The field centre Blair House, high in the Angus mountains, survived the threat of a purchase which aimed to keep people out of it, and has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire.
The building is largely complete, including all of the challenging construction. There is only a few weeks' work of straightforward fitting, cladding and decorating left to do. But disaster has struck again, when the lead contractor went into liquidation.
Although no money was directly lost, completing the final 5% of a £400,000 project costs far more than £20,000. The new contractor must be paid for a whole new site set-up, to make good all the ‘snagging’, and to finish up a much larger piece of work. There are also extra professional fees for the architect and quantity surveyor doing a new tendering and induction process. At the moment, the projected cost of completing Blair House is over £150,000, which is way beyond my means.
Now, this figure can be attacked on all fronts. I shall work hard with the architect to find ways to reduce the total substantially. I shall look for sponsorship. And once it is in a manageable relationship with my salary, I should be able to access a business loan to get the work finished. But I also need your help.
Those of you who have followed the saga of Blair House from the start will remember that when I first bought it, I saw it as a community project, and many of you donated to a crowdfund to help with the initial refurbishment. Since the fire in 2016, when I had the prospect of finishing a whole new house without a debt thanks to the insurance money, various people have offered to fundraise, but it seemed unnecessary and also unreasonable when I was going to enjoy the income from it. Now, however, Blair House is likely to be paying its debts for many years. So its immediate benefits will not be directly to me, but (as was the original vision) to all the people who I hope will enjoy staying in it in the years to come, or enjoy seeing it as they walk up Glen Doll, or simply enjoy following its adventures and stories on-line.
I don’t expect a crowdfund to raise £150,000 (although you never know!) But what I do know, is that there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of you who are interested in Blair House, who stayed there as children, whose children stayed there, who have walked past it many times at the start and end of adventures, or who have discovered it recently and read the sign I posted on the fence.
So the most important thing about this crowdfunder is to demonstrate what a much-loved place Blair House is, and how many people are rooting for it. If you are able to give significant amounts it will speed things along brilliantly. But if you can give £5 and leave a message to say that you can’t wait to see Blair House finished, or that you hope to stay in it one day, or that you know of a group who would use it, that will also be hugely important in enabling me to access the sponsorship and funding to get those last few weeks of work done.
If there are two of you, I’d love it if you could take the extra five minutes to leave two separate donations rather than one joint one, so that it’s easy to see what a ‘crowd’ there is.
If you are interested in larger sponsorship, or have ideas of potential donors, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also read more about the story of Blair House on the Blair House blog.
I’ve often thought with satisfaction of how pleased the thousands of people who visit Glen Doll will be when they finally walk past, not a building site, but a finished house full of life: children playing, adults relaxing after a few munros, swallows in the eaves, bats in the roof spaces, bees amongst the flowers in the turf wall, and the blue-tits who have already moved into the nest boxes on the gables. Everyone who contributes to this crowdfunder can have a genuine piece of that satisfaction, because it won’t happen without you. You’ve got the keys to open Blair House.