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Duke of Rothesay praises dedication of team who rescued historic sail loft from flash flood

Princes Charles praised the dedication of a staff at a new Banffshire bunkhouse who worked tirelessly to rescue the historic site from flooding last week.

The Duke of Rothesay visited the fishing village of Portsoy to officially open the Sail Loft bunkhouse, which was restored from derelict cottages at the waterfront.

Now a modern hostel with accommodation for 25 guests, the Sail Loft was battered by a flash flood last week which washed away the access bridge and threatened to postpone the prince’s visit.

Portsoy continues to recover following floods

But the future king quickly offered his assurance he would keep his appointment and the team behind the project hastily built a wooden footbridge to give the guest of honour access to the site.

After meeting local dignitaries including Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson and council chief executive Jim Savege, Charles was given a tour of the building by Banffshire tourism expert and co-chairman of the Portsoy Community Enterprise Roger Goodyear.

Schoolchildren from the nearby Portsoy Primary came out to wave flags and cheer the duke as he made his way around the site.

Unveiling a specially-designed plaque commemorating his visit, the Duke of Rothesay said: “I would like to add my warmest congratulations to the team who worked to make this project come to fruition despite all the challenges.”

He praised those who volunteered to help preserve the historic building, adding: “I pray you are able to continue to work for many years to come – floods or no floods.”

Mr Goodyear said: “It is terrific – we so much appreciate that he didn’t pull out of coming despite the state of play. We had a very early message to say he was still coming.

“To explain how high the waters were, the bridge has never been hit like this ever before and the water reached the windows of the bunkhouse.

“The effort put in by everyone was fantastic, not just the staff but the local community.

“Prince Charles was very impressed. He is very knowledgeable about restorations so we had to be on the ball. We’re delighted.”

Among the invited guests yesterday was David Dean, the former chairman of Scottish Independent Hostels who advised Mr Goodyear and his team during the restoration.

Mr Dean said: “It’s amazing that a hostel should get a visit from the prince. It’s partly the building and that it was a preservation project. They’ve done a wonderful job.”

The Sail Loft will now form part of Portsoy’s annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, an event which lures thousands of tourists to the tiny village.

The bunkhouse will be used as a base during festivities and provide accommodation to visitors. The land around the Sail Loft was due to be used as parking however the historic road bridge was washed away by flood waters and Mr Goodyear and his team are now rethinking the plan.

The boat festival takes place on June 24 and 25.