Jul 032017

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

(L to R) Sarah Harker and Moira Gash of DeeTour and VisitScotland regional director Jo Robinson.

A pair of Aberdeenshire entrepreneurs have launched a new tourist guidebook aimed at attracting more visitors to Royal Deeside.
Moira Gash and Sarah Harker, who run tour and activities business DeeTour alongside their own separate businesses, have created the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a pocketsize guide showcasing things to see and do in the Aberdeenshire valley.

The pair previously worked for tourism body Visit Royal Deeside.

Aimed at national and international visitors and locals alike, the 128-page book highlights the diversity of the area’s tourism offering. The guide was created after local tourism businesses called for this type of publication.

With stunning scenery, a wealth of locally produced food and drink, and an array of tourist attractions, golf courses and outdoor activities to enjoy, Royal Deeside has something for visitors of all ages. The book is designed to provide a comprehensive insight for those planning a trip to the area, while also acting as a guide and money saving tool as they explore the region.

Along with highlighting key tourist attractions and profiling the amenities and activities on offer in each of the main towns, the guide features interviews with local artists, tour guides, musicians, sportspeople and tourism professionals, helping to bring the region to life. A golf trail and a tea and cake trail each present further incentives to explore Royal Deeside, with participating businesses offering discounts to customers.

The history, heritage and culture of Royal Deeside and Scotland is also outlined, and a handy summary of Doric words will help visitors to grasp some of the basics of the distinctive north-east dialect.

Priced at £9.95, the Royal Deeside PassporTour provides purchasers with over £200 worth of savings through the 23 vouchers and two trails that it features.

The guidebook is also suitable for local families looking for inspiration for things to do during the summer holidays. Vouchers include 15% off at Go Ape at Crathes Castle, 50% off at Battlegrounds Paintball, two for one entry to Braemar Castle and 20% off day rover tickets at the Deeside Railway.

Co-director of DeeTour, Moira Gash, said:

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour aims to allow travellers to make informed choices as they plan their trip to Aberdeenshire and also act as a reference tool while they are visiting. Thanks to its royal connection, Deeside draws visitors from around the world and we’ve had interest in the guide from far and wide.

“Not only is it suitable for those visiting the area for the first time, but the huge savings offered by the featured businesses makes it a fantastic tool for locals. For families planning day trips during the summer holidays, the savings on offer at Go Ape at Crathes Castle and Battlegrounds’ paintballing, near Banchory, more than cover the cost of the book.”

The initiative has received the backing of VisitScotland, and was showcased at this year’s Royal Highland Show as part of the Aberdeenshire Village display, where it was given an enthusiastic reception from show visitors.

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director, said:

“I think the Royal Deeside PassporTour is a great idea to inform visitors coming to beautiful Royal Deeside of the vast array of attractions, entertainment, locations and handy hints and tips, as well as locals looking for ideas for the summer holidays.

“Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the regional visitor economy. We need to think big about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a tourism destination to ensure we fulfil our potential – every visitor must get a quality experience, every single time.

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour reveals some of Aberdeenshire’s best-loved places as well as its hidden gems, and is a fantastic celebration of everything that this charming corner of the world has to offer visitors.”

Copies of the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be purchased from a number of businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire or online at www.deetour.co.uk.

DeeTour is an Aberdeenshire-based tour and activities business that was established by business partners Moira Gash and Sarah Harker. The business provides bespoke tour and activity packages to help visitors explore Aberdeenshire. In 2017, DeeTour launched the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a new guidebook highlighting the wealth of things to see, do and sample in the region. The pocketsize book, which costs £9.95, includes over 20 vouchers that provide more than £200 of discounts at local business. 

Further information about DeeTour and the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be found at www.deetour.co.uk.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 172017

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside SNP councillor Geva Blackett (pictured) has hailed the start of the project to reinstate Ballater’s popular Old Royal Station, destroyed by fire nearly two years ago.

The B-listed building, owned by the council, was historically used by the Royal Family travelling to nearby Balmoral Castle and was hit by a fire which broke out in May 2015.

The building had been leased to VisitScotland for the last 15 years and housed a Visitor Information Centre, restaurant, museum, clothes shop and photography business.

Although much of the building was severely damaged by the fire, a replica Royal carriage survived, as well as various undamaged display cases.

Aberdeenshire Council committed to rebuilding the station and subsequently submitted a successful planning application to the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

There will be changes to how the internal space will be used – both the Visitor Information Centre and the restaurant will return and these will be joined by a library and an enhanced exhibition space. The Royal Carriage will be reinstalled as one of the main attractions.

The project, expected to cost in the region of £3million, is expected to be completed in December of this year, all being well.

The principle elevations of the original building will be reinstated matching the Victorian architecture and detailing, including Queen Victoria’s Waiting Room.

Commenting, Cllr Geva Blackett said:

“This marks the start of the restoration of this iconic building that plays such an important role in Ballater and indeed the whole of Royal Deeside.  Watching the first turf being dug makes me hugely optimistic that the fortunes of this beautiful village have turned a corner.”

Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal marked the start of the project by cutting the first turf with a ceremonial spade and wheelbarrow used to start the construction of Ballater Railway Station by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company in 1865.

He said:

“Ballater has had a tough time lately. The fire was a terrible tragedy along with the devastation suffered as a consequence of Storm Frank.

“However, I can see real progress with many shops open for business again and more and more residents returned to their homes.  Therefore, it is great to see another milestone achieved through the start of the construction work to redevelop the Old Royal Station.”

Morgan Sindall area director, Mark McBride, said:

“Morgan Sindall has a successful track record of delivering public sector projects and we’re proud to have been selected for one that has such significance to people not only in the local area, but across Scotland as a whole.

“It’s our first contract awarded through Aberdeenshire Council’s main contractor framework and we’re pleased to get work underway. 
“Ballater Old Royal Station has a rich cultural history and is integral to the region’s tourism industry. We’re mindful of the need to retain as many of the original heritage features as possible during the restoration process and confident that the finished building will be well received.”

The station was opened in October 1866 by the Great North of Scotland Railway and was the nearest station to Balmoral Castle. It closed in February 1966.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 022017

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

VisitAberdeenshire’s business development manager Jenni Fraser.

Over 6,000 Norwegian holidaymakers will have the chance to learn all about the north east of Scotland when VisitAberdeenshire heads to the Stavanger Travel Day this weekend. The tourism body will exhibit at the top travel event held in the Clarion Hotel Stavanger on February 4.

VisitAberdeenshire’s business development manager Jenni Fraser and tourism executive Raeanne Farquhar will attend the event, which will allow them to speak directly with Norwegian travellers to reveal everything Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have to offer.

With multiple airlines operating direct flights between Stavanger and Aberdeen, including SAS and Wideroe, there has never been a better time for Norwegians to visit the north east of Scotland.

Exhibition attendees will even have the opportunity to win a weekend in the Granite City with flights provided by Wideroe. The lucky winners will stay at the Macdonald Norwood Hall Hotel, and will receive tickets to any Aberdeen Festival which coincides with their visit.

Jenni says,

“Norway has long been an important market for tourism in the north east of Scotland, and at just over an hour’s flight time it’s easy to see why. The region is appealing for Norwegians looking for a weekend city break or to explore some fantastic countryside.

“Historic castles and traditional whisky distilleries remain a big draw for Norwegian tourists. From Slain’s Castle in Cruden Bay, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the regal Royal Lochnagar Distillery, nestled in the hills beneath Balmoral Castle, the north east of Scotland certainly isn’t a disappointment.

“But whisky and castles aren’t the only reason that Norwegian travellers make the journey to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The fact that there are over 50 golf courses, including impressive links courses along the Aberdeenshire Coast, is a real attraction – the Norwegian Golf Federation, the country’s fourth largest sporting organisation, boasts over 103,000 members.

“World-class outdoor activities in Royal Deeside and wider Aberdeenshire, and a growing reputation for fine food and drink, mean that more and more holidaymakers are considering the north east as a holiday destination. And our cultural offering – including festivals like True North and the Aberdeen International Youth Festival – also provides a unique programme of entertainment that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

 “We look forward to meeting the Norwegian public in Stavanger, and showing them all that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have to offer.”

For more information about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jan 272017

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A high-profile treasure hunt expected to attract over 3,000 visitors is to be held in Aberdeenshire in 2019. Thanks to support from VisitAberdeenshire, the UK Mega geocaching event will welcome participants – known as cachers – from across the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.

The week-long geocaching event will take place from 5-11 August 2019, with camping and entertainment at Deeside Activity Park as well as organised activities including Munro climbing and watersports.

This allows visitors the chance to explore Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s stunning landscape by searching for caches – hidden containers which house secret messages, log books and sometimes prizes – before the main event on Saturday 10 August at Kincardine Castle.

Cachers use GPS and other navigation tools to aid them in their quest: a modern-day treasure hunt that has captured the imagination of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts across the globe.

Aberdeenshire won the bid to hold the 2019 UK Mega event, beating strong competition from Sussex. UK Mega has been running high-profile geocaching events since 2008, changing location each year to allow enthusiasts the opportunity to travel the country. This year’s event will be held in Devon, while the 10th anniversary event will take place in Yorkshire in 2018.

Julie Buckingham, chair of Aberdeenshire Mega 2019, says,

“We are delighted to have been successful in bidding for the Geocaching UK Mega to come to Aberdeenshire in 2019. Cachers travel from all over the world to take part in the UK Mega, so this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the incredible scenery and attractions in the north east. VisitAberdeenshire has supported us through the process, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the run-up to the event.”

UK Mega has been brought to the north east with the help of tourism body VisitAberdeenshire. Business development manager Jenni Fraser (pictured) says,

“Geocaching has become incredibly popular in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and there are dozens of caches across the region – both in the countryside and in the city centre.

“Royal Deeside is a real focal point for the region’s geocaching community and is home to Scotland’s only GeoTour – which takes in 20 locations – so it is an ideal choice to host the UK’s highest-profile geocaching event. We are delighted that UK Mega has chosen Aberdeenshire to host its 2019 event, and we look forward to welcoming the global geocaching community to the region.”

For more information about the Aberdeenshire Mega 2019, visit www.mega2019.org.uk

For more information about geocaching in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com/what-to-do/royal-deeside/geotours

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 012016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Mark & DFP Ballater - Copy2

Mark Beaumont is getting on his bike to Ballater for the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale with David Fox Pitt of Wildfox Events

If you’ve been inspired by Team GB’s achievements in the Rio 2016 Olympics then get on your bike and head to Ballater which, with a bumper crop of top cycle events about to take place, has become the region’s self-styled home of cycling.

The Deeside village is gearing up for a series of cycling highs catering for all abilities –  from  families seeking a weekend of fun to competitive cyclists looking to be challenged on testing long distance routes.

The September cycling season kicks off with the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale which takes place on Sunday 18 September and has been endorsed by record-breaking long-distance cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont who has tested the 100 mile closed road route.

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival takes places over the same weekend, from 16 -18 September to complement the Etape, regarded as one of Scotland’s most scenic and challenging closed route cycle sportives and which starts and finishes in Ballater.

The 100-mile circular route takes participants on a traffic-free journey through historic Royal Deeside and Aberdeenshire, Moray’s Whisky Country, and back along the banks of the picturesque River Dee, allowing cyclists to take in the breathtaking scenery present throughout the region. For those who don’t feel quite up to the full distance, there are also 45 and 65 mile routes available.

A series of family-friendly events and activities are on offer over the course of the weekend, including a mountain bike skills circuit and a bike roadshow featuring weird, wonderful and wacky bikes from the past and the present, body zorbing and a climbing wall.

Those participating in the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale are encouraged to bring their families along to enjoy the festivities, including a family ceilidh, showings of cycling themed films and talks and presentations by Mark Beaumont and former Scottish Rugby captain Rob Wainwright and see what the rest of what Ballater has to offer.

The following weekend, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September Cycle Highlands is running a demo weekend with guided rides and the chance to trial the latest Santa Cruz and Juliana bike models.

The busy month of biking in and around Ballater will be followed by a bespoke conference which is expected to further reinforce Cairngorm’s  growing reputation as one of the places to visit in the UK to enjoy the booming sport of mountain biking. The Scottish Mountain Bike Conference – Innovation Edition will be held from 17 to 19 November in Aviemore, recognising the region’s popularity for the sport, and including some of the programme being delivered in and about Ballater.

etaperoyale2-hill cimbRichard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association runs a specialist cycle shop in the village and says that after London 2012 Olympics there was a growth in Scottish cycling with the number of competitive events and female participants increasing.

He expects that the historic achievements of British cyclists competing Rio 2016 to also impact positively in take-up of the sport – and hopes that the Ballater region will see the benefits.

Mr Watts says:

“Riders from all over the UK, and overseas come to the Cairngorms to enjoy cycling in all its forms and who could blame them?

“Ballater is an ideal location from which to explore natural trails and various purpose-built centres and is surrounded by terrain suitable for all abilities.

“From easy forest trails to single-track descents cyclists can explore for an hour, day or week.

“The quiet roads and former railway, now the Deeside Way, give a spectacular window into local nature and history and there are offer and the stunning landscapes to enjoy.

“The cycling opportunities we’re able to offer in this part of the world, provide cyclists stunning landscapes to soak in on two wheels and are a real asset to the area.

“We hope to  reap the benefits of the success of Team GB’s cycling stars in Rio 2016 who are a real inspiration and may well  encourage others to to give cycling a try and to come and do so exploring our wonderful region on two wheels.”

The Royal Deeside Cycling Festival takes place from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September in Ballater. Supported by EventScotland and official charity sponsor Marie Curie, the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale gets underway on Sunday 18 September, the cycle sportive covers 100-miles and an ascent of 2,996m. For more information, visit: www.etaperoyale.com

Further details of the Demo Weekend from 24-25 September is available at http://www.cyclehighlands.com/events/

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.


Jul 082016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

DDS exterior1Businesses in Ballater have been buoyed by a feeling of optimism after seeing the reopening of a number of premises which were hit by floods in December last year.

A number of shops and offices in the Bridge Street area are back in action again which is helping to restore the feel-good factor in the centre of the village.

That’s the view of Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association, who comments:

“The way in which Ballater picked itself up to move forward after the serious and devastating consequences of Storm Frank has been quite remarkable.

“People have shown reliance, grit and determination to move forward. This can-do attitude has been inspiring.

“What’s been particularly worthy of mention has been the strong pulling together of the local community. That sense of support has been very evident and I am sure it will remain as the village continues to repair and heal from the worst floods in living memory.

“The message we want to highlight now is that Ballater is very much back in business – come and see for yourself!”

The sense of support and co-operation can be illustrated by two hair salons working together after the flooding forced the closure of one of the premises. After its Bridge Street salon was flooded, D’Tangled moved in to join the Hair Loft at Netherley Place. The arrangement worked so well that the temporary set up has been made permanent and both businesses will continue to trade under the one roof.

The former salon has now been converted into Deeside Design Studio (pictured), with Ian Rodger Architects in Aberdeen opening its first regional branch in Ballater. Joining associate Sarah Russell in operating from the office is quantity surveyor David Cobban who works for McCue and Porter in Aberdeen.

When Laurie & Co reopened its refurbished Ballater solicitor’s office, it expanded its workforce, welcoming a new associate solicitor to its team.

Messages of support received from all over the world were a real source of encouragement to Neil and Davinia Massie after Rock Salt and Snails in Ballater suffered extensive flood damage. The popular café is back in action and is looking forward to a busy summer season, welcoming back locals and visitors alike.

Fellow café owner Karen Gerrie of Brown Sugar Café has also been able to reopen her business, improving access for disabled customers during the refit.

Ballater Golf Course was back on course just three months after Storm Frank caused substantial damage when thanks to the help of volunteers, members of staff and employees of an oil company, the full 18 holes were reopened.

Months of hard work saw the Ballater Caravan Park official relaunched with the touring site substantially upgraded, including an upgraded toilet block and new play park.

Mr Watts says there are lots of good examples of how progress has been made, and believes that the business association can continue to benefit from the collaborative working seen since the floods.

He adds:

“As a business association, we hope to harness this spirit, using it to continue communication between local businesses, in the exchanging ideas to promote business in the area, and in considering local issues that concern the entire community.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 302016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Glen Lui SMALL

Glen Lui Hotel in Ballater

Ballater’s back on the map – that’s the bold statement from accommodation providers in the Deeside village as the area continues to bounce back from flooding and rolls out the welcome mat to summer visitors.

Ballater’s hospitality trade is in positive mood as they welcome the return of seasonal visitors choosing the village as their holiday base.

In the past couple of months, the Glen Lui Hotel has welcomed parties of fishermen, golfers and an American shooting party – and staff look forward to seeing yet more visitors to Ballater, attracted by its great range of outdoor activities, while being within easy reach of Aberdeen and the city’s attractions.

Susan Bell of the family-run hotel which has 17 rooms says:

“The village is coming to life again and I think there is a feeling of anticipation as everything is getting busier.

“Shops are looking better and there’s only a few yet to reopen. We’re looking forward to Ballater Victoria Week, Ballater Games and Etape Royale and then our big winter festival which will feature an ice rink and reindeer and these will all result in a lot of activity in the area.

“There are people milling around at the monthly farmers markets too. Ballater has suffered its setbacks with the floods and the fire at the Victoria  Station but now everyone wants to push Ballater as much as possible.

“I think everyone is pulling together and looking forward to all that’s ahead.”

Deeside, with its natural beauty and its close connections to the Royal family who arrive at Balmoral Castle for their annual break in August, has long been a favoured destination with visitors.

Alan McCorquodale of the Alexandra Hotel says that Ballater makes a great base for exploring the wider area.

“There are rays of hope all around the village as businesses are refurbished and reopening and community events that will help draw visitors to the area are being planned.

“Great progress has been made and there’s a real push on now to show that Ballater is moving forwards in the right direction.

“In a relatively short time, Ballater has come a long way in overcoming the challenges and hurdles that Storm Frank brought in its wake.

“Six months on and it’s a completely different picture from the images of the flood-ravaged village that filled the newspapers and were broadcast on television news.”

Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association said that the village is fortunate to boast a great range of bed and breakfast establishments, caravan park open for tourers and campers, guest houses and hotels and that all are well prepared for the school holidays and visitor market.

“We’d encourage visitors from near and far to come and enjoy a break in Ballater and experience for themselves excellent hospitality at our great range or accommodation providers. It’s easy to find them at www.visitballater.com

“Our village has a huge amount of vibrancy and vitality, and we’d encourage visitors, be they day trippers or holiday makers looking for a longer stay, to come and see all that Ballater and the surrounding area has to offer.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 302016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

BVW Panto Horse TrialsResidents of a Deeside community are being called on to have sandbags at the ready – for a fun stunt designed to put a smile on faces as it prepares for its annual summer extravaganza.

Hundreds of sandbags were filled and put to use to try and defend Ballater from Storm Frank and the deluge it brought to the Deeside area in December last year.

Now with the floods firmly behind them, organisers of Ballater Victoria Week have come up with a tongue-in-cheek competition which they hope will raise a few smiles.

They are appealing to villagers to decorate leftover sandbags and share photos of their creations on social media.

As well as injecting a bit of humour, the novel competition points to how the community has galvanised and moved on following the flooding. The most liked picture on Facebook will be judged winner of best decorated sandbag – earning its owner £50.

“Just for fun we are inviting people to decorate a sandbag,” said Ade Scipps of the Ballater Victoria Week committee.

“There’s bound to be a few spare ones knocking around and they could be turned into a favourite character, use it to plant flowers, or whatever people like. We just want to cheer the village up and give people something to chuckle about as they go about their day. It’s a smaller scale creative competition which complements our scarecrow trail, which sees a weird and wonderful array of life-size scarecrows popping up in locations around Ballater.”

Ballater Victoria Week takes place from August 5-14 with its biggest programme to date.

As well as established favourites, like the vehicle parade and Sunday fayre, duck race, scarecrow trail, pantomime horse trials, ghost tours, films, quizzes, sports and music there are a few new events are in the offing too, like a Rio 2016 Onesie Party when villagers are encouraged to get into party mode by gathering together to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in the V&A Halls and the ‘Weel Kirkit’ heritage walks led by a professional story teller.

Over the years Victoria Week has raised thousands of pounds for local causes and continually seeks to renew and refresh itself by reflecting current trends and initiatives.

It offers another chance for the community of Ballater to celebrate and enjoy some fun after the floods gave the area the most challenging start to the year.

DSCN2916With its close connections to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s summer home, Ballater pulled out all the stops to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday earlier in June when hundreds of people of all aged gathered for the Happy Birthday Ma’am street party.

Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week hope to see the same show of community spirit with another well-earned opportunity for villagers to have fun and let their hair down. The annual party week has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession, raising thousands of pounds for local charities along the way.

Among the highlights of the 10 day extravaganza is Ballater Highland Games which takes place on Thursday, August 11 and includes sports, hill race, Highland dancing and much more.

With Ballater Victoria Week enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike, Richard Watts, chair of the Ballater Business Association is pleased to see it develop and grow in 2016.

“The resilience and determination to get over the floods has been quite remarkable and everyone is keen to get over the message that Ballater is back on its feet and is very much open for business,” says Mr Watts.

“Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week work really hard to put together an action-packed programme with events to appeal to people of all ages. Locals and visitors alike will be welcome to join in the fun and there will be plenty of cheer and chuckles along the way.”

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

For more information about Ballater Victoria Week visit the website http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

BVA is also active on social media at http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 172016
DDS exterior1

Deeside Design Studio has opened in Ballater after the flooding provided the opportunity of office space in the centre of the village.

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

The flooding of Ballater provided an unexpected opportunity for an Aberdeen architectural practice to open its first regional branch.

Last December’s floods served as a catalyst for Ian Rodger Architects to act on plans to set up a Ballater office and press ahead with investing in the area.

When an ideal site in the heart of the village became available, the business took action and it has now opened an office to serve clients in the Deeside area.

Its new premises at 28 Bridge Street, which were damaged during the flooding, have undergone complete refurbishment and Deeside Design Studio opened last week.

It is staffed by Ian Rodger Architects’ associate Sarah Russell who lives in the village, and who previously commuted daily to the Aberdeen practice. It’s also being used by quantity surveyor David Cobban who lives in Ballater and works for McCue and Porter in Aberdeen.

Ian Rodger, owner of Ian Rodger Architects has praised the local community for the warm welcome villagers have shown and looks forward to seeing the Deeside office develop and grow.

Ian says:

“Ballater is a lovely place and local people have been very positive and helpful during the refurbishment works and now that the office is open. It’s early days and the new office has strong links to our Aberdeen practice, but it is our hope to see it develop and grow over time.

“It was always part of our plan to open an office in Ballater. When this premises came up we were able to work with the previous occupant –  who relocated due to the flooding – to have the lease reassigned, and a change of use granted.

“We have  spent considerable time and money to have the property repaired and enhanced, recognising how important it is to Ballater that Bridge Street gets back into working order as soon as possible.

“We wish to extend the invitation for anyone affected by the flooding and requiring any building advice to drop into our office at any time.  More than that, we have good experience in all types of building projects, and are happy to take on any scale of project in Deeside.

“It’s noticeable that there is a strong community spirit in Ballater, and we look forward to expanding our Deeside workload as part of its business community.

“Our associate, Sarah Russell, is a local of Ballater and lost her flat during the flooding. Sarah is especially keen to help the village recover and becoming closely involved in the local business community.”

To build links with the community, Deeside Design Studio has sponsored the Highland dancing competition at Ballater Highland Games in August and will be joining Ballater Business Association.

The previous occupant of 28 Bridge Street was hairdressing salon D’Tangled, which is now sharing premises with The Hair Loft.

Richard Watts, chairman of Ballater Business Association, says that attracting new business investment in Ballater is a real positive step and another sign of optimism.

“We welcome the opening of Deeside Design Studio and look forward to the firm becoming a valued part of our business community. I am sure it will gain benefits from being part of our forum and the opportunities this provides through promoting communication between local businesses and the exchanging of ideas.

“It’s heartening to hear of the warm welcome that local folk have already shown to this new business and it’s another indication of Ballater getting back on its feet.”

Jun 102016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Laurie and coAn Aberdeenshire solicitor’s office affected by flooding is set to reopen next week and has expanded its workforce in the process.
The Ballater branch of Laurie & Co was badly hit by floods in the aftermath of Storm Frank last December, but the newly renovated office is on track to open next week, with only the carpets and furniture left to be fitted.

Laurie & Co has used the opportunity to welcome a new associate solicitor to its team at the Ballater office, expanding its workforce to three full-time and one part-time member of staff.

The recent repair work on the office has also allowed the firm to create an additional office for its new member of staff.

The Aberdeen-based solicitors first opened a branch in Ballater five years ago, after taking over from Gray and Kellas. Since then, the Bridge Street office has built up a strong client base in the village by offering a wide range of legal advice and services. The team has been operating out of its Aberdeen headquarters for the past five months and regularly stay in touch with clients via phone calls and emails.

Directly after the floods, Alan Nicoll, a partner at Laurie & Co, held workshops providing legal advice for residents who were facing difficulties claiming insurance. Laurie & Co also provided insurance information for those affected by the floods on its website. The webpage is still active and offers practical advice and a step-by-step guide on what to do after you’ve been affected by flooding in regards to insurance.

Speaking about the insurance workshops, Alan says,

“The floods were obviously a really distressing time for everyone involved, but the outpouring of support from all over really helped to lift everyone’s spirits. All of us at Laurie & Co wanted to do something to help. I’d heard that some people were struggling with their insurance claims, so that’s when I decided I was going to give residents advice on how to handle their insurance issues.

“Most people didn’t know where to start when it came to insurance, which is understandable as it would’ve been the last thing on everyone’s minds. It was a good feeling to be able to help out by offering legal advice, Ballater residents had been through enough without having to worry about their insurance not paying out. My colleagues also helped out by compiling the advice page on the Laurie & Co website, which people are still using to this day.

“The support the village received was absolutely incredible and it certainly helped get us all back on our feet. I’m so proud that the office is reopening next week, alongside a few of our neighbours. The entire community has achieved so much this year and hopefully Ballater will come back stronger than ever.”

The firm’s staff are now looking forward to seeing their new office and getting back to work in Ballater. Since the beginning of the year, the village has gone from strength to strength and Laurie & Co is one in a long line of businesses which are due to reopen this month or have already reopened.

Richard Watts, of Ballater Business Association, says,

“I am thrilled to hear that Laurie & Co is going to be reopening next week. The expansion of both its workforce and office shows that the firm is looking towards the future.

“It’s great that so many local businesses are taking the opportunity to make improvements which will provide a better experience for staff, visitors and clients. This is another extremely positive step for Ballater and also marks the start of a new beginning for the village.”