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Huntly advice service says thank you to local garage which kept them on the road after fire attack

By Pat Scott

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THE garage which came to the rescue when vandals set fire to the van used by the charity shop arm of Huntly's lifeline advice service have been warmly thanked for their generosity.

Gordon Rural Action, (GRA) were left without a van for their charity shop Bargain Box after the attack at the start of August.

Income from Bargain Box is vital for the operation of the advice services but without the van the shop couldn't collect larger items of furniture, nor deliver them to some households in desperate need.

But when Neil Marshall who works in the family business G and L Marshall heard what had happened he offered a loan of a van.

Pauline Brotherstone , lead volunteer at the shop said: "Getting the van for eight weeks meant we could continue to collect and deliver furniture. With the help of Marshall's Garage, we have raised £8000 that would otherwise have been lost. We really cannot thank them enough.

"They were so generous, we just needed to fill it up with fuel. We could have been in a very different place financially without their help."

Mr Marshall said that with a pool of hire vans it had not been a problem to help Bargain Box.

Bargain Box's delivery van after it was damaged in a wilful act of fire-raising in August.
Bargain Box's delivery van after it was damaged in a wilful act of fire-raising in August.

He said: "I was shocked when I heard that a van, operated by a charity helping people had been vandalised and was pleased to help. GRA do great work in Huntly and round about. We are lucky they are based in the town and can make a difference to so many people. I was more than happy to help them out when the chance came along and amazed by the revenue generated while using our van - that would have been a big loss."

Laura McNeil who recently joined GRA in a funding and retail support role said: "Now more than ever with the effects of the pandemic, furlough ending, challenging accessibility to food due to Brexit and soaring fuel costs our services are vital, already this month we have applied for more crisis grants than we would in a whole winter season.

"We don't want to see anyone struggling this winter and we encourage anyone finding themselves in financial difficulty, for whatever reason, to come and see us and we will do our utmost to support however we can.

"G&L Marshall so generously giving us the use of their van means we are here for the community this winter.

"We lost so much revenue from the shop during lockdown that the thought of losing another eight weeks of income due to mindless vandalism was heartbreaking.

"Running any charity isn't easy and we are constantly looking for funding to keep our services available to the community.

"The difference with the revenue generated from the shop is that there are no conditions attached as with external funding we secure, so we can spend it on running costs and salaries. G&L Marshall's kindness has provided a much-needed lifeline, we can't thank them enough."

Founded in 1978, GRA had one of its most challenging periods during lockdown when advice teams worked remotely 2020 and Bargain Box had to close.

From April to the end of September this year, GRA advisors supported 429 clients securing almost £120,000 in financial gain for them.

They dealt with 1316 separate issues seeing people in person, or contacting them by phone, email,text and messenger.

In the same period, the baby bank supported 95 families, 87 per cent from the immediate Huntly area, distributing 823 items.

The school uniform bank goes from strength to strength and in six months distributed 392 items for 106 clients, representing a financial gain of £2580.

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