds to the ships fund!


Marketing -Poster & Leaflet Distribution & Pier Hosts Everywhere

For various reasons we were late in getting this vital area underway. But a huge effort has been made to get brochures, posters and banners and publicity material around all the coastal locations. So many folk have contributed and done so much.

Massive time and effort has gone into this, but it has been spearheaded and organised by Dave Bassett and Maggie Urquhart - who have been quite simply amazing. The time effort, dedication and enthusiasm they have put in – is unbelievable. But they are first to pay tribute to good folk who have worked so hard everywhere getting Balmorals publicity material out there front of face.

Plus (of course) the dedicated “Pier Hosts” who turn out in all weathers to assist our passengers, often in not the easiest of situations, especially this so called summer! Just some of our heroes - Keith in Ilfracombe, Kevin at Penarth, Hazel & Neil in Bristol, Chris at Swansea, Jeff & Paul at Portishead as well as assisting Geoff at Clevedon, the two Rogers at Porthcawl and many others on the Bristol Channel.

Plus of course the North Wales & Liverpool team, about to swing into action! Please forgive us anybody missed. Thank You!

SOCIAL MEDIA / FACEBOOK / TWITTER ETC

We are really doing much better on this element of communications with lots more hits and “Likes” and Tweets etc. If you could you help “plug and publicise” Balmoral in regard to forthcoming sailings and buying tickets etc.

The quite splendid “White Funnel” website is very active here, but it all takes time to build up our supporter base. So any assistance here would really help! – Our Twitter feed is @MV_Balmoral. Also have a look at Balmoral TV on You Tube

White Funnel Office & Staff

Janet, Linda, Kate and Philip have been simply tremendous in setting up the new office and systems etc. We have been so lucky with the quality of these good people. It would appear that the old girl (MVB) seems to have worked her magic over them also. Let nobody underestimate the work, effort, trials and tribulations in setting up the whole White Funnel operation, right from scratch.

It really is a great credit to them. Much hard work and long hours have gone into it from them all. The passenger (customer) feedback has been excellent with our efforts to have a friendly happy customer facing ship also highly reflected in our office performance with many complements and plaudits on their professional and friendly approach and style.

“Balmoral - The Full Story” – A 90 Minute DVD by Geoff Hale

This is the full journey, saving MVB and bringing her back to service - the full story.

A splendid high quality film and narration of the many high and low points of our ship. Geoff (a retired BBC Film maker) has done so much and contributed in so many ways to producing the pictorial account of our progress.

His films have made such a great impression. They can be seen on the MVBF Website and on www.whitefunnel.co.uk plus freely available to the world on the ‘Balmoral TV page of YouTube’. This splendid film priced at £10.95 is selling well onboard.

For those who cannot get to the ship, please send £13.95 (which includes postage) to Geoff Hale at 185 Old Church Road, Clevedon, North Somerset, BS21 7UD. Every penny goes to the MVBFL to keep Balmoral sailing.

Balmoral – The Winter Months

Rest assured that many plans and ideas are being developed to maximise Balmorals excellent earning potential through her seven month layup. With her city centre “prime location” and the fact we now have a fully working and splendid ship means there are great opportunities to earn good off season revenue.

This does though have to be carefully balanced and coordinated with her ongoing servicing and repairs schedule. If you know of anyone who would like to hold a function onboard, (which must have the ability to earn the ship good money) – get in touch with Philip in the office.

Balmoral Fund / New Supporters Association

Plans and details of this are being worked up, but understandably with all focus on the sailing season and so much to be done by so few people, this will not be launched until the autumn. But we are confident that the new organisation and set up will be well received and fully consolidate the body that owns and supports our ship.

One vital cog required is a Membership Secretary! Not to onerous a position – honestly. We need someone “anywhere in the UK” he or she certainly does not have to be around Bristol Channel. We are looking for someone who will manage the membership applications, renewals and subscriptions.

With modern technology this can virtually all be arranged and done automatically via the internet. If this could be a position for you or you know someone who you think would be the very person, please get in touch. They really would be made very welcome and we think they would have a lot of fun doing it!

New Financial Appeal

A major new financial appeal is about to be made on behalf of our ship. Even with a successful “end of season” we may well not have enough income to fully cover this year’s expenditure and have enough to commission her next year.

Certainly not sufficient to cover that and the additional costs incurred already in getting her ready for sea. Extra replating and preparatory costs that was unexpected and so not budgeted for. These just had to be paid, or quite simply we would not have sailed this year.

While in the past we have asked you to donate to our “dream” the prospect of getting Balmoral sailing again. Now we feel that although we do have to ask “again “we do so from the proven position that our ship is performing brilliantly, and in excellent condition.

A ship that in a “reasonable summer” would prove her to be a viable commercial proposition. Further details, other funding applications and our full appeal itself will be available shortly.

Finally: We do really need your support now over the last four weeks of sailing!

Our ships best income generator is having lots of passengers coming up the gangplank. Weather has certainly severely hampered our first season back on the high seas.

But we do have a wonderfully working ship and her future potential is excellent. Next year’s time tables and opportunities for 2016 are already being developed, but finances are extremely tight.

Please come onboard, buy (or sell) raffle tickets and keep spreading the word. Several thousand passengers up our gangway between now and September 20th would help enormously!

Paul Doubler Communications
20th August 2015

 
 

Some Recent Videos Courtesy of Geoff Hale

 

 
 
BALMORAL ALMOST READY TO CAST OFF – FIRST PUBLIC SAILING JUNE 19th

APOLOGIES

I am so sorry that at this most exciting of times you have had to wait a while for this latest news update. I know you are desperately keen to hear latest news and what’s happening with Balmoral, but honestly it has been so very busy and so very fast moving it has been difficult to draw breath, but here is our latest all be it brief news update......

TIMETABLE

Great news - the final timetable is now available to download from the homepage of the website http://www.mvbalmoral.org.uk

After waiting so long this is it - complete at last! What a struggle it has been to get this completed. Lots of hard work and tremendous effort has been put in.

Much thanks and appreciation is owed to so many, but special thanks have to go to Captain Ted Davies and Captain Steve Colledge without whom we would not be sailing. Gentlemen we are in your debt.

BOOKING TICKETS

Much as we want you to very shortly buy lots of sailing tickets, please resist the temptation to ring up and try to book tickets immediately.

Of course we want to be able to sell tickets but we cannot manage (quite yet) a rush of enquiries to the office until staff and systems are finally in place.

Time tables are now at printers and will be ready for circulation hopefully later this week. An imperative is to persuade as many as possible to "sign up" to the Newsletter on the White Funnel web site so that the office can easily communicate timetable news, ticket offers and news of the ship to the widest possible audience at minimal cost, so please if you haven’t already sign up now at www.whitefunnel.co.uk

WHITE FUNNEL WEBSITE & TICKETING

This has proved a very complex undertaking, not just the website but the creation of a ticketing and payment system that will cover and manage our complicated requirements.

This was agreed and finalised last Friday and will “hopefully” be installed and up and running later this week. When we are live – rest assured you will hear about it!

SHIPS NEWS

Captain Steve Mallett, First Officer Rob Bassi, Chief Steward and Cook together with rest of crew have joined ship and are living aboard.

The Cook is getting good reviews and feeding the crew well and they are happy – so very important as a well fed crew is a happy crew!

The ship is now alive again! A massive effort is being put in by the crew and volunteers to ensure she receives her passenger certificate, two new ribs (lifeboats) are at their davits and all are working flat out to ensure she is spick and span and very literally “Ship Shape & Bristol Fashion” to sail down the Avon on Friday 19th with her first passengers in three years.

SHIP SHOP

We are delighted and very pleased that Geoffrey Ryder, Pat Murrell and their colleagues will be onboard throughout the summer running and looking after Balmorals Shop.

These friendly experienced and well known faces will be great aides to running the ship on her travels. They will be well known faces to many of you. They look forward to making new and renewing old friendships.

MEDIA / PUBLICITY LAUNCH
I know you are saying where is the publicity? Nobody is keener than us to get this underway but we have had to hold back until everything is in place, but with timetable finalised and website and ticketing systems imminent this week it’s about to happen!
NEW STAFF MEMBER
We welcome Linda Strong to the team at our White Funnel Bristol Office.

Many of you will know Linda from her previous life at Clevedon Pier.

She will be an invaluable addition to White Funnel with her many areas of expertise. One of the many things Linda will initially major on will be the setting up our team of coastal agents. Other office staff are being sought to take phone bookings.

Although we are confident that our Online Website and booking system will be easy to use and that the vast majority of you who want to buy tickets can do so on line.

FOUNDERS CLUB GOLDEN PASSES:

This has gone well, and offer is now closed. Thank you indeed to those that took up this offer. It was we appreciate a lot of money for the individuals taking one, and a big statement of faith in MVB, but we hope that much pleasure will be given over very many years travelling on Balmoral.

The revenue raised will prove invaluable to our working capital. Rest assured the passes are being created now and will be sent out over next week. Thank you Founders Club Members!

SUMMER SEASON TICKET

Lots of people are I know very keen on this and here it is!

There will be a “Balmoral Season Ticket” this summer! It will cost £395 for the full seasons sailings anywhere MVB goes! To get yours now please print off and complete the attached “season ticket application form and send with a cheque made payable to White Funnel Ltd” send to White Funnel Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QD – and mark the envelope “Season Ticket”.

We will get yours out as quickly as we can, if we receive application this week, it will be before we sail on 19th, obviously the later we receive your application it will inevitably take longer as we expect this offer to be very popular, especially on the Bristol Channel but we will do our very best.

AND FINALLY

Unbelievably we are almost there - but there is still so very much to do. Please bear with us and be patient in these last few weeks – we are a small group working so desperately hard. The ship will sail in two weeks.

What we have to do now is market her, get the message out Balmoral is back and needing hundreds of people to be coming up the gang plank at each and every destination.

We know (through nobody’s fault) we are late in this. So we will need your support during this summer but this time not asking for your donations, but to sail with us as often as you can. To enjoy Balmoral and to spread the word far and wide and encourage as many of your friends, neighbours and family to also come coastal cruising.

It’s been little short of a miracle what has been achieved. Balmoral is back thanks to so many people. The story is a book in itself – but that’s for another day! Please join us this summer.

That’s what it has all been for, so that people can once again enjoy the wonderful British coastline from the sea on our beautiful classic motor ship. To meet old and make new friends, to have adventures and fun as generations have done so before us. It’s keeping alive and reinvigorating a great British tradition.

This summer has to be a success to ensure that we are back for 2016 and so much better prepared shore side. There were many doubters. We were often down hearted ourselves after set back after set back. But though many stormy and troubled times the faith and belief held. Once again the old girl has pulled through. She (and us) looks forward to welcoming you aboard in your hundreds - to come sailing with us once again this summer. Who would have thought it possible, who would have believed it?

So fellow Balmoral lovers it’s not long now.......

Paul Doubler MV Balmoral 1st June 2015

 
 
“BALMORAL IS BACK” Cruising like the Thoroughbred she is!
  • Bristol Channel Sailing Right Through to 1st September
  • Liverpool & North Wales 4th to 10th September
  • Bristol Channel Final Trips of the Season 12th to 20th September
  • Last Trip of the Year & Grand Prize Draw Onboard – Sunday 20th September!

SINCERE APOLOGIES:

Please forgive the long delay since your last News update. It really is very remise of me and I do apologies unreservedly. It has been a combination of having 1001 things to do with our return to sailing and trying to get good media coverage in home waters of the Bristol Channel and also for our brief sortie up to the Isle of Man, Liverpool, North Wales & Irish Sea. But here at “very long” last is some behind the scenes news of our ship and it’s a case of some very good news and some not so good.

So let’s grasp the nettle and get the bad news out of the way first. At time of writing Monday 13th July out of a possible 19 days sailing we have already lost to bad weather and cancelations some 8 days. All IOM sailings proved impossible and since returning to the BC last Weds 8th we have lost 3 days including our first planned sailing to Lundy.

As I write, looking out of my office window in Cardiff the rain is beating down and the weather forecast is not good. I doubt if ever in the halcyon days of P&A Campbell and White Funnel or later years with WEL there has ever been such a disappointing start to a sailing season. This obviously cannot go on; financially it could prove very difficult for us. We have to not only breakeven but generate the funds necessary to re – fettle the ship for next year. It is disappointing after so much effort and hard work by so many people to get Balmoral sailing that we are dogged by such bad weather! But weather does not just affect us. At the end of May I tried to achieve a lifelong ambition to sail with PS Waverley on her annual Western Islands adventure. I got dispensation from the wife, flew up to Glasgow for a week on the Paddler. I did achieve one dream of sailing down the Clyde, but only got as far as Campbeltown, five hours onboard and that was it! Instead of about ten days she was only able to do five hours. The whole Western Island programme cancelled through bad weather! Heartbreaking for myself and so many others – not to mention the financial implications.

What we are desperate for is your support! More now than ever, and I have said that a few times before! Please sail with us when and as often as you can. Please spread the word, we really do need lots of passengers going up our gangway at every opportunity, if we are to make it through this (so called) summer season.

THE GOOD NEWS!

Well it is great news. As we knew we have a wonderful ship. She is really looking superb and (fingers crossed) mechanically performing brilliantly. As I say in the Headline, she is a real thoroughbred and doing everything that is asked of her. We have a fine and happy crew and the warmth of welcome to our passengers on boarding has been exceptional. From Skipper Capt Steven Mallet and First Officer Rob Bassi down we are very lucky to have such great professionals looking after Balmoral.

BALMORAL RE OPENS LLANDUDNO PIER

Just one brief news item on her early sailings. What a great joy to be on Llandudno Pier on Thursday 2nd July as the band played and the mayor cut the ribbon and greeted passengers as Balmoral “Officially Opened” from the sea Llandudno’s famous Victorian Pier. It was a quite splendid day as our passengers landed and were met and many hands shaken by the

Mayor. It was then a lovely afternoon cruise to the Little Orme and Colwyn Bay before a wonderful trip back to Liverpool, where she tied up under the famous Liver Building at the cruise liner and IOM Ferry jetty. The following day was the day that we all dreamed about, and what saving Balmoral was all for. Glorious weather, a splendid cruise to Llandudno, with many Liverpool passengers getting off to spend four hours in the lovely North Wales resort. Then a large number got onboard for a quite marvellous cruise down the Menai Straights, past Puffin Island towards Menai Bridge. The sun shone down, the scenery was magnificent, (very reminiscent of West Coast of Scotland) and we had a quite amazing cruise. With a glass of Balmorals very special own brewed Bitter in hand – hundreds of very happy passengers - all really was well with the world! We had a party of disabled and older folk join us, and speaking to them during the afternoon, they were immensely impressed about how they were helped onboard and looked after. They really appreciated how warm and helpful was the Balmoral welcome. Indeed everybody had such a special time and would have left us singing the ships praise. That is really the best form of advertising “word of mouth” and that is what will contribute to our success. If you were not able to enjoy any of her early NW & Irish Sea trips, these trips can be enjoyed again later when she returns between 4th & 10th September. It really is a wonderful cruising area and has such high passenger loading potential – if we get the weather, as we must surely do next time?

I would like to pay tribute to Dick Clegg, John Thomas, Frank Gradwell and others for their outstanding efforts for Balmoral while up in the Irish Sea. With the bad weather cancellations they worked incredibly hard. John’s shipboard commentaries were outstanding! To see her arrive at Llandudno just click on - Campbell's Cottage: Balmoral back from the brink

TIMETABLE:

As you will have seen we have really excellent Time Table Brochures for all areas and with full prices listed for all cruises. There are Bristol Channel “West Country” & Wales versions. Then there is the Irish Sea leaflet again with all details and prices etc. There is also a “National” Brochure giving a day by day listing of all sailings but without fares. This full sailing programme is on front page of this MVB Fund website. The main season Bristol Channel versions have been subject of a major exercise. Over the last few weeks our wonderful volunteers have been getting them sited in every conceivable spot that can serve us well and get us business. If you in your home area can spot a location for our brochure or can help in anyway distributing, please call the office now on 0117 325 6200.

MORE GOOD NEWS - WHITE FUNNEL WEBSITE & TICKETING:

Again more good news is that the new White Funnel website for the selling of the ship to the “general public” is now well established. It’s alive and fully up and running! If you haven’t seen it already please go to www.whitefunnel.co.uk

To set up the actual “Ticket Booking” system was a long complex task, but it was worth the wait. We got it right from the start and it is really working well. We have had so many positive comments and complements on how simple, quick and easy it is to book tickets. Early and advance bookings are vital for our cash flow, so if you know when you are sailing, (as a long gone voice from the past used to say) – “Please Book Early”.

It also will be kept up to date and with regards to sailing cancellations and amendments to timetable. So if the weather is not looking too good, please check sailings. We of course will sail whenever possible but due to the vagaries of the British weather, (as we know already), sometimes cancelations are inevitable. So please book on line, as far in advance as you can, and if the weather isn’t good check before travelling. You can of course also book your tickets by ringing our friendly (but busy) office in Bristol on 0117 325 6200

SHIPS NEWS:

Our Purser: Probably late news now and known to most of you, our Purser is Tony Gamblin. As many of you will know Tony has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the complex business of being a ship’s purser. This will be of great benefit to us in this our first year’s set up and running. He knows the ship and knows the job and is aware of what is expected of him to ensure our first season back is successful and that we have a happy ship with happy passengers.

NEW STAFF MEMBERS

We welcome “belatedly” two (not so new now) recruits Kate & Philip to our team at the White Funnel Bristol Office. They have taken to the task really well and are incredibly busy. Both are enjoying working for us and have quickly learned and understood the intricacies of the coastal cruising world. There are never two days or two telephone calls the same, but as with the ship an air of professional courtesy is projected from our office. To Janet, Linda, Kate and Philip we thank them and wish them well for their time with White Funnel and Balmoral.

SUMMER SEASON TICKET:

The “Balmoral Season Ticket” is still available (and selling well) at £395 for the full season’s sailings anywhere MVB goes! To get yours now please print off and complete the “season ticket application form on the front of the MVB Website and send with a cheque made payable to White Funnel Ltd” to White Funnel Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QD – and mark the envelope “Season Ticket”. There are plenty of sailings to still get your monies worth, plus you would be making a great contribution to Balmoral anyway. Could there be a better time to buy one?

VOLUNTEERS SUPPORT ON BOARD AND AT PIERS & HARBOURS:

Now is the time this very important small team have swung into action. It’s when we are ready to assist our ship as she calls at harbours, ports and piers picking up passengers. We are so grateful to those of you who have already volunteered but we can always use, and be very glad of more help. That may be the more glamorous bit but your help is just vital in distributing timetable brochures and posters to local shops, hotels, B&B’s, libraries and a multitude of other places, to spread the word and encourage passengers up the gangway. We need more support and help all around the country and onboard. Something just as simple as selling raffle tickets on board would also help us greatly and raise still much needed funds? Our Raffle Tickets will be kept onboard by the resident shop keeper, so if you are on a cruise and would like to meet people and gain valuable customer feedback through having a chat while “helping the cause.” Please go to the shopkeeper, who will give you brief instructions and give you the tickets. Then go around the ship “singing her praises” meeting our customers – the general public and be an ambassador for her. It’s a wonderful prizes on offer and should be an easy sell. “You are sailing on our Balmoral today, how would you like two weeks on the Fred Olsen, Balmoral with a two week cruise for two to Morocco, Spain and Portugal ex Southampton on October 25th this year.” The “Grand Prize Draw” will be onboard on the Sunday 20th September cruise. Please go to http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport to see what’s involved, to enrol and offer your support / and or for the Bristol Channel ring Dave Bassett on 07868 421338

Your Ship REALLY Needs YOU NOW!

DONATIONS / SUPPORT & BALMORALS PRIZE DRAW:

As you will be picking up we still are in need of your financial support. I am very conscious of how many times we have asked for it. But an idea that has come to me. You may not be in close proximity to Balmorals sailings, but would like to make a contribution. However small, (or big) we would be delighted. Why not make a donation via buying Prize Draw tickets? By buying tickets you would have a chance to win a wonderful holiday for two on the slightly larger, (OK and more comfortable) Fred Olsen Balmoral (as listed in paragraph above) if you would like to do that please drop me an email on paul.doubler@btinternet.com and I would be pleased to facilitate.

ALMOST FINALLY: SOCIAL MEDIA / FACEBOOK / TWITTER ETC

Can we ask a favour of any of you who use and are active and knowledgeable in the new ways of communications and social contact and interaction? Could you help “plug and publicise” Balmoral in regard to sailings, coming sailings and buying tickets etc. IF you cannot and are like me behind the times, can you get your children or even grandchildren to spread the word? They really are so much into this. It really will be a huge help. The new “White Funnel” website will be active here, but it all takes time and assistance in this area would really help! – Our Twitter feed is @MV_Balmoral. Also have a look at Balmoral TV on You Tube

AND FINALLY:

Now is the time to get passengers up her gangways, eager and excited for a great day’s adventure on our classic ship. It has been something of a miracle to return Balmoral to cruising at all. So many different people who have all worked so hard and done so much in their own fields of expertise has made it happen. All of you should be very proud of what you have achieved. However we are “far from home and dry” we must have public support and in large numbers to cover the ships high running costs and overheads. It would be tragic if in this our first season back a combination of continued poor weather and low passenger numbers affected her long term future again. For you, your family, your friends, your work colleagues, anybody at all please encourage them and spread the word to book tickets for all cruises now at www.whitefunnel.co.uk From where you will also find full details / prices & times for sailings throughout July, August and September. Or telephone White Funnel Bristol Office on 0117 325 6200 So fellow Balmoral lovers it’s up to us. Our ship is doing her bit, we just have to get the general public’s support and get passengers onboard in droves. If we can get through this summer, there is limitless potential. With the ship in the condition she is now, the team we are developing, the knowledge and experience we are building up, Balmoral ‘s opportunities are many. So are the opportunities for using her during the winter months as a static venue & attraction. Then for next season, with time to carefully plan her timetable to sail over a wider area of the UK and fully market her months ahead of sailing - the sky really is the limit!

Paul Doubler Communications
13th July 2015

 
 
BALMORAL ALMOST READY TO CAST OFF – FIRST PUBLIC SAILING JUNE 19th

APOLOGIES

I am so sorry that at this most exciting of times you have had to wait a while for this latest news update. I know you are desperately keen to hear latest news and what’s happening with Balmoral, but honestly it has been so very busy and so very fast moving it has been difficult to draw breath, but here is our latest all be it brief news update......

TIMETABLE

Great news - the final timetable is now available to download from the homepage of the website http://www.mvbalmoral.org.uk

After waiting so long this is it - complete at last! What a struggle it has been to get this completed. Lots of hard work and tremendous effort has been put in.

Much thanks and appreciation is owed to so many, but special thanks have to go to Captain Ted Davies and Captain Steve Colledge without whom we would not be sailing. Gentlemen we are in your debt.

BOOKING TICKETS

Much as we want you to very shortly buy lots of sailing tickets, please resist the temptation to ring up and try to book tickets immediately.

Of course we want to be able to sell tickets but we cannot manage (quite yet) a rush of enquiries to the office until staff and systems are finally in place.

Time tables are now at printers and will be ready for circulation hopefully later this week. An imperative is to persuade as many as possible to "sign up" to the Newsletter on the White Funnel web site so that the office can easily communicate timetable news, ticket offers and news of the ship to the widest possible audience at minimal cost, so please if you haven’t already sign up now at www.whitefunnel.co.uk

WHITE FUNNEL WEBSITE & TICKETING

This has proved a very complex undertaking, not just the website but the creation of a ticketing and payment system that will cover and manage our complicated requirements.

This was agreed and finalised last Friday and will “hopefully” be installed and up and running later this week. When we are live – rest assured you will hear about it!

SHIPS NEWS

Captain Steve Mallett, First Officer Rob Bassi, Chief Steward and Cook together with rest of crew have joined ship and are living aboard.

The Cook is getting good reviews and feeding the crew well and they are happy – so very important as a well fed crew is a happy crew!

The ship is now alive again! A massive effort is being put in by the crew and volunteers to ensure she receives her passenger certificate, two new ribs (lifeboats) are at their davits and all are working flat out to ensure she is spick and span and very literally “Ship Shape & Bristol Fashion” to sail down the Avon on Friday 19th with her first passengers in three years.

SHIP SHOP

We are delighted and very pleased that Geoffrey Ryder, Pat Murrell and their colleagues will be onboard throughout the summer running and looking after Balmorals Shop.

These friendly experienced and well known faces will be great aides to running the ship on her travels. They will be well known faces to many of you. They look forward to making new and renewing old friendships.

MEDIA / PUBLICITY LAUNCH
I know you are saying where is the publicity? Nobody is keener than us to get this underway but we have had to hold back until everything is in place, but with timetable finalised and website and ticketing systems imminent this week it’s about to happen!
NEW STAFF MEMBER
We welcome Linda Strong to the team at our White Funnel Bristol Office.

Many of you will know Linda from her previous life at Clevedon Pier.

She will be an invaluable addition to White Funnel with her many areas of expertise. One of the many things Linda will initially major on will be the setting up our team of coastal agents. Other office staff are being sought to take phone bookings.

Although we are confident that our Online Website and booking system will be easy to use and that the vast majority of you who want to buy tickets can do so on line.

FOUNDERS CLUB GOLDEN PASSES:

This has gone well, and offer is now closed. Thank you indeed to those that took up this offer. It was we appreciate a lot of money for the individuals taking one, and a big statement of faith in MVB, but we hope that much pleasure will be given over very many years travelling on Balmoral.

The revenue raised will prove invaluable to our working capital. Rest assured the passes are being created now and will be sent out over next week. Thank you Founders Club Members!

SUMMER SEASON TICKET

Lots of people are I know very keen on this and here it is!

There will be a “Balmoral Season Ticket” this summer! It will cost £395 for the full seasons sailings anywhere MVB goes! To get yours now please print off and complete the attached “season ticket application form and send with a cheque made payable to White Funnel Ltd” send to White Funnel Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QD – and mark the envelope “Season Ticket”.

We will get yours out as quickly as we can, if we receive application this week, it will be before we sail on 19th, obviously the later we receive your application it will inevitably take longer as we expect this offer to be very popular, especially on the Bristol Channel but we will do our very best.

AND FINALLY

Unbelievably we are almost there - but there is still so very much to do. Please bear with us and be patient in these last few weeks – we are a small group working so desperately hard. The ship will sail in two weeks.

What we have to do now is market her, get the message out Balmoral is back and needing hundreds of people to be coming up the gang plank at each and every destination.

We know (through nobody’s fault) we are late in this. So we will need your support during this summer but this time not asking for your donations, but to sail with us as often as you can. To enjoy Balmoral and to spread the word far and wide and encourage as many of your friends, neighbours and family to also come coastal cruising.

It’s been little short of a miracle what has been achieved. Balmoral is back thanks to so many people. The story is a book in itself – but that’s for another day! Please join us this summer.

That’s what it has all been for, so that people can once again enjoy the wonderful British coastline from the sea on our beautiful classic motor ship. To meet old and make new friends, to have adventures and fun as generations have done so before us. It’s keeping alive and reinvigorating a great British tradition.

This summer has to be a success to ensure that we are back for 2016 and so much better prepared shore side. There were many doubters. We were often down hearted ourselves after set back after set back. But though many stormy and troubled times the faith and belief held. Once again the old girl has pulled through. She (and us) looks forward to welcoming you aboard in your hundreds - to come sailing with us once again this summer. Who would have thought it possible, who would have believed it?

So fellow Balmoral lovers it’s not long now.......

Paul Doubler MV Balmoral 1st June 2015

 
 

A huge welcome aboard to Captain Steve Mallett who joined us on Tuesday 5th May when he started his pilotage exemption training on the Bristol Channel. We asked Capt Steve for a little background on himself. See what you think but I think we have just the right man to skipper Balmoral. Good to have such an experienced hand on the tiller for the challenges he and MVB will be facing in this next most exciting stage of her illustrious career.

“My First paid job afloat was in about 1966 when I spent 2 weeks in my school hols cleaning the engine room of the PS 'Queen of the South' ( ex 'Jeanie Deans') in the Tilbury docks prior to her somewhat disastrous season on the Thames! I then joined the old London & Rochester Trading Company as mate on a converted sailing barge and over the next few years worked my way up the ladder.

Joined the fledgling Weston Shipping in '72 and was master of 'Guy Chipperfield' and ' Margarita Weston'. In '76 I started my own project and re-rigged the SB Scone and did charter work for 3 or 4 years. Then it was back to coasters and worked for various companies trading far and wide from Norway in the North, to the Black sea, North Africa and Cabo Verde Islands...and all the usual Rotterdam and Antwerp stuff in between.

Then 5 years in container feeder ships (Clonmore, Clontarf) followed by 5 years in an AHTS ( Kingdom of Fife) on an MOD contract maintaining heavy moorings, navigation marks, subsea work and a couple of NATO exercises. This takes me up to January this year since when I have just been doing a bit of relief work prior to joining Balmoral. In my spare time I restore old motorbikes, organise stuff for the Motorcycle Action Group ( National riders rights organisation) and help with the upkeep of my friend's 120 year old sailing barge 'Mirosa' at Faversham.

I've always had a soft spot for old ships and over the years have worked on quite a few. As a child I used to go for trips from Southend on the old Medway Queen, Queen of the Channel, Royal Daffodil etc with my late Father who was a steamer fanatic. When the 'Balmoral' job came along I thought it would be a really nice way to round off my career on a classic coastal passenger ship”.

Thanks Steve - may we wish you the best of luck and only calm seas ahead.

Founders Gold "Lifetime" Pass

A remarkable but limited opportunity to help fund the considerable cost of launching MV Balmoral into passenger service this Summer, with the benefit of receiving a very special Founders' Gold Pass, entitling you to complimentary sailing with White Funnel Ltd on Balmoral for life! These have sold very well to date and so there are only a few more remaining to be sold. This is a once only offer that will not be repeated on the same terms. It will certainly close on 17th May (or when allocation is sold).

Gold Pass holders benefit from free travel for life* on all advertised public sailings by MV Balmoral from UK ports. In addition, it is planned that the Gold Pass holders will be entitled to the following benefits:

  • A guaranteed place on sailings (subject to booking), including the inaugural cruise from Bristol this year
  • Vouchers to use on the ship worth £40 each year
  • An invitation to an annual private Founders' Club Reception Party on board during one of our sailings
  • An invitation to pre - book a visit to the Bridge on one of the sailings each year.

To be a very special member of the Founders' Club as part of this "final push" to launch our beloved ship Balmoral into passenger service and then enjoy coastal cruising on board anywhere in the UK as often as you like , please sign up now for the Founders' Gold Pass. The Adult pass costs £2,950, Joint adult: £5,600 (Existing holders of the former Waverley Excursions Life Commodore tickets for Balmoral and Waverley may, if they wish, claim a £250 reduction on the Founders' price, on receipt of a photo copy of their pass). Please print off the application form on our website www.mvbalmoral.org.uk this also gives full terms and conditions. Or alternatively send a SAE to White Funnel Ltd, 59 Greenmeadow Drive, Penhow, Caldicot, Monmouthshire, NP 26 3AQ – you will be sent the application form by return.

Timetable

While the very provisional timetable has been available for some weeks and is available on this site, the final version is now almost completed and will be published on our website very shortly. There have been untold complications and problems. Too many to cover all here. But please be assured that our small dedicated team have worked long and hard to try to resolve all issues.

However it is with great pride I can confirm that Balmoral will resume carrying passengers with five days on the Bristol Channel between June 19th and 23rd with an extra sailing from Swansea, subject to agreement being made there. Then heading North to arrive at Whitehaven on Friday June 26th with cruises to Isle of Man, from there and Garlieston, Dumfries & Galloway for two days each.

Belfast has sadly not worked out between July 2nd and 5th so we are now looking to sail from Liverpool and North Wales on those dates and hopefully have the pleasure of Officially Opening the wonderful Pier at Llandudno. After a Tynwald Day sailing from the Isle of Man to Whitehaven on 6th July she returns to the Bristol Channel for a full sailing programme, calling at many of the BC ports, harbours and piers.

Plans are then to head north again between Friday Sept 4th and Tues 15th Sept, being on the North Wales coast with sailings from Caernarfon, Liverpool, Llandudno, Mostyn, and Menai Bridge.

Finally back to Bristol Channel for last trips of the season on Fri, Sat & Sun 18th, 19th & 20th Sept. We have everything crossed so as the great “Weather God” might be kind to us in our first vital new era of sailing.

To get all information as soon as it’s released please register now on new White Funnel Website at www.whitefunnel.co.uk once registered you will be sent final time table immediately it’s ready, plus be kept informed throughout the summer sailing season of all information concerning sailings, cruises and any special offers.

Volunteer Help Urgently Needed Now

Bringing the ship back into service has been the result of much hard work by volunteers and to ensure that her new era of operation is commercially successful:

Volunteer help is urgently needed now - to publicise the ship and the sailings she will be offering by delivering timetables and information leaflets to all suitable hotels, B&B’s, Pubs Tourist Information centres in fact anywhere that will give our sailings publicity. Plus we need support and help on the sailing days at ports, harbours and piers as Balmoral resumes cruising in a few short weeks. Also needed is onboard help when sailing such as selling Prize Draw tickets and many other things.

More details of the many opportunities to become involved are available now on our splendid volunteer support website http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport please sign up to help. Alternatively don’t hesitate to contact dick.balmoral@gmail.com for any further information or to answer any query that you may have. We desperately need your practical support and assistance in the next few weeks. Please be part of making this a wonderful first season back cruising for Balmoral!

Balmoral Operating Company

We have to have an “OP CO” to run the Balmoral - completely separate to Balmoral Fund Ltd, but it is a wholly owned subsidiary of MVBFL. A charity cannot run a commercial operation. But MVBFL will still of course retain ownership. So “White Funnel Ltd” a name synonymous with both Balmoral and coastal cruising around the UK has now been set up and will operate MVB on the Funds behalf.

A small office has been rented in a wonderful location just 100 yards from our winter layup berth.
Please make a note of Contact details: White Funnel Ltd, 70 Prince Street, Bristol, BS1 4QD Tel 0117 325 6200
New Email address is: balmoral@whitefunnel.co.uk

We have taken on our first member of staff with others to follow shortly. It’s with great pleasure we welcome Janet Small. Janet joins us with a wealth of knowledge and much experience from the railway preservation industry. She is also familiar with and understands the coastal cruising business. Welcome indeed Janet, we feel sure you will be a splendid and much needed addition to the team.

Office Assistance Needed

Do you live within easy reach of Bristol Inner harbour; do you have any office experience, could you assist with taking bookings answering phone inquiries?

If so we really could do with your help. Please ring Janet at the office, 0117 325 6200 then have an entirely “without obligation “chat about if you can help. Many thanks........

Balmoral Ownership - Ours at Last

Yes after a complex purchase process that seems to have been running almost as long as the Archers, Balmoral is now ours 100% - every last rivet of her.

There are so many other things going on now that this surprisingly is not quite the important news item it once was. But none the less it is a great feeling that after such a long time this vital cog in the chain has been firmly secured. Balmoral is now owned and cherished by the Balmoral Fund Ltd.

Now no sooner do we own her than we are chartering her out - to White Funnel Ltd - but no problem with that as White Funnel has to do all the operating of our vessel and of course employ crew and administrative staff and run all aspects of the commercial operation.

Balmoral Dry Docking

With so much news it is also good to report our ship recently left her Bristol Berth and sailed down the Avon to Avonmouth for an overnighter.

Then next day up to Sharpness Dry Dock for annual inspection and painting. She needed some replating, which was not expected, but all went well.

Under command of Captain Roger Francis MVB never missed a beat either on way up or on her return journey some ten days later.

The extended dry docking meant that Roger wasn’t able to bring her up the final leg to Bristol and we were delighted to have the assistance of Captain Colin Chandler to complete her voyage.

She looked amazing in the Avon and someone driving passed apparently “Tweeted” Great to See Balmoral steaming – this apparently received several thousand “Tweets” the power of social media, something that White Funnel will be giving lots of attention to, in the marketing of our ship.

Balmoral Grand Prize Draw 2015

Fred Olsen Line has given us a wonderful pair of tickets for a cruise on the fantastic 51,000 ton Balmoral. First prize of: Two week cruise on Fred Olsen MV Balmoral to ‘Morocco, Spain & Portugal’ cruise, ex Southampton on 25th October 2015 -Alec Lewis is arranging and handling this for us.

If you are able and wish to help sell tickets in any way please contact Alec via email on a.lewis072@btinternet.com or write to him (with SAE) to Alec Lewis, 20 Wells Road, Wookey Hole. Wells BA5 1D we will especially need people to sell tickets on board when we are sailing!

South West Ship Show

The Tenth Anniversary South West Ship Show was held at the Portishead Leisure Centre on Saturday April 18th. It was a great show and our splendid stand arranged and stocked by wonderful volunteer Brian Butler was “probably” the best stand.

It was certainly the best attended and great to have Geoff Hales Film on display and so many volunteers there to assist. We sold our very first Prize Draw Tickets and had a great day. We gave out hundreds of leaflets, provisional timetables and created lots of awareness for MVB exciting summer ahead. Huge thanks to all who helped and our very good friends on the stand next door the PSPS.

Balmoral Supporters Association BSA

This is something that we would very much like to have. (It does not have to be called “BSA” if someone has a better suggestion). But this has been mentioned several times by supporters as something to be honest we should have. It would be good to have an organisation of like minded people who love our very special ship.

Many ideas have been floated as to how it would work and what it would do etc. However the basic fact is that we need someone to organise it and set it up. I am sure there would be help forthcoming with ideas and what to do / how it would work but we need a custodian a secretary to monitor and keep membership list.

I would be prepared to arrange a special Newsletter and help in other ways but we need a figurehead / leader. If we could find a secretary / organiser we could get this up and running – in these days of the internet and emails he / she could be anywhere in the country. Could it be you?

Easy Fund Raising

We need financial support as much now as ever. While money coming in has slowed down perhaps with the euphoria of our Coastal Community Grant. In reality huge amounts are now being spent and we still of course need donations / financial help as much as ever.

A simple easy way to earn some “Easy Money” is if you (perhaps especially the lady of the house) do a lot of on line shopping. Specific retailers will give the Balmoral Fund a small cash bonus from each transaction.

Please go to http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/panel/ to register and then select MVBFL as your chosen charity.

Balmoral Calendar 2016

Ross Floyd a MVBFL Director is organising a very special 2016 MVB Calendar. He is looking for any Balmoral related picture 1949 to present date. Please send urgently via email to Ross at rossfloyd@farvis.co.uk or if hard copies post to Ross at the Bristol Office.

If the latter and you want them returned please give full address details. Full picture credit will be given on those special selected pictures that actually make the final printed calendar. It is planned to have this printed and available to buy on board later this summer.

Final Thought / Post Script

Thank you for wading through what are “as ever” lots of news items. If you did not care about MVB then you would not have got this far. What has been achieved to date is nothing short of miraculous. So many people have done so much!

It is almost unbelievable that in some six short weeks (Friday 19th June, Bristol Cruise down the Avon and back) the old lady returns to what she does best - carrying passengers. Please come onboard and have the pleasure and great experience of cruising with us this summer. Please tell all your friends, neighbours work mates everybody.

Our biggest challenge now is to sell the ship and to get lots of happy passengers at piers and harbours throughout this summer. That’s what this long quest has been all about, we are finally almost there. We desperately need to carry lots of passengers and have at the very least a break even season.

Please come onboard cruising and enjoy what Balmoral is all about. What we have all worked so hard to achieve. Take pride, pleasure and so much satisfaction in a job well done!

Paul Doubler - Balmoral Communications
Paul.doubler@btinternet.com 04.05.2015

 
 
Balmoral 2015 Provisional Timetable

Many thanks Dave Bassett for this superb photomontage, and I am pleased to announce the MV Balmoral 2015 Provisional Timetable is now available in PDF format.

The website homepage has also been updated with with yet another excellent flick courtesy of video guru Geoff Hale, featuring Balmoral's recent trip to Sharpness Dry Dock for her annual overhaul.

An absolutely stunning photo of Balmoral's departure has recently been featured in the Bristol Post, showing the ship passing its distinguished neighbour SS Great Britain in Bristol's city docks:
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Reader-s-stunning-picture-MV-Balmoral-leaves/story-26324299-detail/story.html

Many thanks everyone for your help promoting the MV Balmoral website, the amount of traffic we have been receiving from your facebook and twitter feeds is quite considerable. I am pleased to announce a record high 911 website visitors last week, plus a record high 2,428 visitors in March 2015, beating the previous record 2,329 visitors in May 2014.

Furthermore every 'MV Balmoral' search result on google's page 1 refers to MV Balmoral the excursion ship, aside from result number 4 on this page which is occupied by the Fred Olsen liner of the same name.

MV Balmoral is also also top on a number of related searches - Balmoral isn't a steamship nor is she currently operational, yet interestingly we are top on a google 'pleasure steamer' search, ahead of any of Britain's actual operational steamships!

Any further assistance you can give us online will be much appreciated, please read on to see how you can help from the comfort of your armchair!

Regards
Kieran McCarthy, Website Manager
Email kieran68@hotmail.com

mvbalmoral.org.uk Web Update **Show & Grow**

www.mvbalmoral.org.uk >

MV Balmoral is a distinguished member of a rare breed of historic ships worldwide still operating coastal excursions. It is a member of Britain's national historic fleet, is historically and culturally significant and it's vitally important that we continue to 'show and grow' the Balmoral website to spread the message about the unique opportunity to avail of affordable coastal excursions in the near future.

If you have a personal website, facebook or twitter page, own a forum or are a member of one, please post a link to the Balmoral website along with a message to your followers about its important mission. If you are aware of any website which could display a link to ours, please email the website manager kieran68@hotmail.com

Remember every hit the website receives is a potential donation to the fund, and is making Balmoral and Britain's incredible maritime heritage more visible to the general public and to press / media groups who may be interested in creating further publicity for Balmoral.

The Balmoral Website has recently been updated with some new information, photos and video. The Help Us> page now contains further information about how you can help to promote the website to a wider national and international audience.

 
 
Balmoral Founders Club Gold Pass

A remarkable but limited opportunity to help fund the considerable cost of launching MV Balmoral into passenger service this Summer, with the benefit of receiving a very special Founders' Gold Pass, entitling you to complimentary sailing with White Funnel Ltd on Balmoral for life!

Building on the famous heritage of the former P & A Campbell White Funnel Fleet, and the coastal cruising of paddle steamer Waverley, Balmoral will be operated by "White Funnel Ltd", an operating company wholly owned by MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, the charity which has achieved such remarkable success in bringing Balmoral back into a position where, with some additional start up funding, she will be ready to sail this Summer. Only a limited number of these very special Founders' Gold Passes will be issued, on a first come first served basis, and they are made available only until 17 May 2015 (or when allocation sold).

Gold Pass holders benefit from free travel for life* on all advertised public sailings by MV Balmoral from UK ports. In addition, it is planned that the Gold Pass holders will be entitled to the following benefits:

  • A guaranteed place on sailings (subject to booking), including the inaugural cruise from Bristol this year
  • Vouchers to use on the ship worth £40 each year
  • An invitation to an annual private Founders' Club Reception Party on board during one of our sailings
  • An invitation to pre - book a visit to the Bridge on one of the sailings each year

To be a very special member of the Founders' Club as part of this "final push" to launch our beloved ship Balmoral into passenger service and then enjoy coastal cruising on board anywhere in the UK as often as you like , please sign up now for the Founders' Gold Pass.

The Adult pass costs £2,950, Joint adult: £5,600 (Existing holders of the former Waverley Excursions Life Commodore tickets for Balmoral and Waverley may, if they wish, claim a £250 reduction on the Founders' price, on receipt of a photo copy of their pass).

Please print off the Application Form (PDF document) this also gives full terms and conditions. Or alternatively send a SAE to White Funnel Ltd, 59 Greenmeadow Drive, Penhow, Caldicot, Monmouthshire, NP 26 3AQ - we can send you the hard copy of form together with the sailing timetable in same SAE!

This really does represent a great opportunity for you to be a part of Balmoral’s future. Funds generated from these tickets will greatly increase our ability to sail successfully through 2015 and then into the future. “Ask not what this ticket can do for you, but what your contribution can do for Balmoral.”

Thank You!

 

Time Critical for Balmoral

Since the last Balmoral report so much has happened but so much more also remains to be done. We now only have thirteen weeks left until the first sailing of Balmorals new era which are being planned for the weekend of 19, 20 & 21st June. These will be very special “celebratory” cruises calling and renewing friendships and acquaintances at our Bristol Channel piers, harbours and ports.

We really want to make this weekend very special showing off Balmoral to as many people as possible. It’s important also to give big thanks to so many who have helped us since we last sailed in 2012. These cruises will be in great demand so when tickets go on sale in a few weeks time, be sure to get yours, as we hope to see “ship full” / “sold out” signs up.

But this sailing will only take place after a huge amount of work and effort. Our small but incredibly hard working team, against all odds have to pull this off. To be honest for Balmoral to sail on June 20th, after a near three year layup and carrying passengers, is to put it mildly will be nothing short of miraculous!

Every day we come across more problems and difficulties to overcome. Everything is being done by a very small voluntary “unpaid” committee and the “work load” is unreal. Inevitably our supporters will have their own opinions on each and every aspect of her season.

Please accept if it’s not exactly as you expected or you think it should be, that each and every decision is being taken “carefully” for the very best motive. This is to actually get Balmoral sailing and making a good profit in this first very challenging year.

If the time table is not exactly as you think it should be, or we do not call at your favourite port, please support us anyway and have faith in us. We only have one objective that is success for our ship. We are doing our very best and are in possession of all the facts, costs, information and tide tables. The complexities of running a ship are enormous!

Advanced Timetable

This is virtually completed and will be published on our website within days. But it is very much subject to confirmation and after being finalised and agreement sought with certain landing points. We have had “unforeseen” problems with intended visits to places such as Watchet and Newport, put in doubt by silting.

There are also other points of concern that all need to be clarified. But we are getting an initial timetable out: to show our plans for the season ahead.

To receive a hard copy please write (enclosing a SAE) to:
White Funnel Ltd, 59 Greenmeadow Drive, Penhow, Caldicot, Monmouthshire, NP 26 3AQ Still TBC (but at time of writing) it looks as if after three days start up on BC June 20th 21st & 22nd and then head North to arrive at Whitehaven on Friday June 26th then cruises on the Cumbrian coast to Isle of Man, then to Belfast between July 2nd and 5th for the Tall Ships. Then return to the BC for a full sailing programme, calling at many of the BC ports, harbours and piers.

Then north again between Friday Sept 4th and Weds 16th Sept, being on the North Wales coast with sailings from Caernarvon, Liverpool, Llandudno, Mostyn, and Menai Bridge. Finally back to Bristol Channel for last trips of the season on Sat & Sun Sept 20th & 21st. By which time it is hoped that all has gone well, we have had a good summer, and sufficient money has been made to carry us through the winter in great heart for next year 2016.

Then hopefully we can “draw breath” plan and create a timetable for 2016 to take Balmoral around the UK to as many areas as possible. With the benefit of a season’s experience, time can be spent on planning and marketing the vessel to maximise her great potential. We of course want to sail her on the south coast, around to London, up the Thames, to the North East, indeed anywhere she can have good passenger loadings – and above all make a profit!

Balmoral Support - Your Help Needed

We are very mindful of all the help we are going to need not only onboard or at Bristol but at all her calling points around the UK. This really is vital and to this end we have created our own Balmoral Support Website. This is your chance to help us be successful this year and long into the future. We know so many folk love Balmoral and we hope you will come forward around the country to be involved to represent MVB and to be our ambassadors around the country. We hope you have a lot of fun and enjoy doing something we all love.

Communication is of course a two way thing and that has to be our watch word keeping in touch with you and informed as to what’s going on. Please help us and go to the website to enrol. With Balmoral returning to service in June volunteers will be vitally needed to assist both ashore and afloat.

To help Supporters see what is needed please go to http://tinyurl.com/balmoralsupport through which Supporters can learn more and sign up for specific roles in the different areas and provide a rough indication of their likely time availability. Ashore the main roles will be Local Publicity, Local Promotion and Pier Hosting.

On board, Shopkeepers, Commentators, Supporters Afloat and Catering Volunteers will be needed. More information about these roles is provided in the “Job Outlines” on the new web site. BALMORAL SUPPORT team members will play a vital role in enhancing passenger enjoyment and need to be able to share their enthusiasm for the vessel in all the activities they undertake.

The sign up system excludes volunteers to work on the ship (winter maintenance team / winter functions / relief crew) and as office staff. These opportunities are listed on a separate page with e-mail links provided so that anyone interested can contact the people responsible for each activity. Please sign-up as soon as possible so we can build a really strong and effective BALMORAL SUPPORT team. We hope a large number of supporters come forward to help us – we really do need you.

Office Staff @ Bristol

With the new office at Bristol soon to be operational we will be desperate for office and administrational support and help on a daily basis. We hope the office will be close to Balmoral and we really would be delighted to hear from you. For further information please ring Mike Cornick on 07917 712815

Country & Western Night Onboard

Next Saturday 28th March. With thanks to Dave Bassett who has arranged a gig by the very popular Barry Walsh Band, onboard in our Britannia Lounge. Come along if you can for a really great night.

Tickets are limited to 70 and cost £10 available on the night (if any left) or from www.bristolticketshop.co.uk Full details on Barry and his band can be found at http://www.thebarrywalshband.co.uk/shows?id=74934

Balmoral Operating / Trading Company

We told you last month why we have to have a “OP CO” to run the Balmoral separate to Balmoral Fund Ltd, MVBFL will still of course retains ownership. We told you (as we thought then) that the company would be called “Balmoral Coastal Cruises Ltd”.

Unfortunately we have been advised that to have the word “Cruises” in a company title could prove complicated and is not recommended.

So the company will be called “White Funnel Ltd.”A name synonymous with both Balmoral and coastal cruising around the UK.

Operating Staff

We have advertised for and recently interviewed several candidates for the position of Master, Chief Engineer and Purser. We do have some applicants with great potential to fill these vital roles; but it is fair to say that this has not proved easy. It is a very complex task being master of Balmoral.

With all the rules, regulations, health & safety restrictions and complex hours of working, down time etc. Masters that were once plentiful are in shorter supply today. But we are optimistic of success.

Captain Roger Francis a very experienced master mariner, who recently joined the board of MVBFL, has helped considerably with officer interviews and indeed many other areas where his expertise is proving invaluable.

Roger brought Balmoral down from Sharpness to Avonmouth and then up Avon back to MShed last year and I think fell under her spell – as of course we all have! Welcome aboard Roger and thanks for all your support!

Balmoral Ownership

This is a story that has been running so long it is almost like a Norse Saga. However as I have said before (several times) it is virtually complete, we are 99.999% there! Everything has been signed and exchanged, and all documents are now being submitted to the MCA for her to be re-registered in our name.

This of course has been rendered rather “old news” as we know we own her, and the fact that the Coastal Communities Fund had confidence to give us the grant only confirmed that.

We had planned quite a celebration to take ownership, but we are now too busy getting her ready to sail.

Balmoral Grand Prize Draw 2015
Thanks to Fred Olsen line we are especially delighted that we will be offering you and all our sailing passengers, in fact anybody at all who will part with £1 for a draw ticket to win the chance to sail on the slightly bigger MV Balmoral.

We have very kindly been given by Fred Olsen Line a wonderful pair of tickets for a cruise on the fantastic 51,000 ton Balmoral. Yes a First prize of: Two week cruise on Fred Olsen MV Balmoral To ‘Morocco, Spain & Portugal’ cruise, ex Southampton on 25th October 2015 - Our good friend and supporter Alec Lewis is very kindly arranging and handling the complexities of this for us.

We are of course very grateful. We are awaiting the draw licence and tickets being printed, then we hope you will support this and who knows sail on two Balmorals in one year! If you are able and wish to help sell tickets in any way please contact Alec via email on a.lewis072@btinternet.com or write to him (with SAE) to Alec Lewis, 20 Wells Road, Wookey Hole. Wells BA5 1DN.

Good News - Thanks to Red Funnel

Balmorals first owners the Red Funnel Fleet recently collected in public donations for us £5,000. Balmoral was of course Red Funnels Flagship and sailed for many years as a passenger and car ferry between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. We are hoping next year to work with Red Funnel and arrange a grand reunion when MVB returns to her old waters.

Huge thanks to Red Funnel and their Marketing and Communications Director Jonathan Green. It is wonderful that they have never lost touch with their old ship and offered us much support and encouragement. We are very grateful.

Paddle Steamer Preservation Society

We would like to say a big thank you to the officials of the PSPS for granting Balmoral “allied status” of the organisation, a society that many belong to and are passionate about anyway. While “obviously” not a paddler, MVB has for a great number of years been a much loved and integral part of the PSPS.

Things change and time has moved on. To everyone’s delight it looks as if a “shipping miracles” may just happen. We are grateful for the much needed publicity given to MVB within Paddle Wheels, and especially the efforts of the various PSPS Branch secretaries for including “late news” within their own Branch newsletters. Also of course the “unsung heroes” at branch level the envelope packers and stuffers to whom we send our thanks for enclosing our leaflets.

We appreciate this and take nothing for granted. We acknowledge (as was ever the case), the need for our ships and officials to be in harmony, to help each other where possible. We all without exception must do all we can to keep our great ships sailing successfully.

Onboard Mind, Body & Spirit Day and Night

Huge thanks to Ross and Gill Floyd who last Saturday arranged and then hosted this unusual event. As Ross said, “we made many new friends and gained some excellent potential helpers and contacts, the ship looked fantastic and the footfall was astounding- with everyone saying how much they enjoyed their visit.

The interior was unrecognisable from a week before and looked lovely. We had many comments about how bright and clean she was and how well looked after the engine room appeared with all that polished pipe work.

Thanks to all volunteers who did such a great job actually cleaning and preparing the ship for the event. Also those that helped throughout the long day and night, raising an excellent £800 for the fund.”

South West Ship Show

The Tenth Anniversary South West Ship Show will be held at the Portishead Leisure Centre on Saturday April 18th, please come along and see us at our stand at this exciting show.

If you would like to help us sell MVB on the day, your help would be welcome? Much to find of interest to all lovers of the sea and ships – plus find out very latest info on MVB.

Paul Doubler
Balmoral Communications
Paul.doubler@btinternet.com
24.03.2015

mvbalmoral.org.uk Web Update **Show & Grow**

www.mvbalmoral.org.uk >

MV Balmoral is a distinguished member of a rare breed of historic ships worldwide still operating coastal excursions. It is a member of Britain's national historic fleet, is historically and culturally significant and it's vitally important that we continue to 'show and grow' the Balmoral website to spread the message about the unique opportunity to avail of affordable coastal excursions in the near future.

If you have a personal website, facebook or twitter page, own a forum or are a member of one, please post a link to the Balmoral website along with a message to your followers about its important mission. If you are aware of any website which could display a link to ours, please email the website manager kieran68@hotmail.com

Remember every hit the website receives is a potential donation to the fund, and is making Balmoral and Britain's incredible maritime heritage more visible to the general public and to press / media groups who may be interested in creating further publicity for Balmoral.

The Balmoral Website has recently been updated with some new information, photos and video. The Help Us> page now contains further information about how you can help to promote the website to a wider national and international audience.

Regards
Kieran McCarthy, Website Manager
Email kieran68@hotmail.com

 
 
** News Update 27 February 2015 **

Balmoral Preparations for Sea moving on Apace

In the four weeks since we announced the great news of the Coastal Community Fund donation to Balmoral of £344,000 things have been moving on apace. However without sounding negative, we still await the full terms and conditions of the CCF Funding. So are not yet able to ring down to the engine room for “Full Steam Ahead”. We have to be cautious and plan very carefully. However we have to get everything ready to sail – otherwise we literally “miss the boat” for 2015. So the compiled list and detailed costings of what “physically” is needed to for Balmoral to sail is being worked through. We have placed an advert for a Captain and key officers and we are looking at securing office space in Bristol near the ship. Could any Bristolians assist here? We will also be taking on at least two members of staff to run the shore operation. To facilitate this we are setting up a wholly owned company to operate our ship, which will be called (initially anyway) “Balmoral Coastal Cruises Limited” and are in the process of appointing directors to fill the several important roles required to control and manage everything – it’s a very complex operation. This new Company needs a significant sum of working capital in order to pay crew, purchase fuel and other supplies etc. before we commence sailing and earning money. It is crucial that we find this, and with this in mind, we are making available a limited number of very special “Founders' Club Gold Passes” which will offer unlimited travel on advertised Balmoral cruises for life, plus other benefits. These will be limited in number and will only be available until 30th April.

With regard to the timetable, it has been recognised that we are not able to get the ship to sea for May, there is just so much to do. We are therefore looking at a late June start. We are working towards our first sailing being Friday 19th June, then hopefully sailing until early September. We will primarily be on the Bristol Channel but also taking Balmoral to North Wales and the North West of England. Our great team are working extremely hard to achieve this. Our timetable is critical and we are at an advanced stage with it, but “sadly” are not able to reveal too much today. We have to ensure it is correct, interesting and above all profitable. We want to come out to you our wonderful supporters with the fully signed off timetable and all the exciting information you want about your ship. So rather than issuing things quickly, then making changes and amendments, if you can bear with us for a short time longer - all will be revealed as soon as possible. We have to get our first season spot on -there will be no second chance. After our first season we will then have the knowledge, experience and support staff to be able to give 2016 a full and varied larger scale sailing programme. Copies of the 2015 timetable and of the special Founders' Club Gold Pass will be forwarded to you as soon as available on receipt of an S.A.E. Please send S.A.E. for the details and timetable to MV Balmoral Fund Ltd., 59 Greenmeadow Drive, Penhow, Caldicot, Mon. NP26 3AQ. Details will also be available shortly on Balmorals splendid website and via our Newsletter, available by signing up at www.mvbalmoral.org.uk

These really are such exciting times, but very challenging for us, a group of volunteers working extremely hard. We (as I continually keep saying) have so much to do and there is less and less time now to do it in. But we hope to bring you what has been dreamed of - a fully reinvigorated Balmoral, with an exciting (all be it shorter) programme, a happy ship for our crew, supporters and of course the general public, who will all enjoy sailing on this much loved vessel once again this summer after a two year absence from our harbours, jetties and piers. We have to ensure everything is right and in place for a successful season. As always we close asking for your continued support. Keep watching our website for all your ships news as it happens but please ensure you have signed up for our regular “Balmoral Newsletters”. It’s where we send direct to your inbox the latest news on your ship!

Paul Doubler Communications / Feb 27 2015
www.mvbalmoral.org.uk
Paul.doubler@btinternet.com

 
 

To celebrate the wonderful news of Balmoral's recent grant aid, supertalented video guru Geoff Hale has put together a most excellent feature length movie detailing the ship's progress during the last year, along with a fascinating commentary.

In anticipation of the ship becoming operational again in the near future, it's more important than ever that we continue to 'show and grow' the Balmoral website to spread the message about the unique opportunity to avail of affordable coastal excursions on this beautiful and historically significant ship. Please check out the Help Us page to see how you can help!

** Feature Length Movie ** with full commentary, documenting
Balmoral's progress over the past year. Courtesy of Geoff Hale

 
 

** Breaking News! ** Full Steam Ahead for Balmoral!

I know I am mixing my metaphors’ but there aren’t any nautical ones I know of that refer to our twin diesels! But I am delighted and thrilled to write probably the most exciting Balmoral Newsletter ever! It’s great news, really the most positive message we have been able to give you.

Today (Monday 26th January) onboard Balmoral’ The Rt. Hon Stephen Williams MP for Bristol West, (but more importantly the Minister for the Coastal Communities) formally announced that we had been successful in our bid to the Coastal Communities Fund. We have been awarded £344000.00 phased over two years! Huge thanks to Mike Tedstone and Carol Clammer who steered a very complex bid application and secured this for us. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

In a packed Britannia Lounge, full of the folk who have done so much for our ship we listened to a warm welcome from Chairman Dave Bassett. Then Stephen Williams gave a sincere speech on how pleased he was to be on board and how richly we deserved this grant. He also promised to sail on one of our first trips. As Dave said, I think we can give him a free ticket! Then Nigel Coombes our President and “Father Figure” to our organisation spoke with his usual eloquence and pride about how he simply “just could not believe” what we had been awarded. There was a strict news embargo on our success so only a select few knew the nature and size of the award. When Stephen said £344000.00 there was a sharp intake of breath and tumultuous applause broke out! Finally a much appreciated and welcome message was read out from Tim Wardley, Chairman of the National Piers Society, who sadly not being too well, could not be with us. Tim spoke of the synergies of course between piers and Balmoral and how piers like Penarth and Clevedon had benefited from CCF Grants. Now one Britain’s most iconic pleasure steamers will again carry lots of passengers between our wonderful piers and harbours bringing economic prosperity to seaside towns.

What wonderful news! It is virtually twelve months to the day that I wrote my first ever Balmoral Newsletter. Jan 28th last year we were in dark times, 1001 things to do, no money or even knew the condition structurally of our ship. We had to raise the money and get her to dry dock; hope there wasn’t too much wrong and get the old girl sailing again. Without going into detail here, (its well documented anyway) what a fantastic last twelve months we have had. So much done by so many different people to keep our ship alive and to bring us to where we are today. In all honesty writing the last Newsletter only a few short weeks ago, while trying to remain positive, we were up against it. Time was running out and we still needed so much money. Well we still have 1001 things to do, but we almost (and I do say almost) have the money we need. While the £344,000 is amazing, it is over two years and there are conditions on how it is to be spent. So it’s not quite yet “plain sailing” and “clear waters ahead”. We can however say we have come through the “eye of the hurricane”. There is now great excitement, coupled with nervous apprehension about the positive future for our great ship.

Now is not the time to go into all that is happening, but be confident that work is really going ahead apace in all areas of getting Balmoral prepared to sail again this year. There really is a huge amount to do and please remember that while there are a lot of exceptionally committed and skilled people working towards our shared aim – we are all volunteers. Enthusiasts putting in so much time and effort because we all love our ship. But now we will have to employ people, to run the operating company, to sell and market the 2015 programme and everything else required to be a successful business. We need to acquire and set up an office. We have to take on a captain and crew, train them up and get our 2015 Passenger Certificate. Making sure we employ the right people who understand what’s required and work with passion and enthusiasm and present a great welcome to our customers, a superb experience which will bring them back again and again. Balmoral has to work first time. We won’t get a second chance. So yet again I close by saying we still need financial help? Our grant is over two years so all of it is not available to the charity immediately. It's targeted to specific - and eligible - tasks and topics (things and activities). This year's funding commences in April, and of course much of what we need to do is "up front now". We have to have a healthy reserve of working capital, it’s no good if two weeks of storms and no income scuppers us. We want more people to literally “come on board” and help us in any way they can. We have met the strict criteria of a national funding organisation required, and they had the confidence in us to award the grant! We hope this finally proves to all that Balmoral can sail – and in only a few short months time. So no pressure then?

Lots of other news items and good things to report but of course today it’s all about our grant. Please support us even more now, look out for more exciting news in the next few weeks. Balmoral has done many wonderful things, had some amazing days over her long career. Today was one of the best!

She is 736 tonnes and 203’6” long, of steel and wood construction, an inanimate object. But as we know certain ships have a soul and seem to be alive to our inmost feelings. As I headed towards Temple Meads station after such a splendid day, I turned and looked back, a last bit of smoke puffed from her funnel, I know it’s crazy but I swear she had a rather pleased and contented look. Her sparkle was back!

Paul Doubler Communications
www.mvbalmoral.org.uk
Paul.doubler@btinternet.com

 
 

Make or Break Time for Balmoral's 2015 Season
£200,000 Needed to Sail this Year!
The classic coastal cruise ship, MV Balmoral, member of the United Kingdom’s Historic Ships list has not sailed commercially since 2012. As consort to the Paddle Steamer Waverley for over 25 years she was a regular and much loved visitor to piers and harbours around the country carrying over 2 million excursion passengers, before being withdrawn from service by the Waverley organisation at the end of the 2012 season. Laid up in Bristol Inner Harbour a small but dedicated group of enthusiasts and lovers of this famous ship have not only kept her alive but during 2013-2014 raised over £200,000 from individual supporters, successfully got her to dry dock and after various repairs and inspections successfully passed her 5 Year MCA (Maritime Coastguard Authority) Certificates. She is in first class mechanical condition and good to sail again.

On the 31st December a “Sale & Purchase Agreement” document was signed by Waverley Steam Navigation and the Balmoral Fund Ltd the new owners of this splendid and much loved vessel. The final piece in the jigsaw being the transfer of the Heritage Lottery Mortgage (Non Repayable) to BFL. This is very much ongoing as I write this and should be completed soon. This will “at last” mean that our applications to various funding bodies such as the Coastal Communities Fund can be progressed. This inevitably takes time. But time like full funding is the commodity we do not have. We are now into January and time available is running out. Vital time needed to prepare and get everything in place for the full sailing season, which is what we hope to do this year.

So the race is very much on for Balmoral to sail again and carry passengers commercially in 2015. The monetary facts are as follows: To sail this season we estimated we needed some £250,000; We wrote out to the many supporters who pledged and donated the funding to get the ship dry docked and pass her 5 Year MCA Certificates and “Grandfather Rights” retention. (After which the coffers were virtually bare). Since the latest appeal was launched some £50,000 has been donated, again from our magnificent supporters. So now we just have to quickly raise a further £200,000! There is new navigational equipment needed, new life saving equipment and various other things such as new galley equipment and full bunkering required before she can sail. Then we have to set up an operating company to successfully operate and market the vessel, employ a ships crew and train up to get passenger certification. Then staff to run the shore based operation to sell and market our cruising programme. A new timetable has been compiled with emphasis on shorter and educational cruises. If we can raise £200,000 in time Balmoral can commence sailing at the end of May. However there are just a few short weeks to raise £200,000 - Its chicken and egg of course. We have to make the plans but cannot over commit in case we don’t get funding in time. There are literally hundreds of complex and challenging things to do!

If the money is not raised quickly there will be insufficient time for Balmoral to sail at the end of May and do the full season that so many have hoped for, whilst even a part season would cost almost as much. For Balmoral to miss another year could have catastrophic consequences. It could mean that she never actually sails again. Surely too many people have worked so hard and given and contributed so much for that to happen? But while we have always been asking for donations, this time it really is now or quite possibly never.

To sail this year please help donating as much or anything you can!

To donate please send a cheque to John Thomas, MV Balmoral Fund Ltd, 23 Adder Hill, Great Boughton, Chester, CH3 5RA. Please advise if it can be Gift Aided (giving us an extra 25%) and give your name and address. It would also help us considerably if you may be in a position to make a regular monthly donation via a fixed sum Standing Order. To do this please contact John, either by post or email at johnthomas23@gmail.com he would be delighted to send you a Standing Order Form. Remember you can also easily make a donation via a credit or debit card using the following link and please tick the Gift Aid box.

Penarth Town Council Supports Balmoral

The first and only (so far) authority to support us financially has been Penarth, where before Christmas we went along and met the mayor and officials from the council on the splendid Penarth Pier.

Chairman of Balmoral Fund Dave Bassett together with John Spears and Captain Roger Francis were delighted to receive a cheque for £1000 and the Councillors warm wishes for our successful return to the Bristol Channel.

Return of Old Style Volunteers’ Christmas Lunch

A really special and much enjoyed event was re-established onboard Balmoral on Dec 15th. A regular event provided by the late and much missed Ian McMillan was held on board, thought of and implemented by Ross Floyd and his wonderful lady wife Gill.

It was Gill of course who did all the cooking and presented a splendid meal for some 50 Volunteers in our newly cleared out and cleaned “Dining Saloon”.

How festive it was with a wonderful Ukulele band providing the entertainment.

Wonderful food, a little “liquid refreshment” and great conversation, it was indeed a special day. So good for so many of the people who work so hard for our ship to sit down, relax and eat and drink and be merry, just talking to one another in a happy atmosphere. Well done & thanks Gill & Ross.

A shortened Newsletter this month. There is so much happening and going on but total emphasis has to be on fund raising!

Paul Doubler
Balmoral Communications
Tel 07808 096 074
www.mvbalmoral.org.uk
Paul.doubler@btinternet.com

 
 
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