The Findhorn Foundation has vowed to rebuild after a fire destroyed “the heart of the community”.
Flames burned the Moray enclave’s community centre and main meditation sanctuary to the ground, leaving only charred supporting pillars and an external staircase of some of the oldest landmarks on the park.
The striking wooden hexagonal community centre building was home to large communal lunches and dinners with residents, shared Sunday singing sessions and workshops.
However, it also played host to countless celebrations, parties and ceilidhs over the decades as the social hub of life on the park.
Colourful mosaics that once stood proudly outside the wooden structure survived the flames but reduced to charred remains.
Meanwhile, the sanctuary was regarded as the “spiritual heart of the community” since the Foundation’s early days.
‘We will rebuild’
Today police confirmed that a 49-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the Findhorn Foundation fire.
Meanwhile, specialist officers have begun an investigation to establish the full circumstances.
It’s devastating, just numbing.”
Jonathan Caddy, son of Findhorn Foundation founder Eileen Caddy
Emergency services arrived at the Findhorn Foundation shortly after 2am on Monday and remained at the scene for nearly 12 hours. Nobody was injured.
Residents embraced each other as they gathered to see the devastation for themselves.
Jonathan Caddy, son of Eileen Caddy who was one of the three Foundation founders, was born in a caravan just yards away from where the large hexagonal wooden community centre stood.
He said: “It’s devastating, just numbing, but there’s been a lot of support.
“When it was built in 1969 there were just 13 people here but my mother had the guidance that we needed a kitchen able to feed 200 people – and the community has grown organically around it.
“It’s very upsetting. I’ve seen it go up and now I’ve seen it come down. Hopefully a new beginning can come from this.”
Caroline Matters, chief executive of the Findhorn Foundation, said: “We are so grateful that no one was hurt and know that the spirit of the community lives in our hearts and connects us all here in Moray, Scotland and our global community around the world.
“Buildings can be rebuilt. Our main concern is to take care of our co-workers and community.
“Our purpose and commitment is unwavering. We will rebuild, we have been through trials and tough times before and we will make it through this event.”
Messages of support from across world after Foundation fire
The Findhorn Foundation community, which is home currently home to about 200, was formed in the late 1960s and aims to inspire a positive future for humanity and the planet through inner guidance.
Every year thousands visit to take part in meditations and workshops to inform their own understanding of the world.
Messages of support to residents of the community have been posted by people from across the world who share a connection to the enclave.
It is understood that the fire alarm was raised shortly after 2am by residents on the Findhorn Foundation.
Volunteer wardens then evacuated about 12 people from nearby buildings before emergency services arrived at the scene shortly after.
At its peak, there were seven fire crews at the scene working to control the blaze as well as a welfare unit from Inverness and water carrier from Buckie.
Today Findhorn Foundation residents gathered at their front doors to take part in a shared minute’s silence to “connect the hearts” of those affected by the fire.
‘Foundation important part of Moray community’
Richard Lochhead, the SNP’s candidate for Moray at next month’s election, said: “I was incredibly sorry to hear about the fire at the Foundation and my thoughts are very much with the whole community.
“The Foundation is such an important part of our local community and the damage caused is absolutely devastating.
“I’m in touch with the emergency services and have reached out to the Findhorn community to offer my support at this difficult time.”
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Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “This is terrible news. Thankfully, no-one has been hurt.
“My thoughts are with everybody at the Findhorn Foundation. Once again, our local firefighters deserve praise for their quick response to this incident.”
A police spokesman said: “We were called at about 2.05am on Monday to a report of a fire at a community centre at the Findhorn Foundation.
“A 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”