A PETITION bearing 8,500 names will on Saturday be passed to Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox calling for help in keeping the historic sailing schooner Kathleen and May in Bideford. Mr Cox will take the petition to the Secretary of State. The 108-y

A PETITION bearing 8,500 names will on Saturday be passed to Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox calling for help in keeping the historic sailing schooner Kathleen and May in Bideford.Mr Cox will take the petition to the Secretary of State.The 108-year-old three masted schooner is the last of her type remaining and has been included among Britain's core collection of historic ships.Unlike other "core ships" such as the Victory and the Cutty Sark, she is not funded by the Government, but is privately owned.Local businessman Steve Clarke found her in a sorry state and brought her to Bideford in 1998 before having the vessel completely renovated.His dream has always been to have her permanently sited in Bideford as an attraction for the town, but attempts to find funding for this project, which would include the building of a wet and dry dock on the quayside, have so far foundered.He has, reluctantly, been forced to put her on the market and said this week that inquiries had been received from Maine in the United States and from Southern Ireland.But the Friends of the Kathleen and May support group hope their petition will persuade the Government to help keep the vessel permanently in Bideford.