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Young Scottish retail tycoon, Harris Aslam, wants to canvas the opinion of local residents on what the future should hold for the former Glencoe home of the late shamed DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile, after his family recently bought the property.
Mr Aslam is director of Fife-based Scottish convenience store operator Eros Retail – launched when he was 18 with his brother in 2014 – and which is part of the family’s Glenshire group of companies with interests spanning multiple sectors including hospitality, property, cleaning hygiene and business supplies, online and frozen drinks (Skwishee).
Mr Aslam’s family have been in the retail industry for about 40 years and Eros Retail now owns stores across Scotland.
A former Retailer of the Year, Mr Aslam, together with his cousin and business partner, Raza Rehman, and other family members, have bought the two-bedroom Allt-na-Reigh, which sits beside the A82, from an Edinburgh builder for a sum reported to be £335,000.
Mr Aslam, who is still in his early 20s, told the Lochaber Times this week he knows the area well, having enjoyed hillwalking nearby, and wants to turn the property into a family home.
However, recognising the property’s dark past due to its link with sex abuser Savile, he says he would like to do something positive such as create a lasting memorial of some sort to another previous owner, the late great mountaineering pioneer Hamish MacInnes, who died last year.
‘We acquired the property with a view to turning it into a family home – it’s a very beautiful location. I am aware of its history but think something positive can be done with it,’ Mr Aslam told us.
‘We’re looking at various options at the moment that could possibly involve some kind of permanent tribute to Hamish MacInnes, which would be fantastic.
‘It is such an amazing location but we also want to know what local people think. Over the years it’s been subjected to a lot of vandalism and people are always breaking in.
‘We’d like to do something the local community could support so that everyone can be collectively proud of the end result.’
To find out what locals and others think, Mr Aslam is proposing to host an online public consultation on Tuesday (September 7).
‘I don’t think you can always please everybody,’ he added. ‘But I think we can do something many people would hopefully be on board with.’
On the links with MacInnes, Mr Aslam said it was believed the famous mountaineer had invented his revolutionary MacInnes stretcher and ice axe in the outbuilding at the property.
‘It really appeals to me to be able to provide some kind of tribute or memorial to Hamish MacInnes. We’re not sure of what that might actually look like or what form it would take, but it’s something that I’d love to be able to do.
‘Yes the property does have a dark history – but only for a certain period. I think we can do something really positive with it and I’d like to hear what people think.’
Tuesday’s online public consultation starts at 6pm and any members of the local community or organisations keen to attend, should email Kim@glenshire.co.uk for an invite.