Skylark IX Helps Young Dumbarton Designer Realise Her Talent

A gifted 12 year old Dumbarton youngster who has her sights set on becoming a fashion designer has been awarded a grant to help her learn the tools of the trade.

With support from the Dumbarton-based Skylark IX Recovery Project, Sophie Stewart of Renton successfully applied to the Nurturing Talent Fund led by Clifftop Projects of West Dunbartonshire.

Sophie was encouraged to apply to the Clifftop Project’s Nurturing Talent Fund by the Skylark IX Recovery Project team when they saw her enthusiasm and potential at the free, drop in Make Do and Mend sessions the Project ran over the summer.

Entering the 12-15 year old category, Sophie was granted the full amount she applied for, £235.94.

She now plans to spend the grant money on a digital drawing tablet and pen, a sewing starter kit, drawing pencils, a pad and material offcuts.

Jade West, Community Engagement Coordinator at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, explains:
“We are absolutely over the moon for Sophie. She was so eager to learn from our textile expert Suzanne Marshall-Smith during our Make Do and Mend sessions and showed such talent. The grant will make a real difference by enabling her to develop her skills and further her aspirations for a bright future as a designer.

“We are also delighted that Sophie’s success has come from our Make Do and Mend group and the connections we have with our friends at Clifftop Projects.”

Lottie Barker, Artistic Director at Clifftop Projects, adds:
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the creativity shown by young people in their applications to the Nurturing Talent Fund.

“We received a total of 60 applications and were able to fund 39 young people to pursue their love of the arts with everything from creating a dance film with local teenagers to studying cake decoration and recording a podcast about local stories.

“Sophie’s application showed such passion for her artform and I am glad that with this funding she will be able to build upon the support and encouragement she received from the Skylark IX Recovery Project earlier this year.

“I am passionate about Clifftop Projects working in collaboration with other local organisations and this is a prime example of how organisations collaborating can provide ongoing support for individuals. We are delighted to be part of West Dunbartonshire’s thriving hub of community development activity.”

Clifftop Projects’ Nurturing Talent Fund, which is now closed, was funded by the Scottish Government’s Youth Arts Fund through Creative Scotland with support from the Youth Music Initiative and Time to Shine. The Youth Arts Fund ensures creative opportunities for children and young people continue to exist across Scotland despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Skylark IX Recovery Trust recently announced ambitious plans to build the Spirit of Skylark Centre in the grounds of the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank) on Castle Street in Dumbarton.

The new immersive heritage experience and boatbuilding training centre will ensure a permanent home for Skylark IX, which is listed on the National Historic Ships Register and believed to be one of only two ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ from the World War 2 Operation Dynamo surviving in Scotland.

The new Centre will also enable the Trust to help a greater number of people across West Dunbartonshire through boatbuilding, heritage and arts programmes inspired by Skylark and her story.

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

For more information on Clifftop Projects visit

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