The Queen’s Balmoral estate will donate logs and vegetables to the needy in nearby Aberdeenshire communities over the festive season.
Pheasant and game from other estates on Royal Deeside will be delivered in care packages for up to 40 families as part of a support scheme helping the vulnerable in rural areas over Christmas.
People can become isolated and struggle financially during the long winter months, according to local councillors who have teamed up with gamekeepers, estate owners, charities and volunteers to supply food and fuel to those hit the hardest.
Tillypronie estate by Aboyne will supply pheasants, Balmoral is donating logs and vegetables, and Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association member Audrey Dykes has arranged for her shooting syndicate to provide fresh venison.
Recipes will be included in the packages for those unaccustomed to cooking with game.
Aberdeenshire councillor Geva Blackett said: “It may not always be so high profile but rural poverty is an issue of concern. People may be sitting at the top of remote glens, for example, and folk may be unaware about their concerns or what is going on with them.
“Some may be finding it hard to heat their houses in winter, let alone have the means to cook and eat good quality, fresh food.”
Contact was made with social services, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and local charities to identify those who would benefit most from the care packages.
It is hoped they will provide enough food for at least two meals over Christmas.
Ms Blackett, SNP councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, added: “It has been great working with people to see what can be done to help, and bringing it all together.
“It would be nice to think it could maybe make a small difference to an individual or a family in the festive season. When we got in touch with the estates there was no hesitation whatsoever, they said immediately they were happy to help.”
The councillor for Banchory and Mid Deeside, Linda Clark, also praised all those who offered their services.
She said: “Having worked myself in the voluntary services, I know there are financially vulnerable people who will find things tougher in winter.
“I commend everyone involved. We have also had people volunteering to assist with the deliveries. Whether recipients take up the offer is, of course, up to them. Hopefully though, if they do, it might mean they can spend the money they have on something else. As we know, Christmas can be an expensive time for all of us.”
Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral estate is the private residence of the Queen.
Beloved by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Balmoral Castle has remained a favourite residence for the Royal Family during the summer holiday period in August and September.
The Balmoral estate is a working concern which aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy. The grounds, gardens and ballroom are open to visitors.