Volunteers turned out in droves on Saturday to help clean up the wreckage of a devastating fire which destroyed the main buildings of a children’s nursery in Fort William.
Staff and parents who use the Stramash nursery were shocked after a blaze raged through its only outdoor wooden structures last week.
But, after vowing to remain open, the centre’s manager, Cameron Sprague, from Fort William, said he was “grateful and humbled” by the support of the community.
More than 100 people arrived on Saturday morning to help remove the debris including mental roofing and charred wooden structures.
Stramash works with 68 children aged between two and five in the north of Scotland community.
The P&J reported last week that a fire spread through the castle area of the award-winning outdoor nursery, on the site of the former Rio Tinto Social Club.
Two fire crews tackled the blaze at Inverlochy Mains, North Road, until the small hours of last Monday morning.
After what he described as an “emotional week”, Mr Sprague thanked people for their time in assisting the centre to clear debris from the site.
He said: “The Fort William community are just like teabags, you only know how strong they are when you put them in hot water.
“Enormous thanks for your work today.”
Fundraising campaigns for the popular outdoor nursery have been launched throughout the town, with the group pledging to rebuild the unique outdoor setting for the children’s early education.
A fundraising page has been set up by the group and donations have been pouring in with nearly £2,500 raised to date.
Mr Sprague continued: “On a very wet, windy, and cold January Saturday, more than 100 volunteers came to help kickstart the clean up and rebuild of the nursery.
“My heart is genuinely singing, and I’m so grateful and humbled by the support of our community.”
Volunteers cleared the area of small metal debris such as nails and metal roofing and helped prepare the ground for temporary portacabins.
Jess Greenhill of Stramash Social Enterprise which runs outdoor nurseries in Oban, Elgin and Tornagrain said: “Stramash Fort William is open for business and determined to build an even better nursery space for our children.”