Douglas McGowan MBE

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Douglas McGowan MBE

Warmest congratulations to Paddle Steamer Preservation Society Vice President Douglas McGowan on the award of an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List ‘for services to PS Waverley and to charity.’

With characteristic modesty Douglas himself commented ‘It goes without saying that this award is not just for me; it is for the small dedicated team who worked so hard to make it happen back in 1974.’ There can however be little doubt that without Douglas Waverley would not have sailed the coasts of Britain these last 41 years, a living museum of the age of the steam ship giving pleasure to hundreds of thousands. He initiated and played a huge role in sustaining the operational preservation of this commercially unviable paddle steamer: an achievement much more extraordinary than most folk can possibly realise.

Douglas buying ‘a paddler for a pound’ in 1974. In the group are (from the left) Terry Sylvester and Douglas McGowan of Waverley Steam Navigation and PSPS, Sir Patrick Thomas, Chairman, Scottish Transport Group and John Whittle, General Manager of Caledonian-MacBrayne.|PSPS Collection

Whether as a founding director of Waverley Steam Navigation, the company established by PSPS to own the ship when Caledonian Macbrayne offered her to the Society or Chairman of Waverley Excursions, her operating company, or simply acting quietly behind the scenes, his wisdom, dedication and capacity for sheer hard work have countless times ensured success where failure seemed inevitable. He has also found time to provide effective leadership and guidance to PSPS itself at various times as Chairman, National Vice President and Honorary President of the Scottish Branch, which he founded.

Somehow he managed to combine these steamer activities with a full time career in the confectionery industry where, glutton for punishment, he was also a volunteer for many years with the Confectioners Benevolent Fund becoming President in 2000 and raising £1m for that charity with the support of many companies and individuals.

Jean McGowan, his wife of over 40 years, not only allowed him to indulge his passions but has actively supported him right from the beginning, so the MBE recognises not simply the contribution of one person but a life-long partnership.

Very best wishes to Douglas and Jean: a richly deserved recognition.

[signature name=”Iain Dewar” role=”Chairman, Paddle Steamer Preservation Society”]

Further information:

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) This is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community. An MBE is also awarded for local ‘hands-on’ service which stands out as an example to other people.