Princess Anne has landed by helicopter in Forres to pay tribute to Covid heroes, key workers and volunteers in Moray.
An army of people from the NHS, Moray Council charities and other agencies have pitched in to support the region’s most vulnerable during the pandemic.
The Princess Royal discussed the issues facing the north-east during a function in the historic courtroom in the Tolbooth.
‘A way of thanking people for their hard work’
Princess Anne landed in Grant Park by helicopter before making the journey along Forres High Street.
A small crowd gathered to watch the aircraft complete its descent into the natural amphitheatre at the foot of Cluny Hill.
It was the third attempt at organising the visit with previous attempts thwarted due to Covid case numbers.
Forres councillor George Alexander, who is chairman of Forres Heritage Trust, the custodians of the Tolbooth, said: “The lord lieutenant has been trying to organise it for almost a year now, but it’s never been possible.
“He wanted to use the courtroom to introduce some of the community workers, health workers and everyone who has played an important part in the pandemic.
“I think it’s just a way of thanking people, acknowledging them for the hard work they have done.”
The Tolbooth itself has undergone major refurbishments in recent years with hopes the public will be able to access a walkway surrounding the clock tower early next year.
Hard work of pandemic will continue in Forres
The Princess Royal met with volunteers and key workers for about an hour before leaving – stopping to share a joke with a busker singing Flower of Scotland outside as she departed.
Charities Moray Food Plus, Project Wingman, Forres in Bloom, Moray School Bank were represented inside alongside the NHS and Moray Council.
Lorna Creswell, a Forres councillor and chairwoman of Moray Firth Credit Union, received a British Empire Medal this year to pay tribute to her lifetime of volunteering.
She said: “We were in at the credit union every day during the pandemic to offer financial assistance.
“Nobody knew what to expect to support people through this. People were furloughed, they’d lost their jobs, couldn’t fill out forms, were home-schooling – it was really quite challenging.”
Forres Town Hall became a focal point in the community for coordinating projects to reach out to residents needing help.
Debbie Herron, development manager of Forres Area Community Trust, who own the building, revealed their food project had delivered more than 1,200 meals.
She said: “We also did things like support the Osprey Bus with prescriptions runs for people, shopping runs and helping get access to heating and lighting.
“We worked with other groups like TSI Moray, Moray Food Plus and Moray Firth Credit Union to share resources.
“We’ve just reopened the Town Hall again to the public with lunch clubs, which will really continue the befriending projects we’ve done during the pandemic.”
Moray Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, said: “t has been wonderful the way that the people of Moray have come together to help each other.
“So I am particularly pleased that Her Royal Highness met a representative group of those who have been at the heart of these endeavours such as councillors, representatives of key charities such as Moray Food Plus and Project Wingman, a head teacher and a police constable.”