A devastating flood caused by burst pipes has left a Highland charity facing damage costing tens of thousands of pounds and set back its re-opening plans.
The Oxygen Works uses oxygen therapy to treat people with a variety of conditions at its base in Inverness.
The facility, which has been closed since December, was extensively damaged when frozen pipes in the roof space burst despite heating being left on, causing the ceiling in the office and kitchen to collapse.
Most of the building’s floor has also been ruined and left strewn with debris, while computers, phones, a printer and promotional material have been destroyed.
It is thought the centre’s oxygen chamber, the only one in the central Highlands, has escaped intact, but it still has to be professional inspected.
The charity’s treatments, which also include physiotherapy, massage and reflexology, can help with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes.
Pre-lockdown it was visited by members from across the Highlands, Aberdeen, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides who are now receiving support virtually.
Staff hoped to re-open in March, but the flood damage has now delayed that date by several months.
CEO Leigh-Ann Little said: “If we didn’t need people’s support before, with what is happening with Covid, then we desperately need it now.”
She is asking people to sign up for Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk charity event from April 23-25 and nominate to support the Oxygen Works.
The flood was discovered by a passer-by who alerted police.
“We are grateful for her quick thinking, but it’s been absolutely devastating for us”, said Ms Little.
“The police said water was coming out the front door and running down the inside of the office window.
“The floor will have to be ripped up and we’re concerned about the foundations. It’s just a mess. We’ll try to salvage what we can, but there’s not much that can be salvaged.
“We were just waiting for the time to open the doors again and welcome people back. We’re now looking at several months of work being done before we can contemplate re-opening.”
She added: “It’s been a horrible, horrible year. We worked really hard to get where we were and it just feels something else has now been thrown at us. But this is just another blip, another curve ball, and I have no doubt we will come through this.”
Scotland’s Kiltwalk events have raised £20.6 million in five years for more than 2,000 Scottish charities.
Ms Little added; “We were already going to promote the Kiltwalk but it’s more important now. It’s a great way for our supporters to do something practical for the charity at a time when we really need it.”
The centre re-opened last August after the first lockdown, with most clients saying their conditions deteriorated during the closure.