Thursday, 25 June 2020

Local Bellabeg Shop Creates Hampers For Elderly Lonach Members

Hampers for Lonach members created by Bellabeg Shop

The organisation that runs one of north-east Scotland’s most iconic Highland Games has helped to lift the spirits of its elderly members and the widows of former members during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society organises the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.  During lockdown, it has distributed 47 hampers to its oldest members.  Each hamper contained food, basic household essentials and a few treats to help raise morale.

The initiative was made possible thanks to the Howse family who run the Bellabeg Spar Shop in Strathdon.  Each year, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, held on the fourth Saturday in August, provides a significant boost to the Bellabeg Spar Shop.  Following the cancellation of this year’s gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers wanted to support the rural shop and called on their help to create the hampers.

With the assistance of Dundee-based CJ Lang & Son, the Spar wholesaler in Scotland, the shop was able to supply the quantities of items needed to put together all the hampers.  Each hamper featured tea, coffee, porridge oats, jam, cordial, tinned foodstuffs, crisps, soap, washing-up liquid, toilet roll and sweets.

The Howse family established a mini assembly line to package up the hundreds of items into the individual hampers.  These were distributed to members who live around the north-east, while two were also posted from the shop’s post office counter to Brora and Muir of Ord.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “When the country entered lockdown the society wanted to do something that would lift the spirits of our older members and also ensure they didn’t need to worry about some of basic food items and household essentials.  The hampers were a small gesture.  They have been a huge hit and really well received, bringing many smiles.

“Bellabeg Shop and Lonach are extremely supportive of one another all year.  We source a lot of items through their supply network as it helps to support and sustain the local Strathdon economy.  The shop pulled out all the stops to create the hampers for the society at a challenging time, for which we are hugely grateful.

“Rural shops and post offices – such as in Bellabeg – are important to their communities, which has been shown in recent months.  We all need to use them to ensure they thrive and prosper.”

The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is finalising plans for how it intends to mark what would have been the day of the 2020 Lonach Highland Gathering on Saturday, 22 August, following its cancellation due to COVID-19.  Details will be announced on social media in the coming weeks.

In 2021, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will take place on Saturday, 28 August.