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Prince Charles donates significant sum to aid Royal Deeside Railway volunteers

Prince Charles supports the body
Prince Charles supports the body

The Duke of Rothesay has come to the aid of a volunteer team restoring the historic railway the royal family once used on trips to the Balmoral Estate.

Prince Charles has donated a significant sum of money to fund the restoration of a 1950s carriage on the Deeside line after it was destroyed by vandals last month.

The line was in use from 1853 until 1966 and the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society is aiming to restore it between Ballater and Crathes.

The duke is understood to have read about the destruction of the group’s newly-purchased British Rail coach at West Lodge Yard, near Milton of Crathes, in the Press and Journal.

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He is currently enjoying his annual stay at the Balmoral Estate and has made the donation through the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

Vandals smashed the carriage’s double-glazed windows with bricks and stones and ruined a nearby locomotive engine, with the damage estimated at £10,000.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said: “The Duke of Rothesay was disappointed to learn of the damage done by vandals to the historic carriage and train engine.

“His Royal Highness was keen to help and to show his support to the work done by these wonderful volunteers.

“He has therefore arranged for The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation to make a donation towards repairing the carriage and engine.”

Secretary of the rail society, Bill Halliday, said: “We are greatly honoured. It was a bit out of the blue. He had obviously seen it in the paper.

“The initial call came I think the day after it was in the Press and Journal.

“He was obviously concerned about the damage. I know he is really interested in heritage and community issues.

“Within a few days I was notified he was minded to make a contribution then last week we received it.

“It was a shock but a nice shock to have his interest.

“I think out of this bad event tremendous good has come, the amount of support we have had shows the local community as well as people further afield appreciate what we are trying to do at the railway and the value of it from a railway point of view.”

Police believe three teenage boys may have been responsible for the vandalism

A spokesman said their inquiries into the incident were “ongoing”.

CCTV now installed along railway as support grows for railway group

Since the vandals struck, the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society has had CCTV cameras donated from Aberdeen-based Revolutionary IT, and a glass firm in the city has agreed to replace the carriage windows.

Police Scotland sgt Julie Stephen with Bill Halliday of the Royal Deeside railway team
Police Scotland sgt Julie Stephen with Bill Halliday of the Royal Deeside railway team

Children from Crathes and Crossroads nurseries are taking to the Deeside Way with their teachers for a sponsored “toddle” to raise money for the group on September 16.

Bill Halliday said: “We have been very well supported.”

However, he added there was still a lot of manual labour to be done by volunteers to fix the carriage in time for next summer.

The group initially hoped to have it up and running at the Milton of Crathes railway station by Christmas to form part of its weekend runs, allowing more visitors to enjoy train journeys.

He added any money left from the carriage restoration appeal would go towards the society’s main objective of restoring the line as far as Balla-ter.

So far the volunteers have rebuilt the line for one mile between Crathes and Banchory.

The carriage repair appeal can be found at www.deeside-railway.co.uk.

The group is also seeking volunteers to join its crew of 50, and people can get involved by contacting billhalliday32@btinternet.com or by visiting the Milton of Crathes station.

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