Pioneering bed plant for the disabled bounces back after closure

BLIND and disabled workers sacked when a bed manufacturers closed last year were celebrating yesterday as it was officially reopened.

A total of 52 employees at Glencraft in Aberdeen lost their jobs when it went into liquidation in November, ending a 156-year history of providing employment to the city's disabled and visually impaired.

But the factory, which makes custom-built beds, reopened after a rescue package was put together by the Scottish Government, Aberdeen City Council and the oil company Production Services Network (PSN).

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It was reopened yesterday by First Minister Alex Salmond. It will now operate as a social enterprise, with its profits reinvested in the company, renamed

Glencraft (Aberdeen) Ltd. It has 40 staff, 35 of whom worked for the original firm.

Mr Salmond also launched an appeal to raise 500,000 to secure new premises.

He said: "The closure of the factory before Christmas was a terrible blow to staff and a great loss to the entire community. It's extremely encouraging to see that most of the former employees have been offered jobs and that 35 people have accepted."

Lisa Duncan, who worked for Glencraft for more than two years before the closure, has been appointed general manager. She said: "We are thrilled this day has finally arrived. It's taken many months of hard work behind the scenes to achieve what we have."

Colin and Helen Middler, a visually impaired couple who met at Glencraft, were devastated by the closure. Mr Middler, 44, said: "I had been working my whole life, from the age of 17. Then all of a sudden I didn't have a job to go to in the mornings.

"The 13th of November last year was the worst day of my life, it was a disaster. We thought our worlds had ended. But today is the best day ever, like winning the lottery, only better. "