A SPECIAL plan to ship people to Millport's Country Music Festival has been sunk after it was announced the Waverley's future is under threat.

A fundraising drive is to be launched to save the paddle steamer after it was pulled from service for the while of its summer season, the first time in 45 years the sailings have been axed.

Cllr Alex Gallagher says it is a 'crying shame' the world's oldest paddle steamer will not be sailing down the Clyde as it brings many holidaymakers to Largs and Millport.

He added: "The withdrawal of Waverley will be felt by the many coastal communities she visits on her annual programme.

"We know that the Waverley is an old ship and requires a lot of care and maintenance but it is a bit late in the day for this year's schedule to be cancelled, especially given everyone was expecting it to go ahead.

"I do hope that the Waverley gets the support from the public that it needs.

"Everything that creates access to the town is good for tourism and the accumulation of all the visits each year and the people it brings to the town is going to be much missed.

"It is not good for tourism and I hope the matter can be solved for next year."

It is also a bodyblow for this year's Millport Country Music Festival as organisers had tied up a special link-up for the first time with the vessel.

Event organiser Gavin Chittick said: "This is really sad news and we have reached out to the management of the Waverley to see how we can be of assistance to each other.

"It would have been a particularly fun way for people to come from Glasgow and Greenock to the festival on Sunday.

"Now we have to try and figure out other ways for people to get here."

Waverley excursions general manager Paul Semple said: "The whole Waverley team is deeply disappointed that we are unable to repair the ship’s boilers and operate this season despite every effort being made to overcome the challenges presented."

The charity which owns Waverley will shortly launch an appeal to save the ship and ensure she sails again.

The withdrawal of Waverley will be felt by the many coastal communities she visits on her annual programme.

A recent Economic Impact Survey concluded that Waverley contributes over £5.6 million to the UK economy an equivalent of 136 jobs per annum.

Donations can be made now by visiting waverleyexcursions.co.uk or calling 0141 243 2224 or by texting STEAM followed by your chosen amount £10 or £20 to 70085.