Western Isles charity renovates byre to raise funds for work in Afghanistan

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The parents of aid worker Linda Norgrove have found a novel way of raising funds for the charity they established in their daughter’s memory.

Having spent years transforming a derelict byre into an upmarket holiday cottage for rent, they plan to use the income to cover the running costs of the Linda Norgrove Foundation, ensuring all money donated by supporters goes to projects in Afghanistan.

After creating some quirky budget accommodation on their croft using an old wheelhouse and successfully building a bothy at Mangersta – listed as the most romantic in Scotland – the couple decided to renovate the Timsgarry byre. The building had been unused for many years with part being used to house cows and another section a tweed weaving shed.

They were encouraged by the support they received in recent years from people using the bothy and wheelhouse who read about the charity and its work when they visited.

As well as donating more than £2,000 last year alone, visitors to the bothy have gone on to organise their own fundraising projects for the foundation, including a jazz concert in Heidelberg.

John Norgrove said: ‘We thought this would be a great way of covering the overhead costs of the foundation. We’re already pretty lean as charities go but we do have some outgoings – for example, to cover design and printing of our newsletters.

‘But we thought by using the holiday rental income to cover those costs people can be reassured their money is going directly to help women and young people in Afghanistan. And – who knows – maybe some of our visitors will be inspired to help the cause in other ways.

‘Our latest venture is very different from anything we’ve tackled previously as it’s very much aimed at the luxury end of the market. The feedback we’ve had from visitors so far has been great, so it’s worked well.’

The byre has an open-plan living/dining/kitchen area with a state of the art wetroom-style bathroom and a round tower bedroom with spectacular views across Ardroil beach to the hills beyond.

Linda Norgrove, originally from Uig on the Isle of Lewis, was kidnapped while working for a charity in Afghanistan where she was overseeing development projects. She died in a failed rescue attempt by US forces on October 8, 2010.

Her parents wanted Linda to be remembered for her contribution to life rather than her tragic death and established the foundation to help women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan. Since the foundation was established in 2010, it has distributed well over £1 million.