The world's last passenger-carrying paddle steamer, the Waverley, will triumphantly return to Clacton.

As part of its 75th-anniversary programme, the iconic vessel will grace Clacton Pier, led by a distinguished patron.

Sir Tim Laurence, the husband of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, has accepted an invitation to become patron for the charity which owns the historic Paddle Steamer Waverley.

Sir Tim recently enjoyed a visit to Waverley where he met crew members and Trustees of the Waverley Steam Navigation Co, which took ownership of the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer after she was gifted for £1 back in 1974.

Gazette: Sir Tim at the control levers in Waverley's engine roomSir Tim at the control levers in Waverley's engine room (Image: Waverley Excursions)

Sir Tim Laurence, a former Royal Navy officer and passionate yachtsman, has a strong interest in maritime heritage and transportation.

He chaired English Heritage from 2015 to 2022 and serves as president of the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway Trust.

With a deep connection to the waters of western Scotland, Sir Tim's diverse background reflects his commitment to the maritime and heritage sectors.

Sir Tim said: “I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Waverley and learning what it takes to keep her sailing.

“Those who work hard to preserve and operate her deserve my support as Waverley is a unique vessel of exceptional importance.

“Not only does she illustrate and provide access to the engineering and maritime heritage of the Clyde and of Britain, but she provides the experience of going to sea under steam, with all the excitement, the sights, sounds and smells that involves.

Gazette: Sir Timothy Laurence visited Waverley recently to meet the ship's crewSir Timothy Laurence visited Waverley recently to meet the ship's crew (Image: Waverley Excursions)

“This ship is preserving heritage skills and social history as well as the fabric of the ship herself.

"I am very pleased to be able to help in the vital task of keeping her sailing for many years to come. She truly is a sight to behold.”

Temporary withdrawal in 2019 for boiler replacements, requiring £2.3 million, led to delays due to the pandemic and staffing issues.

Nevertheless, a successful appeal has ensured the highly anticipated comeback of the Waverley.

Waverley is planning to offer cruises from Thames locations including Clacton Pier from September 23 to October 9.

Details of cruises and fares will soon be available from Waverley Excursions.