Crime novelist Ian Rankin yesterday helped Cromarty celebrate the delivery of two brand new trikes that will enable elderly and frail members of the community to get out and about.
Around 60 locals gathered in the Victoria Hall to enjoy tea and cake before heading out on a tour around the town on their tri-shaws.
Funding for the Cromarty Care Project was secured in record time, with Highland Cross backing the purchase of both trikes, while items such as blankets and covers were funded by the Northern Meeting Charity.
And among those delighted to see them in action was Mr Rankin, whose youngest son uses a wheelchair.
The family own their own home in the area, having enjoyed a disability-friendly holiday on the Black Isle some years ago.
He said: “The trikes here are fantastic and they will really allow people to get out and about.
“I have seen them before in Inverness and thought that it was a really good idea. I was so pleased when I heard that Cromarty was getting one as well.
“Like everywhere else, you have an ageing population that really wants to get out and about, but for those with disabilities that is easier said than done.
“These trikes are just perfect.”
Shirley Matheson, trustee of the Cromarty Care Project, said: “Everybody just loves them. Our elderly users are all talking about them.
“They will get people out and about, ensure they enjoy some fresh air and get chatting to people.
“Tourists are absolutely fascinated to meet the ‘recycled teenagers’ as they have dubbed themselves.
“It has been a real community effort. Everybody has rallied around.”
The trishaws have been named after two legends of the town, milk pony Patsy and her owner Gracie, who delivered milk each day to locals.
Rides on the trishaws are free, but fundraising for the project will continue to support their £300 annual cost.
Christine Bell, executive officer of Cycling without Age Scotland SCIO, said: “The local support has been outstanding. It resonated with me that this is a very close-knit and supportive community.
“People are stopping the trikes and chatting to people they haven’t seen in years and then they might instigate a visit, so people are becoming alive again in the community.
“It is definitely ending social isolation. It is bringing people joy.”
In total, 15 people are currently trained as guides who will navigate users around the town.