A bid for £3.6million of Heritage Lottery Funding is being made to help make dreams of a new cruise vessel in Bideford become a reality.The SS Freshspring Society is working with charity Wings South West to refurbish the 120ft ex-Royal Navy Auxiliary water tanker and bring her to Bideford. Society chairman John Puddy said the plan was to bid for funding to restore the last sea-going small coastal steamer and to offer cruise holidays for up to 12 passengers. John said: The aims of the trust are to support maritime education, inspiring young people to engage in careers in engineering and within the maritime sector. Negotiations with Torridge District Council have been successful and the council has assured the trust that a long-term berth will be available for the ship in the port of Bideford. This commitment from Torridge means that the trust is able to approach the Heritage Lottery Fund for major funding both to restore the ship and to fulfil the trusts educational objectives. Yesterday (Wednesday) the charitys patron, Earl Attlee, visited members of the society in Bideford to discuss the project with councillors and other relevant people. SS Freshspring is recognised as being of national historical significance on the National Register of Historic Vessels. She was first launched on August 15, 1946, and after trials in February 1947, she sailed to her long term base in Malta. She returned to the UK in 1967, and was put into reserve in 1976. In 1979 she was sold to a private owner in Bristol where she was last steamed. She is currently based at Newnham on Severn. Would you like to see SS Freshspring come to Bideford? Write to our Opinion pages using the address on page six.