It is best-known as the home of two owls from the Harry Potter films, but staff at a north-east animal therapy centre will soon be able to show off the work they do with other creatures.
The Owl and Pussycat Centre, near Maud, has been given £25,000 to develop its work in harnessing the power of animals to boost the wellbeing of humans.
The centre, which has now been given charitable status, specialises in providing animal-assisted therapies to people with additional support needs, such as autism, or mental health issues.
While it has become famous for its work with snowy owl Hedwig and great-horned owl Eral, both who appeared in the Harry Potter films, the extra money will allow staff to focus on giving visitors a feline friend.
The funding, from Social Investment Scotland (SIS), will be used to build an “interactive cat house” with disabled access as well as creating more jobs and volunteering opportunities.
Manager Ruth Hickling said the team at centre were “delighted” with the funding.
The former social worker, who set up the charity in 2010 after going to a birds of prey display and seeing the positive impact they had on children with additional support needs, said: “We’re really excited.
“We’ve just got the first six posts in place to start building the cat house and design it.
“It will house about 20 cats and will be split in two so they can have their own space to get away from people. The front half will be raised and will have picnic benches so young people can learn about cats, interact with them and undergo cat therapy there.”
She said it would take a few months to build, and called on any local businesses or young people to lend a hand, and thanked SIS for “believing” in the organisation’s vision.
She added: “The advice I have received from SIS has been overwhelmingly helpful and the funding will allow us to take great steps in growing the charity and becoming a specialist retreat where people from right across the UK and abroad can come to visit.”
The centre is also home to around 50 cats along with 14 horses, six trained therapy dogs and a total of 35 bird of prey.
Alastair Davis, chief executive of SIS, said: “As a social enterprise, the centre has great potential not only within the local community but also further a field and we will be working closely with Ruth and her team to support them in realising their ambitions for a nationally recognised centre.”