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Glenlivet and Inveravon Community Association

The Glenlivet and Inveravon Community Association meetings in 2015 as follows:-

Last Wednesday in:

January at Inveravon School

April at Glenlivet Public Hall

July at Braes Hall

October - AGM at Glenlivet Public Hall

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Read minutes of meetings online here:

Public Meeting April 2009

Minutes of the OPEN meeting held on 29 April 2009 in
Glenlivet Public Hall

1. Apologies.

Helen Wester; John Woods; Pearl Paul; Jenny Hershell; Fiona Toovey; Michael McGillivray; Val Ireland; Sue Watts.

2. Presentation on First Responders.

Report on this part of the meeting at the end of the minutes.

3. Minutes of the Open Meeting held at Inveravon School on 28 January 2009 and the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 16 March 2009.

A summary of these minutes was given. The full minutes were on display at Tomnavoulin and Ballindalloch shops, on the web site and available by e-mail. The Open meeting minutes were ratified at the Committee meeting, as is the custom, and the Committee meeting minutes will be ratified at the next Committee meeting.

4. Matters Rising.

i) Community Goodwill Fund.

a) Medical Equipment.

Dr. John Derounian has requested the purchase of a defibrillator - approx. cost £1000. Agreed on a show of hands with no dissension.

b) Contribution to repairs of Inveravon Church organ.

Before discussing this the Chair asked the Treasurer to update the meeting on the amount available for donations from Community Funds. There were questions regarding the large sum shown as needing to be kept in hand to run the Community Association for a year.
It was explained that this included up-front expenses for Tea in the Park (repaid later from profits) costs connected with the Community Fishing (revenue to come from Fishing Permits) and a Contingency Fund.

The sum remaining in the Goodwill Fund was £3,800. Windfarm money would be available in 2010 and there was a balance of approx. £500 that could be claimed from windfarm money already accessed as the Community share had increased.

Youth representative Jamie Adamson commented that the money didn't have to be spent. The Chair agreed but said that the money had just sat in the bank account for some time and the purpose of raising it was to disburse it to Community projects.

b) Inveravon Church Organ Fund. - discussion resumed.

Patricia Lawson reported that £24,000 had been raised with a further £5,000 to be found. She proposed that £1000 be given to the Organ Fund. Seconded by Hugh Munro. Agreed on a show of hands with one dissension.

ii) History Trail

This had been raised at the Crown Liaison Meeting and the Crown is keen to take it on as a joint venture with the whole Community - including Inveravon. It was agreed to appoint a Steering Group to take the matter forward. The group - all volunteers - will be Eleanor Macintosh; John Shewan; Simon Forder; Patricia Lawson.

iii) Downan Graveyard.

Patricia Lawson will be having a meeting with the Moray Council next week. Two new sites have been proposed and Jamie Adamson suggested a third. Councillor Fiona Murdoch was asked if the Council were dragging their feet over this matter. She replied that the Council is totally committed to the speedy provision of a new graveyard and it was only the lack of a suitable site (several had been surveyed and discarded) that was holding things up.

iv) Speyside Council Dissolution.

Helen Wester had attended the last meeting on behalf of GICA in the absence of Rita Marks. The mood amongst those present was for dissolution with the type of business they had conducted passed to the Area Forum. The Secretary read out a letter that had been received from the Speyside Council setting out the position. Councillor Murdoch said that while the Speyside Forum had been slow to take off, and still had problems, they might be helped by the dissolution of the Speyside Council. Eleanor Macintosh said that the Cairngorms National Park Authority are very keen on involvement with Forums. Jo Durno asked what would happen to the funds currently held by the Speyside Council. Rita Marks said there were trustee arrangements at present to give assistance to Speyside High School pupils for extra curricular cultural activities. The Council will be guided by the Scottish Charities Commission as to their future use. It was agreed, on a show of hands with no dissension, that Rita Marks attend the Speyside Council AGM on 14 May 2009 and report that GICA supported dissolution.

5. Correspondence.

The only correspondence received was the letter from the Speyside Council - already dealt with. The secretary had been absent from the last committee meeting so the letters she had been requested to write to the Moray Council had only recently been sent and no reply had been received to date.

The Chair had received a letter from a resident of Bridgend of Glenlivet complaining that sewage from a septic tank, situated in his garden but belonging to another property, was discharging into the river. Although SEPA had been informed and involved the problem still existed. After discussion the meeting agreed that the Community Association could not get involved in what was a dispute between neighbours but, if the problem continued, they could contact SEPA querying the situation from a Public Health point of view and also has to how it might affect fishermen on that stretch of water. Councillor Murdoch said it was her understanding that a new septic tank was to be installed, shortly, within the curtilage of the offending property. It was agreed that the situation would be monitored and discussed again, if necessary, at the next meeting.

6. Sub-committee reports.

i) Best Kept Village.

Rita Marks said a meeting had been organised for Saturday 16 May 2009 in the conservatory of the Croft Inn at 3.00 pm. She urged as many people as possible to attend. The group responsible for the look of the area had dwindled over the years. Very little physical work was involved but decisions had to be taken and new ideas would be welcome. The meeting would be publicised by e-mail and posters.

ii) Fishing.

There are still trees in the river above Tomnavoulin. As the Crown are unwilling to help the Fishing sub-committee are considering other options.

iii) Marypark Playpark

Nothing to report.

iv) Tea in the Park

Rita Marks said agreement had been reached with the Public Hall as to a 50/50 split of the profits. Most people involved regularly with Tea in the Park, as well as other community members, had recently completed an Elementary Food Hygiene Course. There was a draft timetable of helpers in place. A request for assistance in various fields would be in the next edition of Thistledown. Most stall space was already booked but if there were some new crafts that could be included that would be good.

Eleanor Macintosh asked that GICA express their thanks to Councillor Murdoch for arranging the free Food Hygiene course.

7. Rubbish at recycling point. (on Agenda as item 9)

As Sarah Walker, who had raised this issue under Any Other Business, had to leave at this point it was agreed to discuss this item now. Sarah Walker said people had been leaving bulky household waste by the recycling bins at the hall. She suggested a piece in Thistledown condemning this, information about the Council bulky uplift scheme on the web site, and also raised the possibility of notices, possibly official ones from the Council, to place at the Hall. Councillor Murdoch agreed to find out if any such posters were available. Eleanor Macintosh said that as well as what amounted to Fly Tipping household waste was being put in the Waste Container belonging to the hall, leaving no room for rubbish disposal by its rightful owner.

6. Sub-committee reports - resumed.

v) TV Mast

Nothing to report.

vi) Dornell Windfarm.

John Shewan had attended a meeting with Pendragon. They were keen to get a trust established for disbursing community money. GICA's preference has always been for a set-up similar to that at Paul's Hill but Pendragon are adamant that they do not wish to be involved with the community money aspect. It is likely that what is known as the Sutherland Formula (agreed by the Scottish Executive) will be used to calculate the proportion that each community within a 12-kilometre radius will receive. The suggestion is that each community has two representatives on the distributing body plus a paid company secretary. The sum involved could be in the region of £400K per annum. Eleanor Macintosh expressed disquiet that the communities seemed to be railroaded into a Heads of Agreement without full discussion. John Shewan said that irrespective of the merits or otherwise of a windfarm if there was community money available we wanted our share. It was better to be in at the beginning and not be presented with a done deal as had happened at Paul's Hill. Councillor Murdoch said Planning Permission would be sought during May but because of the size of the project the Moray Council would refer it on to the Scottish Executive, This could lead to considerable delays, possibly up to 2 years. If agreed construction will take a further 2 years so it will be 4 years before any money comes on stream.

8. GICA representatives on other bodies.

i) ACC.

Rita Marks reported that here had been a training day while she was away so she had been unable to attend. There had not been a standard meeting since she last reported.

ii) Moray Access Forum.

Jenny Gate reported that objections and consultations on the Core Path Plan continued. She was asked if MAF were involved with the Dornell wind farm.
She replied that it was not within MAF's remit to come out for or against the proposal. They were solely concerned with Access matters while possible construction took place, and continued access thereafter. They were also able to comment on items such as car parks and interpretative boards.

9. CNPA Matters.

Eleanor Macintosh said the CNPA were still very committed to Community Planning and that Claire Ross, who had spoken to GICA before, would like to come again - with a representative from a community which had already been through the process.

10. Blairfindy Castle

Following the cutting down of the trees at Blairfindy Castle John Shewan had been concerned about wind damage to the structure. He had spoken to Rachel Brumby of Smiths Gore and she had said it was possible that some of the structure would have to be lowered if remedial work was carried out. The Crown is to carry out a survey within the next 2 - 3 weeks. It had been mooted at one point that the Castle could be sold to the community for £1. In view of this John Shewan had asked Simon Forder to investigate the availability of grants and advice and assistance from various bodies. His comprehensive report is attached as an end paper to these minutes.

The meeting agreed that Simon Forder continued to make further enquiries.

11. Rubbish at recycling point

Dealt with as item 8.

12 Any Other Business.

i) Closure of canteen at Glenlivet School

Although this is now a fâit-accompli Eleanor Macintosh asked that the Community Association write to the Moray Council expressing their dissatisfaction with the consultation process. Objections to the closure had been 100% - but had been totally ignored. Also the staff had learnt of their fate via the local press. The whole exercise would save very little money and would be a disaster in inclement weather. The secretary was instructed to write to the Convenor.

ii) Vacancies on Cairngorms National Park Local Access Forum

Jo Durno reported that she was resigning from this body. Other people were also leaving and there would be several vacancies. If any one was interested they should put their name forward.

iii) First Responders.

Following on from the presentation there was a discussion on how this could be taken forward. It was felt that at least 4 defibrillators would be required to cover the area, which would have cost implications. Several people at the meeting expressed interest in training as First Responders but the number was insufficient to take the project forward formally at this stage. It was agreed that the secretary places an article in Thistledown to generate wider interest and that the matter be discussed again at the next Open Meeting.

12. Date of the next meeting

Wednesday 29 July 2009 at 7.30 pm in the Braes Hall.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 9.50 pm.


Presentation by Alan Knox of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

First Responders was set up 5 years ago with a first target of establishing 20 schemes. Within 18 months it has expanded exponentially. There are now 36 working groups and the total is expected to reach 50 by the end of the year. In the 5 years only 1 scheme has collapsed and that is in the process of being revived. First Responders has been created because it is not possible to sustain an ambulance, with fully trained technical staff, in every village. 70% of cardiac arrests happen in the community and 60% of those in the home. Survival rates are 83% if treatment can be started within 8 minutes or not much more.

The sequence of events where there is a First Responder team in place is an initial call to the ambulance service. Ambulance despatched and First Responder contacted. (First Responders are not sent to road traffic accidents, to obstetric situations or where there is domestic or other violence.)
First Responder answers the call and starts CPR. If necessary defibrillation is administered. Paramedic arrives.

First Responders do not diagnose the patient's condition but recognise the problem if a heart attack has occurred. They manage, not treat, the condition. They place the patient in the recovery position and maintain airways. Start CPR. Use defibrillator if required. This machine does all the work, only operating if the heart has stopped. It also incorporates a "smart" card, which can be used to provide information to cardiac specialists when the patient reaches hospital.

. To set up a group 8+ volunteers are required. There is an application form. Disclosure (police check) and driving licence required. A Health Questionnaire is filled in. Training is then given (16 hours over 2 days) to IHCD accreditation. 3-monthly assessments are carried out and there are 6-monthly refresher courses. A local co-ordinator reports to an ambulance service team leader. Above him are a Divisional Commander Residence Officer and a general manager for the north of Scotland.

The British Heart Foundation provides equipment, mobile phones, portable oxygen cylinder, a defibrillator and other basic equipment to communities. Where no mobile phone signal is available pagers or radios are an option. First Responders can use their own vehicles or there is a lease scheme for purpose-built vehicles. There is also money available for training, accreditation and set-up costs.

Alan Knox demonstrated the defibrillator, which is shock proof and has a battery shelf life of 5 years.

After the presentation there was a question and answer session.

It was mooted that in an area the size of Glenlivet/Inveravon more than one defibrillator would need to be sited within the community. One or possibly two defibrillators could be provided by the British Heart Foundation, any extra would have to be financed by the community. Asked about the geographic knowledge of those taking an initial phone call Alan Knox said they could pinpoint individual houses to contact the nearest First Responder. Asked about insurance he said this was provided by the ambulance service and included personal accident insurance for First Responders in house calls.

Alan Knox was asked about a Scottish TV programme, which had been disparaging about First Responders. He said it was about a specific area involving a problem with the local GP and local politics in general. The ambulance service, and indignant First Responder groups, had asked for the right of reply but that had not been forthcoming.

Alan Knox was thanked for coming and giving his presentation. The meeting discussed the implications of what they had heard under Any Other Business.

Report by Simon Forder for GICA
John approached me on 1st April to look into the various options open to us as a community association regarding the Castle of Blairfindy. We exchanged a number of comments concerning our concerns about the safety and future prospects for this important ancient monument given our understanding of the plans of the Crown Estate for the building.
My first port of call was Historic Scotland in Edinburgh to establish the situation regarding grants. On speaking to Historic Scotland it became apparent that they had two types of grant; one which related to properties which were being "done up" with the intent of occupation, and the other which is for stabilisation of historic monuments that are in a state of ruin.
I was informed that the maximum grant that Historic Scotland would be prepared to consider would be between 50% and 75% of the total cost of works from start to finish. Having said that, I was left with the feeling that if a community association or similar public body were to apply for funding, the maximum grant would be allowed. I was given a number of further contacts by the gentleman I spoke to, all of whom I called and discussed the situation with.
Among the people I spoke to were the Highland Buildings Preservation Trust (HBPT) who have carried out a number of similar projects, including the emergency stabilisation of the tower of Burgie Castle, near Forres, They expressed an interest in seeing the building, and I agreed to meet with them on 7th April to discuss Blairfindy and what options there were.
The HBPT were extremely impressed by the scale of the surviving buildings and architectural features of the Castle. It is extremely unusual for a building of its age to survive in such a relatively intact condition. I should point out here that the castle has been listed as a national monument, ie of national importance, but has only been categorised as a B-listed building, which I feel to be entirely inappropriate. The HBPT took a number of photographs of the building which I have subsequently added to. As experts in their field, the HBPT are not a source of funding. However, they offered in principle to act as properly qualified and experienced experts on behalf of the community association in discussion of any planned works to the castle by the Crown. This would help ensure that any works which were to be done would be appropriate to the building.
Initial works to Blairfindy, including a proper architectural survey and stabilising works, including underpinning and repointing, seem likely to cost somewhere in the region of £75,000 to £90,000 as a rough ballpark figure, This would be the minimum work necessary to save the Castle from collapse, and would probably necessitate partial demolition of the building. It is my understanding that this is the nature of the works that the Crown would plan to undertake, subject to the architectural survey. I think it unlikely that they would carry out more extensive works of their own accord.

If the Crown were to undertake such works, this would most likely cover the 25% - 50% of the total project costs as would be needed for the balance to be funded by Historic Scotland; assuming that the Crown were not receiving this funding themselves. I am not sure of the status of the Crown Estate getting grants for such work. The results of my initial investigations of further sources of funding include the heritage lottery, Europe, and a number of charitable trusts. The nature and scale of such funding would depend on the plans for the castle. The amount of money available would also increase under such projects as promotion of Scottish Traditional Skills such as masonry, joinery and the like - use of tradesmen who apply traditional methods of construction for example. The amount of money also depends on the historical importance of the site.

I don't know how much of the history of Blairfindy the members of the community association are aware of, so forgive me if I go over old ground for some of you here. The commonly available information is that Blairfindy is a modest L-plan tower house of the Gordons, built in the sixteenth century and used as a hunting lodge.
The truth is that the castles history is a lot more confusing than this simple account would have us believe. Blairfindy was originally part of the Lordship of Strathavon, part of the lands which were sold to the Earl of Huntly by the grandson of the Wolf of Badenoch hi 1490. It seems likely that the actual occupants of Strathavon at this time were Grants, who held lands in Strathavon from the Earl. The Grants of Blairfindy can be traced from a younger son of the Laird of Grant of this time. It seems probable that it was the Grants who first built a castle at Blairfindy, perhaps replacing the earlier fortification at Deskie, which was also held by Grants. In 1568 the Gordon Lord of Strathavon died, resulting in a bitter dispute between the Laird of Grant and the Earl of Huntly. It seems that the Grants lost out here as in 1586 John Gordon of Cluny, younger son of the Lord of Strathavon recorded his marriage to Margaret Gordon with a heraldic datestone over Blairfindy's door. In 1590 John Gordon’s younger son married the widow of the Laird of Ballindalloch in an attempt to gain the estates. The Grants caught up with him and killed him at Darnaway Castle, which involved the Gordons who lived at Blairfindy in the feud between the Earl of Huntly and the Bonnie Earl of Moray. In 1592, Huntly arranged for Morays murder, and ended up being outlawed, which resulted in the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594, when the Grants fought against the victorious Huntly. hi 1604 John Gordon of Cluny started building a new castle at Cluny, leaving Blairfindy for good, in 1606, the Laird of Grant gave up his lands in Strathavon to the Earl of Huntly, later 1st Marquis, which included Blairfindy as the Earl insisted Grant supply him with wood for its upkeep. In 1647, the 2nd Marquis of Huntly was captured at Delnabo as a fugitive and was kept prisoner at Blairfindy, where messages were sent by Grant of Carron to say that he would be rescued or his men would all die hi the attempt; but he replied he was worn out and tired of living in hills and dens, so he was not rescued. It seems that the Grants had re-inhabited Blairfindy after the civil war period, as tenants of the Gordons again as Grants of Blairfindy continue to be mentioned from 1649 until the Jacobite rebellions. The Grants of Blairfindy were prominent Catholics and Jacobites; Colonel David Grant was Bonnie Prince Charlie’s close advisor and was his mapmaker in the 1745 campaign, in 1746, however, after the Battle of Culloden, Hanoverian troops burned his "House of Blairfindy," since which time it has been abandoned. Ownership of the Blairfindy Estate passed to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon in 1836, and was given to the Crown in lieu of death duties in 1937, at which point it was renamed the Glenlivet Estate.
So, we have a castle which can be linked directly with the feud which caused the death of the Bonnie Earl of Moray, with the Battle of Glenlivet, and Bonnie Prince Charlie; these events and the causes of them are amongst the most important historical events in northern Scotland.
Architecturally, the castle is an L-plan tower house, which means it is made up of a main hall block and a smaller adjacent whig which contained the stairs. The ground floor was all vaulted and had a kitchen, cellar and guardroom as well as a number of defensive shot holes. The first floor contained the main hall and an unusually vaulted small chamber which may have served as a chapel or strong room. (It is unusual for a first floor room to have a stone ceiling). The upper floors were reached by a spiral turret stair and contained two floors of private chambers plus an attic, and the joist holes can be seen in the walls. Most of the fireplaces still survive. What makes Blairfindy a particularly interesting example is that it was never extended or altered significantly from this plan. Most of the lesser gentry of sixteenth century Scotland lived in this type of castle, but very few survive in this form, and none survive to the wall head and chimney stacks like Blairfindy. Particularly unusual is the castle-like platform overlooking the entrance from the roof, which is a deliberate attempt to make the castle look more warlike than it actually was, and the evidence for the main staircase suggests it was supported on stone arches in the walls. Inside the castle, many features survive which give a good idea of the internal design including parts of the spiral stair, doorways, holes for metal window bars and even a piece of roof joist which shows signs of burning. Blairfindy Castle had a slate roof, and the blocked up windows suggest that it was developed from an earlier fortification, perhaps a simpler hall-block of the fifteenth century. The floor of the castle is two or three feet deep in debris, which probably includes most of the internal masonry vaulting. More historic evidence will lie buried in it.
In conclusion, Blairfindy Castle, although at first glance a small and unimposing building, contains many interesting features that could provide important insight into understanding late medieval and eighteenth century Glenlivet. It brings together many of the most important themes which run through local and national Scottish history. It is a building which, if restored sympathetically and properly, the community could be proud of, and it should prove to be a valuable local resource bringing income to the area. It would be a desperate shame if we are not allowed to make the most of this opportunity through lack of interest, understanding and enthusiasm for local heritage. We need to ensure that any plans for this important and beautiful local landmark are appropriate for the monument and for the community, and I feel personally that by involving a body such as the HBPT hi this process, the community are very likely to benefit.

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