A new exhibition revealing the twisting story of Skylark IX, which is believed to be one of only two ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ from the World War II's Operation Dynamo surviving in Scotland, opens at the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank) in Dumbarton on Saturday 7 May. The exhibition has transferred from SMM's Irvine branch.
‘Hope Floats’, which has been curated by the Skylark IX Recovery Project which cares for Skylark IX, charts Skylark’s story from launching as a pleasure boat in 1934 through her wartime service and final sinking in 2010.
The story culminates with her new role inspiring and changing the lives of people recovering from addictions across West Dunbartonshire.
The exhibition also celebrates the achievements of the Skylark IX Recovery Project over the last two years made possible by a National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) award in 2018.
The NLHF award has enabled the Dumbarton-based Skylark IX Recovery Project to plan vital work to help stabilise Skylark’s condition and deliver boatbuilding training for Alternatives Community-based Recovery Service and Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol clients. The Project also delivers therapeutic arts and heritage projects for people across the community.
Visitors will be able to see Hope Floats and the rest of the Scottish Maritime Museum for free during the Skylark IX Recovery Project’s Skylark Stories summer event taking place in the Denny Tank grounds on Saturday 4 June.
Claire McDade, Project Manager at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, says:
“The Skylark IX Recovery Project was formed out of hope and a belief in the possibility of change and recovery. Skylark took part in Operation Dynamo and, today, our indomitable Dunkirk 'Little Ship' is once again a beacon of hope and inspiration for those on their own journey of recovery and those in need within our communities.
“With lots of exciting new projects in 2022, including our new oral history project Skylark IX Voices and our Skylark IX Community Tapestry, we hope the exhibition brings many more people to enjoy and get involved with Skylark and her wonderful stories.”
Visitors to Hope Floats can also see the Skylark IX Lockdown Community Patchwork Quilt which remembers Skylark's role in times of war and peace and celebrates hope. The quilt was created by 50 people across West Dunbartonshire connecting with the Project during the first Lockdown.
The exhibition also features an Echo Bay Dory model skiff. The 50cm long rowing boat was crafted by a Skylark Volunteer Trainee when the Skylark IX Boatbuilding Workshop at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton had to close during both Lockdowns and training moved onto Zoom.
The Hope Floats exhibition also recognises the many Skylark IX supporters who fundraised tirelessly in the early years and support from West Dunbartonshire Council and The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Skylark IX is currently in the care of the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine whilst the Skylark IX Recovery Project shapes plans for her future at the heart of the Spirit of Skylark Centre.
Funding allowing, this proposed £3m heritage attraction, community hub and boatbuilding workshop will be located at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s second site in Dumbarton and enable the Project to reach and support more people across West Dunbartonshire.
Hope Floats is included in Museum Admission. Up to three children go FREE with each Adult/Concession ticket.