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Historic treasures across Scotland get much-needed TLC thanks to “staggering” donation

Fyvie Castle.
Fyvie Castle.

More than half a million pounds donated at a glittering ball has allowed some of the north and north-east’s most treasured possessions to be restored to their full glory.

A “staggering” £510,000 was raised at the National Trust’s President’s Ball last year at Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire, which was attended by businesses, local dignitaries and long-time supporters.

Today, the conservation charity revealed what the funds have supported as a result, from vital renovations at Drum Castle to the creation of a new visitor centre at Iona.

Last night, National Trust President, The Earl of Lindsay, said he was so grateful for the support from all who attended.

It was the first time the ball had been held in the north-east of Scotland, and the charity hailed it the most successful so far.

The Earl said caring for Scotland’s heritage was an expensive business, and that the generous donations had allowed the Trust to take forward many projects that might not have been possible otherwise.

“Thanks to the generosity of so many people in the lead up and on the night, we raised a staggering £510,000,” he said.

“This amount has made a huge difference to the Trust and it has enabled many diverse and wide ranging projects to move forwards or, in some cases, actually to happen at all.

“I would like to thank everyone involved – whether as organisers, performers, attendees or donors. The Trust is truly grateful for this remarkable contribution.”

Drum Castle at Drumoak was awarded £15,000 to renovate its Brew House flat, after it suffered “catastrophic damage” when a header tank froze in 2009.

The charity was able to install new walls, ceilings and electrics, which means people can now stay there.

Alison Burke, property manager, said: “It is through the generous support of the President’s Ball that the building has been properly restored and is once again a functioning part of Drum, helping to raise much needed income to ensure the financial sustainability of the property into the future.”

Around £50,000 was also granted to the castle to create a “museum standard exhibition space” to display pieces from Aberdeen Art Gallery while it undergoes a major refurbishment.

Craigievar Castle at Alford was donated £8,000 to open up access to its Viewing Platform, which has been closed for 20 years.

At Devil’s Elbow at Inverewe in the Highlands, £15,000 was granted to create a bespoke timber visitor shelter that will provide greater views across the garden and sea.

And at Glenfinnan, £10,000 was donated to create a footpath leading to a vantage point behind the visitor centre.

It will give “uninterrupted views” of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a favourite of Harry Potter fans.

At Iona, £33,000 has been donated to repair the old fire station at Baile Mor and create a shelter and information point, which will include seating for 40 people.

The Trust said that despite the island welcoming more than 120,000 visitors every year, there are currently few facilities.

“This will benefit visitors and the local residents. Work is scheduled to begin in May 2015,” the Trust said.

At Fyvie Castle in the north-east, £20,000 has been granted to repair and conserve the American Gate and the Lakeside Gate, two important features of the estate.

Around £40,000 was also been granted to refurbish the kitchen and three bathrooms at Preston Tower, which is used for holiday lets.

At Haddo House, near Tarves in Aberdeenshire, £15,000 was granted to repair the historic ‘drugget’, one of the largest chenille carpets in the world.

Situated in the library, one of the main events spaces, the fragile carpet had become worn and stained.

“An exact digital copy of the carpet will be printed onto a waterproof material,” the Trust said.

“The finished product will allow visitors to see the room as it would have looked with the original carpet in place.”

Meanwhile at Castle Fraser, where the ball was held, £30,000 was donated to conserve the Caithness flagstone floor in the medieval Laigh Hall.

“It’s enabled us to bring the room back to its original elegance,” the castle’s management team said.

“The prestigious President’s Ball, which has assisted so many wonderful projects in the Trust, was an absolute delight to host.”