Organisers of one of the north-east’s top Hogmanay celebrations have been forced to look for last-minute first aid cover – after the British Red Cross pulled out.
Thousands of people flock to Stonehaven for the renowned fireballs procession every year, and images of the spectacle are beamed across the globe.
Preparations are well underway – but Stonehaven Fireballs Association have revealed they were left fearing for the event after the British Red Cross announced last week it would not be able to provide cover.
The charity contacted chairwoman Susan Leiper and told her they had been unable to find enough volunteers to cover the event – despite being booked since January.
The group was ready to launch an appeal for qualified first aiders in the north-east to help, but now a Brechin-based business has stepped in at the 11th hour.
Ms Leiper said: “They’ve really saved our bacon. If they hadn’t been able to help we would have had to appeal for people with valid first aid certificates to come and help. It’s much better to have a company come in and do the job from start to finish, it’s fantastic for us.”
Ms Leiper said she had booked the British Red Cross in January, after they provided cover at last year’s procession.
“It was all going so well until I got that call,” she said.
“The girl said they’ve just not been able to get the volunteers.
“We were really let down.”
The Scottish Ambulance Service will be in attendance, but are there for emergency cover only – meaning the association needs to have its own first aid team in place too.
Ms Leiper added: “We’re absolutely delighted. It’s a big weight off our minds. At this late in the day it’s good of them to help us out.”
Last night a spokesman for the British Red Cross said: “We can only apologise sincerely to the organisers of the Stonehaven event.
“We made exhaustive efforts to find volunteers – not just locally but also from further afield in Scotland – who were available to provide cover on Hogmanay.
“It is very rare for us to find ourselves in this regrettable solution.”