Community groups join forces to support families affected by Ballater blaze

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Members of the Ballater community have joined forces to raise money to support the families and businesses affected by the recent fire.

Ballater & Crathie Community Council has teamed up with the Ballater Business Association (BBA) and Cllr Geva Blackett to raise at least £8000 as short-term help for people affected by the blaze at the Old Royal Station, which broke out in the early hours of Tuesday, May 12.

Cllr Blackett said: “Our aim is to help the businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible. BBA and members of the Community Council are fully supportive of this project. The rebuilding will be expensive; after discussions with Aberdeenshire Council, it has been agreed that any money raised through this appeal but not spent will go towards the restoration of the building.”

Richard Watts, Chair of BBA said: “There are other means of support but they may take time to deliver. That’s why we need at least £8000, preferably more, to provide emergency funding to help the businesses that have been damaged and their families. This may help the businesses affected to secure alternative premises; help cover delays in insurance payouts; to purchase new equipment or just help to keep the businesses afloat, as their future is still unclear and in the balance. ”

The Aberdeenshire Council owned building was home to three businesses including a restaurant, a photographer and VisitScotland’s Visitor Information Centre, which has been temporarily rehoused in the nearby CNPA offices.

Photographer Amy Muir, who was left devastated after her studio was destroyed in the fire, announced some progress with the shop this week.

Posting on Facebook, Amy said: “Two lovely gents from Bancon Contractors were able to get in and pull out nearly all my customers orders of slides, photos and vhs’, which I had told them had all been lost.

“I am beyond happy that the orders survived and are still in one piece. They endured a fire, the pressure of the hose and eight days of rain! I’d lost all hope.

“I am so overwhelmed by all the emotions from the past nin days and just in still in complete disbelief of the fire and the recovery.”

Chair of Ballater & Crathie Community Council Billy Duguid said: “The fire has destroyed the centerpiece of the village and since rebuilding will take some time, this will clearly have a knock on effect for our tourist industry in Upper Deeside. In this remote community, each business supports jobs and each job is vital to the economic stability of the village. We need to help keep the businesses trading and ensure their survival.”

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Photograph by Nicol Rosie.