‘Recovery for Recovery’ by Anne Dyer

Skylark came into my life as part of my work at Alternatives Recovery Project where I am Depute Manager.

At that time, she was under water at Loch Lomond and in such a sorry state. I happened to be scanning the local paper. Some local people who knew her history had raised an SOS to see if a community project could help and our charity responded to this cry for help on the off chance we could be of some use. We soon gathered steam with like-minded people and set off on a mission to save and make good use of this precious Dunkirk Little Ship.

How blessed we were to have this historic shop right here on our doorstep and, as I reflect back, I can relate to her life in terms of troubled waters.

Like many of our local people who, in times of trouble, face extraordinary circumstances in day to day life, they too can sometimes feel like they are drowning. So, not knowing much about boats, nor about Dunkirk really but knowing loads about people and the strength they can gain from coming together with a common purpose, we set off to explore the project as a newly formed Trust.

It has been a huge learning curve for all of us, but for me, it has been one of the most rewarding projects too. Right from the off, we matched her recovery story to our clients’ stories and married them both. Recovery through recovery; what a great strapline.

The project has been and still aspires to be a chance to:

  • blend her rescue mission and restoration with the restoration and recovery of community members in need.
  • bring folk right into the heart of a vital WW2 story (some of whom have never known such details and the pivotal role of Operation Dynamo).
  • bring folks a training programme, educational programme, community in action and to honour the past.
  • keep her story alive well into the future and remember our past with great pride.

We have dressed up for events in WW2 attire, baked scones till the troops come home, sang, danced, ran, walked, mucked out mess, picked each other up and laughed many times over all in support of our vision.

We have stood on the shores of Dunkirk and been moved to tears at the war graves, spoken to local WW2 Land Girls and been humbled to connect with veterans and their families as we laid wreaths at the Cenotaph together.

We also caught the attention of the National Lottery Heritage Fund along the way and they believe in and support our mission to achieve great things again for Skylark.

We have set up a boat building school at the Scottish Maritime Museum (SMM) in Dumbarton (The Denny Tank) and started building St Ayles skiffs both here and in SMM Irvine as a start of a training school for recovery clients.

The list is long and we have been chipping our way through it even during Lockdown. You ask me why am I still pushing on in her story and, to that, I say why not?

Anne Dyer, Depute Manager at Alternatives and Advisor to the Skylark IX Recovery Trust 


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