The Danish billionaire who lost three of his four children in the Sri Lankan bombing is to help fund a new health base for remote communities in Sutherland.
Anders Holch Povlsen’s company Wildland Ltd is in discussions about securing Church of Scotland land at Tongue and is prepared to provide additional money to realise the scheme – above that already committed by NHS Highland and Highland Council.
Through Wildland, Mr Povlsen owns 13 estates in Scotland, including Eriboll and Polla, Braegill and Hope, Gaick and Ben Loyal.
Recently Wildland gave an interest-free, six-figure loan to local charity The Assynt Foundation, responsible for the 44,000-acre Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, which had been struggling financially.
Now it is aiming to help solve a rural health crisis in the Far North.
Mr Povlsen’s company last week attended a private meeting in Bettyhill with community and NHS representatives to help find a solution to realising the long running health hub scheme in Tongue, prompted by the re-design of health and adult social care services across Sutherland’s north coast.
Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wildland, said:”If it’s the right development, in the right place, we will support it and help with the additional funding. It is not a Wildland development, but we may be able to help make something everybody can be proud of for the longer term.
“There is a potential for a win, win, win for everybody in including the council, the NHS and most importantly the community.
“We have made an approach to the CoS and I think they are supportive, though it’s early days. There are no red lights at this stage.”
Mr Kirkwood said the new base – which could now include a medical centre as well as the nursing and care home – would be greater than that first envisaged in the original scheme.
“Wildland are willing to help with that and augment the budget to make this development an exemplar and best possible for the area. There are no solid figures yet,” he added.
Highland Council officials have already been warned that there will be outrage along the north coast if the long awaited proposal for the original £1.6 million health hub at Tongue is dropped from the authority’s capital plan.
Councillors are due to decide their five-year spending priorities shortly and concern is mounting the project may be shelved as it battles to keep within budget.
The discussions with Wildland began prior to the Sri Lankan tragedy.
A special packed church service was held in Tongue in the wake of the bombings to “quietly reflect” on the tragedy – and with prayers offered for the Povlsens.