Historic HMS Unicorn gets £29k lottery cash ahead of 200th anniversary

Left to right: Bob Irvine (volunteeer), Billy Rush (operations manager) and Andrea Campomanes (learning engagement officer) at HMS Unicorn in City Quay, Dundee
Left to right: Bob Irvine (volunteeer), Billy Rush (operations manager) and Andrea Campomanes (learning engagement officer) at HMS Unicorn in City Quay, Dundee

Historic ship HMS Unicorn has secured a five-figure cash boost ahead of its 200th anniversary.

The Unicorn Preservation Society, which looks after the vessel, has been awarded a National Lottery Resilient Heritage Fund Grant of £28,900 to help it prepare for its bicentenary.

Billy Rough, operations manager on board the Unicorn, said: “This is fantastic news for the society.

“We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will contribute greatly to the important task of promoting awareness of the Unicorn’s unique history and its importance to Dundee and maritime history.

“HMS Unicorn has had a fascinating past and we wish her to have a glorious future.

“Work is progressing steadily on our strategic plan in preparation for Celebrating Unicorn’s 200 years (1824-2024).”

Billy and his team will use the cash to train staff and volunteers in PR, marketing and fundraising to ensure the Unicorn is given the birthday party she deserves.

Specialist training will also be undertaken by the maintenance manager to ensure she remains in tip-top condition.

And part of the money will also be used to relaunch the Friends of Unicorn, a supporters’ group for the iconic ship.

Ríona McMorrow, acting head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland, said: “Resilience allows the heritage sector to build financial independence and flexibility in a changing economic landscape of reduced public funding.

“It provides a tailored package of support that responds to the individual needs of organisations such as the Unicorn Preservation Society so, thanks to National Lottery players, they can not only survive in these challenging financial times, but thrive.”

Built for the Royal Navy at Chatham and launched in 1824, the HMS Unicorn is now the world’s last intact warship from the days of sailing – and one of the six oldest ships on Earth.

She was brought to Dundee in 1873 as a reserve training ship, carrying out this function for almost a century.

The Unicorn Preservation Society was formed in 1968 in order to save the ship from being scrapped – and has worked to preserve its legacy for future generations ever since.

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