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Community groups and good causes facing uncertainty or hardship because of the coronavirus are to share in a Christmas gift of £18,280 from Scottish Sea Farms. This brings the total donated by the salmon farmer to £1.3m since 2011.
In total, 43 local causes across the company's farming regions of mainland Scotland, Orkney and the Shetland Isles are set to benefit from grants of up to to £500 from the company's Heart of the Community Trust.
Scottish Sea Farms' Heart of the Community Coordinator Georgie MacKenzie explained: “In addition to the main Heart of the Community fund which gives out grants of anything from a few hundred pounds to £10,000, each of our Farm Managers is given a £500 community allowance annually to support the local cause or causes of their choosing. It's a great way of ensuring that the money goes where it's needed the most.
'This year however, with the coronavirus taking up everyone's focus from March onwards, only a small number of Farm Managers had been able to allocate their awards, with the result that there was still £18,280 remaining in the fund.
'To ensure local causes benefited before the year was out, each Farm Manager was asked to nominate projects in their communities where the funds might make a real and positive difference to those struggling because of coronavirus.'
The initiatives chosen range from food banks, mental health charities and befriending schemes, to community hospitals, nursery groups and aid for refugee families in Scotland.
The Oban offices of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Samaritans also stand to benefit, as do several local schools.
Alan Tangny, Farm Manager of Spelve on the Isle of Mull, didn’t have to think for long about how to spend his £500.
As a father of five, he has four children currently at Salen Primary School, two of them in the pre-school, and his eldest was also a pupil there.
Tangny knew a £500 gift to buy new library books would be well received by Head Teacher Mairi Maclean, particularly with Covid conditions creating a particular problem.
‘They are having to quarantine books that are taken home so having extra books will be a big help,’ he said.
The funds will go towards fiction and non-fiction titles and hopefully they will be on the shelves when the children return in the New Year.
For the company’s Northern Isles Regional Manager, Richard Darbyshire, the obvious choice was Fernvalley Wildlife Centre; a popular visitor attraction on Orkney which overlooks Tingwall harbour from where Scottish Sea Farms' Wyre team operates.
'As with so many local organisations, it's been a tough year financially for the Centre after being forced to close for months,' said Darbyshire.
'£500 won't fix all of the problems that come with that but if it helps the Fernvalley team to continue looking after the animals then it's money well spent.
'We are involved in a lot of projects on Orkney already, but the community allowance is for causes Farm Managers think are important and need help. This project fits the bill perfectly.’
Scottish Sea Farms' Heart of the Community Trust, which marks its 10th anniversary next year, has given over £1,322,562 to community causes since it was established in 2011.