A 19th century cottage has been refurbished in a Moray village in an attempt to keep community life alive.
Garmouth has been without a shop since the last store served its last customer more than five years ago.
Stagecoach stopped running buses to the village shortly after and the hotel and pub closed its doors last year due to the impact of coronavirus.
Fearing the loss of venues available for community life, residents in Garmouth have banded together to create a new home for shared memories by the River Spey.
Shop closure inspired cottage conversion
The Garmouth and Kingston Amenities Association has long harboured hopes of opening its own community venue in the village.
When the former cottage, known as MacLean’s Buildings, went on the market the group identified it as perfect due to its central High Street location.
The venue is already home to the visiting post office while there are hopes it will soon be home to a meeting space for groups, an exhibition room and possible sales area for local traders.
About 1,500 volunteer hours were devoted to the two-year project to transform the building with many more donating material.
Group secretary Rob Wallen said: “The project actually started when the last village shop closed.
“At that time people realised that the shop was not just a shop, but it was part of the fabric of the village.
“People thought ‘let’s do something about it’, so we put together a business plan.”
Meanwhile, talks are already taking place about a potential community purchase of the Garmouth Hotel following its closure last year.
Praise for ‘community spirit’ in villages
Grants totalling about £71,000 have been secured from the project.
Meanwhile, the Amenities Association has also paid tribute to the support of the previous owners of the building, Robert and William Thompson.
A small opening event for the new hub was held at the weekend to mark the completion of the work with hopes it will soon be used by many groups once Covid restrictions allow.
Group chairman Roddy Robertson said: “The Amenities Association is very grateful for the funding we have received to make this project happen.
“The grants from the SSE Beatrice Partnership Fund, the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation and the Adam Family Foundation have enabled us to create an inviting, flexible energy efficient community venue that will provide opportunities for all sections of the community.”
Former chairwoman Marina McLennan said: “I think it is wonderful how many people in the villages of Garmouth and Kingston have given their time and their skills to support this project – it shows what a great community spirit there is in the two villages.”