Queen to visit Ballater as town recovers from flood

Ballater was hit by floods just before New Year.
Ballater was hit by floods just before New Year.
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The Queen is to visit the recovering flood stricken ‘Jewel of the Cairngorms’ today.

Her Majesty is set to tour the town of Ballater in Aberdeenshire’s Royal Deeside nine months after residents had their lives turned upside down during severe flooding.

The Queen will visit business and home owners. Picture: Macvean

The Queen will visit business and home owners. Picture: Macvean

Around 300 homes and more than 60 businesses were devastated when the River Dee burst its banks and swept through the community just before New Year.

Many storefronts in the community’s main street are still lying empty but after months of hard work to repair the damage the Deeside village is gradually getting back on its feet.

The monarch is now to tour the town, meeting with business and home owners who were affected by the natural disaster.

Ballater councillor Peter Argyle said: “I think this visit will be tremendous.

“Clearly there is a very close relationship between the whole community of Ballater and Balmoral, and The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family have shown a huge interest and a lot of concern about what happened at the start of the year.

“They’ve been very helpful and very supportive of the community, so I imagine this visit will be continue that pattern.

“I’m sure the residents of Ballater will be extremely grateful for Her Majesty to meet with them personally.”

The monarch is not the only member of the Royal Family to show compassion to the neighbours of their Balmoral Estate.

Prince Charles plans to open a diner in the town after getting planning permission earlier this year.

The Duke of Rothesay, as he is known in Scotland, is to bring his esteemed Highgrove brand to a pop-up restaurant and shop.

It is hoped that the new eatery’s Royal connections could give the Aberdeenshire village a much-needed tourism boost in the wake of the devastating winter storms.

The Prince had been spending the festive season nearby on Balmoral when the Dee burst its banks on December 30 and sent a torrent of destruction across the area.

He visited the village just a day after the flood waters receded and has since embarked on a fundraising drive to get local businesses back on their feet.

Now it is hoped that the conversion of a former Co-op store into the prestigious Rothesay Rooms could happen within weeks.

The application for the Rothesay Rooms was submitted through the prince’s Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust last month and has now been granted approval.

Half of the development is earmarked for the luxury Highgrove shop, modelled on the Prince’s English outlets.

The other half will contain a restaurant serving locally sourced British food for up to 40 covers, as well as creating jobs for villagers.

The restaurant is expected to run for two years.

The winter flooding was the second disaster to strike the rural village last year.

The Old Royal Station, where Queen Victoria would alight from the royal carriage on her annual visit to Balmoral, was lost in a devastating fire back in May.

Many thought the loss of the landmark building, combined with the flooding, may have sounded the death knell for the village as the local economy relies heavily on summer tourism.

However, villagers have pulled together in recent months in a bid to re-open key facilities such as the local butcher shop and the caravan park, where dozens of static units were wrecked or lost to the water.

The Old Royal Station is also set to rise from the ashes, with Aberdeenshire Council working on a rescue plan to restore it to its former glory.

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