Queen praises residents of Storm Frank

Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the recently reopened Balloter Golf Club. Picture; John Linton
Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the recently reopened Balloter Golf Club. Picture; John Linton
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The Queen has praised the residents of Ballater for their response to severe flooding last December.

Around 600 homes and 100 businesses were devastated when the River Dee burst its banks and swept through the Aberdeenshire village and surrounding areas amid Storm Frank.

Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the local fire service during a visit to Ballater. Picture; John Linton.

Queen Elizabeth II meets members of the local fire service during a visit to Ballater. Picture; John Linton.

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During her annual stay at nearby Balmoral, the Queen travelled to Ballater to meet locals and hear about the ongoing recovery effort.

She arrived in Bridge Street and visited a row of shops which have recently reopened, including HM Sheridan butchers which supplies meat to Balmoral.

Co-owner John Sinclair said: “We lost all stock and machinery under about three feet of water. There was nothing left.

“Luckily, through staff work and good insurance, we managed to get going again and reopen in about 12 weeks, but it wasn’t easy.

“The first few weeks everyone stuck together and that’s something the Queen seemed to know about. She was really impressed with the way it’s been turned around and she was full of praise for all the help from everywhere, as we all are.”

The Queen also visited a craft shop, a book store and an architects office, before heading to Glenmuick Church in the centre of Ballater to meet people whose homes were flooded.

She also met community members who played a crucial role in the response to the crisis, including representatives from Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Rotary Club, Braemar Mountain Rescue Team and Aberdeenshire Council.

Resident Josephine Hazley’s family is one of about 30 who have still not been able to return to their homes.

She said: “We go through spells of feeling quite low because we would have loved to be back in our family home for Christmas, but that’s not going to happen.

“We have to be realistic and I try to be patient and tolerant and remember that there were people affected right across the country.

“The Queen, I think, was a bit surprised we weren’t back home yet and she asked about the damage and seemed genuinely concerned.

“But we just have to keep going, and it was uplifting to meet her today.