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The Independent Online
The paddle steamer Waverley, sailing from Tower Bridge, London, having just begun her 1994 cruising season last month. Built in 1947, the boat is the world's last sea-going paddle steamer and was sold for pounds 1 in 1973 by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company (now Caledonian MacBrayne) to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

Founded in 1959, the society is appealing for pounds 130,000 - of an overall total of pounds 350,000 - to bring its three ships, the paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle and a motor cruise ship, Balmoral, up to the standard of new regulations introduced by the Department of Transport. The work involves upgrading life-saving appliances, re-arranging passenger accommodation to provide more emergency escapes and equipping each ship with secondary bilge-pumping systems, additions to those already in place.

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society was formed when the demand for coastal paddle steamers, once an essential part of holidays by the seaside, was dwindling. Before the First World War 50 paddle steamers worked on the Firth of Clyde, but by the end of the 1960s there were only three. At first, the society encouraged the owners of the last paddle steamers to keep them in service, but eventually they bought and operated their own. The first, the Kingswear Castle, which carries up to 235 passengers, was bought in 1967 and is now based at Chatham Historic Dockyard, on the Medway.

The Waverley, which carries up to 950 people and is based on the Clyde, offers day excursions until mid- October each year. She has a top speed of 18 knots produced by a three-cylinder steam engine with a stroke of 5ft 6in, which can be viewed by the public. During the season she moves around the British coast: this weekend she is in the River Solent for the D-Day 50th anniversary. For further information, contact: The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, 35 Cromwell Road, Southampton SO15 2JE, telephone 0446 720656.

The Association for Post-Natal Illness, which formed in 1979, raises awareness about post-natal depression amongst the medical profession and the general public so that prompt diagnosis, support and understanding can reduce the illness's sometimes devastating effects. It organises a nationwide network of volunteers, all past sufferers of post-natal depression, to support women going through this frightening experience. The association maintains that although post-natal depression is now more widely understood it is still largely unrecognised, with three-quarters of sufferers remaining silent, feeling isolated and hopeless, unaware that their condition can be treated and that support is available. It is thought that about 10 per cent of recently delivered mothers develop post-natal depression: the symptoms can include feelings of increasing despondency and hopelessness, anxiety, panic and tension, as well as obsessional thoughts, poor concentration and sleeping difficulties.

The Association for Post-Natal Illness, 25 Jerdan Place, Fulham, London SW6 1BE, telephone 071-386 0868.

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