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Take the “Voyage of a Lifetime”

30 Jul 2015

Take the “Voyage of a Lifetime” Image

A major fundraising event will be held in Docklands this month in the hope of boosting funds for the continued restoration of historic topsail schooner, the Alma Doepel.

The “Voyage of a Lifetime” Gala Luncheon at Etihad Stadium on August 28 is set to be a distinguished event.

Organised by the Alma’s owner Sail and Adventure, with the support of the Docklands Chamber of Commerce, it’s hoped the luncheon will raise $50,000 for the restoration project.

Channel 9’s Peter Hitchener will MC the event, which will also include a fundraising auction featuring a range of unique items.

Auction items include a cruise on the restored Kookaburra yacht, sitting with the driver on the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry and a restored chest of drawers made by a company founded in the UK in 1903 – the same year the Alma was built.

Sail and Adventure director Sally Shepherdson said: ”We’d like to raise $50,000 from the luncheon but we also hope that by getting the message out there on the day we do have additional private benefactors and corporate sponsors emerge.”

According to Sail and Adventure and restoration director Peter Harris, a figure of $50,000 would provide the security needed to book professional shipwrights.

“We‘re preparing things to go back on the ship but we don’t do the rebuilding part because that needs to be done to a professional and heritage approved standard,” Mr Harris said.

With at least $1.7 million needed to complete the restoration, there’s plenty more fundraising still to be done.

The organisation is currently receiving donations totalling around $5000 each month, but Mr Harris says the target was closer to $100,000 per month.

“Even if we were raising $100,000 a year, it would still take 17 years,” Mr Harris said.

“That’s a sobering message for us to bear in mind. We have to raise the scale of the fundraising from the passers by and enthusiasts to find the people who care enough about this to make it happen.”

And with the ship exposed to the elements, the longer it takes to raise funds to complete the restoration, the more it will cost, due to continued deterioration.

Apart from funding pressure, time is ticking away, with the Alma Doepel’s future at Shed 2 uncertain.

The ship has been undergoing restoration at Shed 2 since 2009, but time is running out, with Lend Lease currently firming up its plans for its Collins Wharf development.

“They’ve got an eight-year plan to complete this wharf, but we don’t know when they will want this shed,” Mr Harris said.

“What keeps me awake at night is knowing we have a facility that is effectively being underutilised because we can’t pay professional shipwrights to be here.”

“We really need a team of six to eight people five days a week, with volunteers on three of those days to back them up.”

According to Mr Harris, if the organisation had $1.7 million in the bank now, the restoration project could be finished in two years.

And, as Ms Shepherdson points out, the sooner Alma is back in the water, the sooner she can be used for youth development programs.

“Even assuming we can actually get the restoration completed before the developer wants this land, the longer she is out of the water and not being used as a youth sail training vessel, we’re not able to deliver as many youth programs,” Ms Shepherdson said.

“When you look at the issues with youth in Victoria and other parts of the world, imagine if we could be having an impact on their lives now.”

Mr Harris encouraged anyone interested to purchase tickets to the Gala Luncheon and learn more about the Alma Doepel and the significant contribution she will make to Docklands.

“It’s not only about the money on the day, which is of course very important, but it’s also about meeting people and raising our profile and letting people know what we bring to Docklands,” Mr Harris said.

“We’re not expecting to get anything for nothing. We’re expecting to deliver on being a community asset for Docklands,” he said.

“There’s a community out there, the community is growing and people are looking for things that will make Docklands work.”

“Of all the things that are being looked at, we are at the lower end of the price range,” Mr Harris said. “So I would argue that we are very good value.”

The Voyage of a Lifetime Gala Luncheon will be held at Etihad Stadium on August 28 from 12 – 2 pm.

Individual tickets are available for $220 and you can purchase a table of 10 for $2000.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=133850

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