From left: SCIO committee member Sharon MacInnes, Cooke’s Furnace general manager Andy Young, SCIO secretary Gill Telfer, new tenants David and Cindy MacInnes, retiring owners Syb and Mike Masters, longtime Furnace resident Edith MacKellar, SCIO committee member Andy Henderson and Vicci Laird, head of human resources for Cooke Aquaculture Scotland. Photo: Cooke

Salmon farmer splashes out £10,000 at the local shop

Cooke Aquaculture Scotland has donated £10,000 to a community buyout project to help ensure the local shop in the village of Furnace on the north shore of Loch Fyne in Argyll remains open.

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The majority of the money was raised through the Scottish Land Fund and the rest came through contributions from local businesses and the Furnace Community SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation).

A Cooke Aquaculture Scotland spokesperson said: “For those who have never lived in a rural community, it’s difficult to put into words just how essential a local shop is to its residents.

The shop has been bought by the community, with help from Cooke.

Rely on shop’s services

“The shop’s closure would have been a huge loss to the area and those who live there, as it would have left them with an 18-mile journey just to get to the nearest amenities. When the Furnace Community SCIO applied to our community donation scheme, we were more than happy to contribute £10,000 to help them reach the amount required.

“As our hatchery operates in Furnace, we, like other businesses in the area, regularly rely upon the shop’s services so it’s an essential part of our operations there.

“We wish the new tenants, David and Cindy MacInnes, every success for the future and would like to thank the Furnace Community SCIO for ensuring the long-term future of the shop.”

Environment and Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “The Scottish Government, via the Scottish Land Fund, is delighted to grant £164,000 to this local community group to help them to purchase such a vital amenity for the residents of Furnace.

“I’d like to congratulate the group for their dogged efforts in getting to this point. Thanks should also be extended to Cooke Aquaculture Scotland for their generosity, demonstrating yet again how the sector is committed to supporting the framework of our rural communities. I’m sure that the endeavours of everyone involved will ensure that the building remains a focal point of the village for many years to come”

Hub of the village

Edith MacKellar, who has lived in Furnace for 50 years, said: “We often don’t miss something until it is gone and when we learned that the shop was in danger of closing, we realised the devasting impact it would have on the community.

“The shop and Post Office are vital to someone like me, who doesn’t drive, doesn’t use the internet and whose nearest bank is now 18 miles away.

“The shop is the hub of the village and is a central meeting place for local residents. The people who run the shop are essential to our way of life. They will quickly notice if someone hasn’t been in recently and will alert a neighbour which allows them to check in and ensure everything’s OK.

“When we learned that the funding had been approved there was a widespread sense of relief and celebration. We very much appreciate the financial contributions and other support that we have received.”

The Scottish Land Fund programme is financed by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade.