A BOAT which helped hundreds of soldiers survive World War II is continuing its life-saving mission on the River Clyde.

Skylark IX, one of the so-called Dunkirk Little Ships, is using its past to help build a future for those recovering from addiction and is now a symbol of resilience in the community.

Glasgow Times: Some of the boats used to rescue soldiers from Dunkirk.

The addiction recovery project in Dumbarton features in a new podcast, Amazing Starts Here, all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Operation Dynamo was the name given to the evacuation of allied soldiers from the French port of Dunkirk between May 26 and June 4, 1940.

The Imperial War Museum website explains: “The evacuation, sometimes referred to as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was a big boost for British morale.

Glasgow Times: Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Divers attempt to raise the Skylark IX from the River Leven  near Balloch. Pic : Newsquest

“Churchill and his advisers had expected that it would be possible to rescue only 20,000 to 30,000 men, but in all 338,000 troops were rescued from Dunkirk, a third of them French.”

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The Skylark IX survived the war and returned to its roots as a pleasure boat, ferrying holidaymakers around Scotland’s coastlines and islands, until 2010, when it became unsafe. It sank shortly after.

Claire McDade, Project Manager of the Skylark Recovery Trust, said this triggered an “SOS” among local boat clubs and veterans, who began a campaign to save the historic vessel.

She said: “The trust raised more than £400,000 from The National Lottery, to whom we are eternally grateful, to help us rebuild the boat, and then refloat her.”

The boat was salvaged and now plays a key role in helping people with addiction problems in their recovery process.

Crucially, Claire said, the boat’s past told a story about the “recovery of people,” a component the project was keen to retain.

She said: “We have a little banner, Recovery Through Recovery, which is really important for us.

“It’s about using the boat, and her story of heroism and recovery of people’s lives from the beaches of Dunkirk, and inspiring people who are suffering from addictions today in their recovery journey.”

Sadly though, the project soon realised they would not be able to restore the boat to its former glory.

Instead, they decided to build a new recovery centre for skills-building, health and wellbeing, and put the boat on display there “in all her broken beauty.”

Glasgow Times: Skylark IX at Portobello Beach. She also served as a pleasure boat on Loch Lomond.

Claire said: “We’ll show her wounds, and show this is a boat that has lived. And that is so important, because it’s about saying you don’t need to be perfect.”

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Podcast host Amber Rose-Gill said: “The Skylark IX is a symbol of recovery and resilience, inspiring people to make positive changes in their lives.

“She’s helped people make authentic connections, realize their potential, and give them opportunities for a better tomorrow. “

Amber added: “It’s all thanks to National Lottery Players, who raise 30 million pounds a week for good causes like the Skylark IX Recovery Trust.”

Jade West, Community Engagement Lead at the Skylark Recovery Trust, opened up about her own struggles with anxiety and spoke about how she overcame them with the help of the project.

She said: “I really recognise, because I’ve lived it, how important community-based opportunities like this are for people.

“Through the transformative space we’ve created in the workshop, we’re understanding the power of working and learning together. It’s something really special and amazing to be a part of.”

She added: “We also open the doors to the workshop as much as we can and, for some people in the community, this might be the first time they have knowingly interacted in a positive way with someone with an addiction.

“We all hit bumps in the road and, here at the workshop, people can see our volunteer trainees turning their lives around and understand how Skylark IX is a symbol of that journey and that resilience.”