SUMMER will be here soon, ha-ha, and with it will come the welcome thud-thud-thud of a certain vessel’s paddles churning down the Clyde.

The Waverley is always a thrilling sight on the river, but she might have been consigned to the scrapheap long ago had it not been for the valiant efforts of Douglas McGowan.

He has now been deservedly rewarded with the MBE for his many years of tireless work to keep the ship afloat.

The honours system is often discredited by sickening patronage, however.

Witness, for example, former Prime Minister David Cameron’s outrageous resignation honours list, which showered knighthoods and other gongs on no less than 48 aides, allies and donors, and was condemned across the political divide.

The New Year Honours have gone some way to redressing the balance by recognising people like Douglas who have gone the extra mile for a good cause because it was something in which they believed passionately.

Like many steamer enthusiasts, Douglas’s love of these memorable boats started with holidays on the Clyde Coast, where there was a veritable flotilla until people were lured away by cheap flights to Spain.

He launched the Scottish branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, and worked closely with CalMac on promoting the Waverley. She was ‘sold’ for £1 to the Society in 1974 and, amazingly, returned to service only a year later.

So, thanks to Douglas and his colleagues, we can still enjoy a bracing sail doon the watter!