Beinn an Tuirc bottle boosts helipad fund

From left: South Kintyre Development Trust manager Eric Spence, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers director Emma Macalister Hall and highest bidder Lewis Nelson.
From left: South Kintyre Development Trust manager Eric Spence, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers director Emma Macalister Hall and highest bidder Lewis Nelson.

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Sales of a special release Beinn an Tuirc Distillers citrus gin have given the Robert Black Memorial Helipad fund a lift.

The East Kintyre distillery announced the special bottling in March to commemorate the fit-for-purpose helipad, named in honour of Campbeltown paramedic Robert Black who died in May last year after a battle with Covid-19, being completed at the start of this month.

Initially only 99 bottles were available to purchase, with £16 from every bottle sold being donated to South Kintyre Development Trust (SKDT), which has taken on a licence to operate the helipad and is responsible for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the site on behalf of the community. Demand was so high, however, that another 25 bottles were released.

Bottle number one was auctioned off on April 1, the day the helipad was deemed operational, with 100 per cent of the winning £160 bid, placed by Campbeltown man Lewis Nelson, being donated to SKDT.

Beinn an Tuirc Distillers director Emma Macalister Hall met with Lewis and SKDT manager Eric Spence last week, to give Lewis bottle number one and present Eric with a cheque for the total £2,144 raised.

Lewis, who had to fight for the bottle after a bidding war broke out, said: ‘It’s a nice way to support the project — and it’s also a good way to get a nice bottle of gin!’

He added that he is actually teetotal so the bottle will serve as a memento of the occasion.

Eric said: I’d really like to thank Beinn an Tuirc Distillers — it’s a fantastic amount raised. The support we’ve received from the community, and local and national businesses, has been amazing.’

Emma added: ‘We wanted to support the project because we know the difference it will make to the community. It’s fantastic — although we hope we never have to use it.’

The helipad project was led by ambulance technician Stuart McLellan, from Neilston in East Renfrewshire, after he saw emergency services struggling to airlift patients from the often water-logged field which previously served as a helipad while visiting relatives in Campbeltown in 2018.

The £270,000 facility was fully funded by the HELP Appeal, a charity dedicated to funding NHS hospital helipads, and was built by Kintyre companies McFadyens Contractors and McKinven and Colville, with specialist equipment supplied by FEC Heliports Equipment.