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Funding boost for Alma

03 Sep 2015

Funding boost for Alma Image

More than $60,000 was raised for the restoration of the Alma Doepel last month.

Of this figure, $40,000 was raised by the inaugural “Voyage of a Lifetime” Gala Luncheon, held at the Medallion Room through the support of Etihad Stadium, on August 28.

Peter Hitchener hosted the event, which was attended by some 160 people and considered a great success by the luncheon organisers.

The 110-year old topsail schooner is currently being restored at Shed 2 in Docklands and around $1.7 million is needed to complete the project.

Speaking at the luncheon, Matt McDonald, who participated in a youth sail training voyage on the Alma as an adolescent, highlighted the importance of the ship to young people.

Mr McDonald, who is today one of the directors of Sail & Adventure, the company that owns the Alma Doepel, shared his experience as a 14-year-old on board the ship.

He spoke of  “success stories of this school with no teachers, no classrooms and no blackboards”.

After his first training sail Mr McDonald said he was back two weeks later volunteering as crew, and over the next four years completed nine voyages.

Mr McDonald said after the Alma stopped sailing when he was 17 he searched for similar experiences, from working on other ships and boats, studying marine biology and working in outdoor education, but has never found anything to match the experience of youth sail training on a tall ship.

“Tall ship sailing is unmatched in its abilities to achieve outcomes with young people,” Mr McDonald said.

“Building resilience, leadership, teamwork and communication skills, while boosting confidence and enabling young people to reach their own goals and ambitions.”

“Outcomes that help combat youth suicide, depression, drug use and enable young people to realise their own potential as
a person.”

Mr McDonald said, while the Alma didn’t look too good currently, her history and stories were overwhelming.

“This project is about creating the future stories for these timbers, the stories of the young people of tomorrow, the lives saved and changed, careers forged and the dreams ignited,” he said.

“Today we create another story, a story of how a grand old ship was rebuilt using traditional methods in the middle of one of the world’s most modern cities,” Mr McDonald said.

Sail & Adventure chairman Alan Edenborough also spoke at the lunch and said the Alma Doepel represented a tangible link with the history and heritage of Melbourne and Docklands.

“We look back, with nostalgia, at the old pictures of Melbourne and Docklands as it was. You’ve all seen them,” he said.

“What remains of what stood where we are today?” Mr Edenborough asked. “The answer is not much.”

Mr Edenborough said the Alma was something the world, and Melbourne, could not afford to lose.

A further $1.7 million is needed to fund the $3 million restoration of the ship, with $800,000 required to get the Alma replanked, off her barge and back in the water.

Mr Edenborough said next year marked the 100th anniversary of the Alma Doepel’s first arrival in Melbourne and it was hoped the ship would be back in the water to mark the occasion.

“With your help we could have the hull replanked and the ship back in the water by the July 2016 anniversary date,” Mr Edenborough said.

Other speakers who were united in their support for the restoration project included Minister for Ports Luke Donnellan and Sail & Adventure director Sally Shepherdson.

The total fundraising tally for August is $66,000:
“Voyage of a Lifetime” fundraising luncheon: $40,000
ADSC: $500
Bendigo Bank plank donation: $500
Mr Nigel Peck AM: $20,000

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