People power paves way for surgery
A COMMUNITY company in Fort Augustus has raised more than £600,000 to replace a medical centre which was destroyed by fire.
Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company (FAGCC) has been working tirelessly to raise money to rebuild the medical centre on the Caledonian Canal following a devastating blaze on October 25 2015.
After the fire, NHS Highland said it did not have sufficient funds to replace the centre, but could potentially pay a lease on a building.
FAGCC is now seeking to buy and redevelop the site having raised £630,000 of the required £680,000 for construction of the new centre.
The money has been raised by FAGCC, with the bulk of the funding being donated from a community benefit scheme run by Flack Renewables and the SSE Glendow Hydro scheme. A total of £25,000 is believed to have been pledged by GPs from the practice and Glengarry Trust has donated £10,000.
The most recent total was reached after a grant of £98,724 from the Scottish Land Fund, which is funded by the Scottish Government, was confirmed last Thursday.
With the target amount in sight, FAGCC has held a number of drop-in sessions in Fort Augustus and Invermoriston to gauge public opinion on services for the centre, which has approximately 1,400 registered patients including children.
After analysing the surveys, FAGCC reported that dentistry and optical services were highlighted as being extremely important and sought after.
A company spokesperson said: ‘We also sought the views from a number of groups in the village after it came to our attention that people did not attend [the drop-in sessions] as they had given the project its blessing at the initial meeting.’
GPs based in Fort Augustus have been working out of tem- porary accommodation at the village’s Telford Centre since the fire.
Local MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes, shared her thoughts on what the efforts of the company could do for the area but recognised more needs to be done to help.
She said: ‘I commend Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company for its vision and entrepreneurial spirit in securing future medical services within the village.
‘Community ownership like this empowers and transforms Highland and island communities and the award from the Scottish Land Fund demonstrates just how seriously the Scottish Government takes community empowerment.
‘In the community consultation, transport was a recurring issue, regardless of whether people were travelling to Inverness or Fort William for NHS or private appointments.
‘I know myself, as I drive across the constituency, that fuel is costly and public transport is expensive, and sadly often infrequent and unreliable.
‘So developing transport links, as part of providing local healthcare, also needs to be a priority.’
Kate Forbes MSP believes companies like FAGCC empower and transform local communities.