Backers of a campaign to help conserve the historic ship RRS Discovery gathered in Dundee on Wednesday to celebrate surpassing their £40,000 fundraising goal.
And as the pledges kept rolling in right up until the Wednesday lunchtime deadline, surpassing the goal by almost £2000, it was all supporters on deck – and on the quayside at Discovery Point where the famous Antarctic exploration ship is docked.
The five-week crowdfunding campaign, which hit its target a day early, spread worldwide and gained the backing of everyone from schoolchildren to global businesses, a newborn baby to a television celebrity. Despite a nailbiting last few days, in the end more than 250 backers came together to pledge money.
Dundee Heritage Trust launched the campaign to raise £40,000 five weeks ago on crowdfunder.co.uk to pay for vital restoration and preservation work to the masts and rigging of RRS Discovery, which famously took Captain Robert Falcon Scott and crew to the Antarctic for a voyage of scientific exploration.
In a bold move, the Trust made a call out to the public to contribute towards a nine-month cleaning and repair project to the rigging and masts which will cost £350,000 in total. During a painstaking three-week process in which passers-by witnessed the ship gradually being deconstructed, the masts and rigging were removed and have been sent to a specialist shipbuilders in Gloucester for repair.
Dundee Heritage Trust received pledges big and small, from individuals, businesses and heritage groups both locally and worldwide. Backing came from everyone from a newborn baby and pupils at a Dundee primary school, to TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, a patron of Dundee Heritage Trust.
Paul Jennings, executive director of Dundee Heritage Trust, acknowledged that putting Discovery’s fate in the hands of the public was risky. But he said he was always sure of the support of the iconic ship, which returned to Dundee – the city where it was built – in 1986.
Paul Jennings said:
“On behalf of Dundee Heritage Trust I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who pledged money, both in Dundee and further afield. The support we’ve had has been amazing and the fact that we hit it early and that pledges are still coming in is fantastic. Not only does it enable us to carry out this important restoration work on the ship, but it proves how dear RRS Discovery is to people, particularly in her home city.”
Andy Lothian, chairman of Dundee Heritage Trust and chief executive of Insights, headquartered in Dundee, said:
“This rigging project is crucial to the ongoing conservation and preservation of this incredible ship and simply couldn’t be borne out of existing budgets. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has supported it – and helped us smash our target. I feel strongly that RRS Discovery is one of our national treasures, and the impressive amount of backing this campaign has received clearly demonstrates that many others share my view.”
For Lorraine Kelly, who fronted the crowdfunding campaign five weeks ago with a video appeal, reaching the goal was a double celebration. The TV presenter celebrated her birthday on Wednesday. She said:
“It’s been so gratifying to see people get behind this campaign to help preserve one of the country’s, and in particular Dundee’s, most important visitor attractions. It was a pleasure to front this crowdfunding effort and to see the public and businesses really step up to help. A huge thanks to everyone involved.”
Although the crowdfunding campaign has now closed, Dundee Heritage Trust still welcomes contributions towards the overall cost of the £350,000 rigging project. Anyone wishing to support it should contact Brian Kelly, development officer for Dundee Heritage Trust, or Paul Jennings, executive director for Dundee Heritage Trust. Email Brian on firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul on email@example.com or call 01382 309060.
For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com