Stunned Scottish Crannog Centre apprentices were left speechless when they saw the impact of Friday evening’s devastating blaze.
The hugely popular tourist attraction, near Kenmore, was destroyed by flames late on Friday with fire crews battling the inferno throughout the night.
As the community rallied round to offer support, with tens of thousands of pounds raised in a fundraiser, apprentices at the living history museum on Loch Tay spoke of the shock they felt as they witnessed the aftermath.
Trustees of the Centre said they are “now even more determined to double-down” on the development of the new Crannog Centre already in planning on the north shore of the loch at Dalerb.
‘There was silence’
Daisy Charles, Izzie Hanby, Georgia Holmes, William Kent and Toby Sloan are undertaking a year-long apprenticeship at the Crannog Centre while working towards an SVQ in Customer Service.
They were lost for words when they first saw the impact of the flames.
They said: “We just looked at it and there was silence.
“There was that moment of silence when we first saw it – it looked so empty.
“It all feels like a dream – it’s still a pinch yourself moment.
“It is such an iconic place and now it’s gone.
“You get so attached to it. We thought it was always going to be here.”
‘It has made us so much stronger’
The apprentices have already shown their resilience following the blaze, particularly in their coming together to support each other.
“It has made us so much stronger,” they said.
“We are not a community, we are a family.
They added: “We hope it can still stay open. We still have the artefacts and the outdoor spaces.
“You tell the story of the people and that will absolutely continue. This could have happened to them.”
Assessor at the Crannog Centre Graham Liney said: “There was a lot of emotional support – they were all supporting each other.
“Although it is horrendous, they have a sense of humour.”
Donations have poured in to a fundraiser launched in the wake of the fire as the Perthshire community came together in support.
The apprentices became “emotional” on seeing community members sharing kind words and donating to the fundraiser.
They said: “It’s amazing. It’s emotional reading everyone’s Facebook comments. There are hundreds, thousands.
“We want to thank the community for being so supportive.”
Meanwhile, SNP councillor for the Highland ward Mike Williamson visited the Centre alongside John Swinney MSP and Pete Wishart MP on Monday afternoon to offer support following the fire.
— Scottish Crannog Ctr (@ScottishCrannog) June 14, 2021
Councillor Williamson described the Centre as a “jewel” in the area.
He said: “The fire is absolutely devastating news.
“It is amazing that the community has pulled together.”
Perth and Kinross Council Leader Murray Lyle and Conservative councillor for the Highland ward John Duff visited the site on Sunday.
Councillor Lyle said: “I am truly sorry to see the devastation caused to the Crannog by the recent fire.
“Last month, Perth and Kinross Council provided financial assistance to the Crannog in connection with its plans to move to its new site across the loch at Dalerb.
“Following the visit, I have had the chance to listen to the thoughts of the Chair and Director on how the Council can help the Crannog Centre to recover from this blow and will be discussing the opportunities for further assistance with the Council this week.”