A YOUNG man who lost his eyesight two years ago has become one of the first beneficiaries of a long-forgotten fund.
The award from William Lawtie’s Mortification – which was established in the 17th century – has enabled Bruce Cruickshank (29) to buy a computer which he hopes will open up a range of employment opportunities.
The former heavy plant driver was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a child, and his blindness has been caused by the condition. He has also had a kidney and pancreas transplant.
Bruce, who lives with his wife, Stephanie, a dental nurse, at Lintmill, near Cullen, said he was grateful to the trustees for the £500 award from the fund, which is administered by Moray Council.
It dates from 1657, when local man William Lawtie died and left money for the poor and needy of Cullen and Lintmill.
He asked that a friend administer the fund, and thereafter that it be taken on by a descendant in each succeeding generation with the surname Lawtie.
The role of trustee for what became known as ‘William Lawtie’s Mortification’ later fell to successive Cullen town clerks, and more recently, to Moray councillors.
The fund, which now amounts to about £160,000, lay dormant for well over a decade until this year, when the local authority invited applications from individuals or groups with a legitimate claim.
Posters were distributed in and around Cullen to help publicise the appeal and urge applicants who believed they met the necessary criteria to contact the council’s legal department.
Bruce, who was forced to give up work two and a half years ago, admitted that he had never heard of William Lawtie’s Mortification until the appeal for applications was brought to his attention by a neighbour.
"Stephanie had a laptop which was 10 years old and had seen better days, and with just one wage coming into the house, we would not have been able to afford a computer without the money from the fund," he said.
"I am doing a computer course, and it is beginning to open up a whole new world for me.
"Ideally I would like to retrain and get back into work of some sort."
Local councillor Ron Shepherd, who is one of the fund trustees, said he was delighted that some of William Lawtie’s bequest had gone to such a deserving cause.
Last week, councillors agreed to overhaul trust funds they are in charge of, which are worth around £4 million in total.
It costs more to administer many of the 131 funds than the amounts they hold.
Elected members approved plans to wind up some of the funds and agreed to reorganise and reduce the number of others.