New Hope Floats Exhibition opens at the Scottish Maritime Museum

Scottish Maritime Museum, Harbour Road, Irvine

Saturday 12 February – Sunday 1 May

A new exhibition revealing the twisting story of Skylark IX, which is believed to be one of only two ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ from the World War 2 Operation Dynamo surviving in Scotland, opens at the Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside on Saturday 12 February.

‘Hope Floats’, which has been curated by the Skylark IX Recovery Project which cares for Skylark IX, charts Skylark’s story from launching as a pleasure boat in 1934 through her wartime service and final sinking in 2010 up to her new role inspiring and changing the lives of people recovering from addictions.

The exhibition also celebrates the achievements of the Skylark IX Recovery Project over the last two years made possible by a National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) award in 2018.

The NLHF award has enabled the Dumbarton-based Skylark IX Recovery Project to plan vital work to help stabilise Skylark’s condition and deliver boatbuilding training for Alternatives Community-based Drug Recovery Service clients and therapeutic arts and heritage projects for people facing social isolation.

Visitors to the Hope Floats exhibition can also see the Skylark IX Lockdown Community Patchwork Quilt which remembers Skylark’s role in times of war and peace and celebrates hope. The quilt was created by 50 community members connecting with the Project during the first Lockdown.

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

Exhibition events, which will include family activities, will be announced soon.

Claire McDade, Project Manager at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, says:

“We are immensely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and players of the National Lottery for making possible the achievements of the past two years and helping change the lives of our Volunteer Trainees recovering from addictions.

“The Skylark IX Recovery Project was formed out of hope and a belief in the possibility of change and recovery. Skylark took part in Operation Dynamo and carried thousands of folk out onto the water for enjoyment. Today, our indomitable Dunkirk Little Ship is once again a beacon of hope and inspiration for those on their own journey of recovery and those in need within our communities.

“With lots of exciting new projects in 2022, including creating an oral history archive and Skylark tapestry and establishing a rowing club in Dumbarton, we hope the exhibition brings many more people to enjoy and get involved in Skylark’s wonderful and ever evolving story.”

The Hope Floats exhibition also recognises the many Skylark IX supporters who fundraised tirelessly in the early years and support from West Dunbartonshire Council and The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Skylark is currently in the care of the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine whilst the Skylark IX Recovery Project works in partnership with the Museum to shape plans for her future at the heart of the Spirit of Skylark Centre.

Funding allowing, this proposed £3m heritage attraction, community hub and boatbuilding workshop will be located at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s second site in Dumbarton and enable the Project to reach and support more people across West Dunbartonshire.

The Skylark IX Recovery Trust is a collaboration between Alternatives Community-based Drug Recovery Service, The Vale of Leven Remembrance Association and Leven Cruising Club, with support from the Scottish Maritime Museum.

Hope Floats, which runs until Sunday 1 May, is included in Museum Admission. Up to three children go FREE with each Adult/Concession.

The exhibition will then open at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Denny Tank in Dumbarton on Saturday 7 May.

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