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'Actions like these make Moray special': Moray businesses step up to support local communities amid Storm Arwen chaos

By Ewan Malcolm

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LOCAL communities and businesses in Moray have been thanked for their response to the disruption caused by Storm Arwen over the weekend.

From left; Melissa Cliff, Mabel Sinclair, Daniel Wall and Denise Morrison. The Red Lion Tavern was one of many hotels in Moray to open their doors to locals last weekend. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
From left; Melissa Cliff, Mabel Sinclair, Daniel Wall and Denise Morrison. The Red Lion Tavern was one of many hotels in Moray to open their doors to locals last weekend. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Locals were left without power in many areas and roads across the region were blocked by trees and debris as the adverse weather conditions took their toll.

Hotels across Moray opened their doors to provide free accommodation and hot food for those left without power across the region.

Edward Thomas, Moray Council's Emergency Response Co-ordinator, praised these efforts as communities across Moray contended with high winds and blizzards.

Mr Thomas said: "The communities who opened their doors, fridges and hearts to help others get through a difficult period without power or water, for some, deserve our gratitude.

"We saw offers of accommodation and community buildings put to good use as part of the relief effort, actions like these make Moray special."

Fochabers local Elaine Walker was one of many people in Moray left without power over the weekend. Ms Walker and her family appealed to the Red Lion Tavern in Fochabers for help and to her relief they took her in.

"We cannot thank all the staff enough for letting us in," Ms Walker said.

"We lost power at around 6pm on Friday and we tried to stick it out until Saturday morning but we eventually contacted the Red Lion to see if we could come in for breakfast.

"While eating our breakfast, the manager Denise gave us keys to two rooms to use free of charge until our power came back on.

"We also got a lovely free breakfast at their other hotel, The Gordon Arms. The local help has just been amazing."

Callum Russell, Operations Director for the Red Lion and Gordon Arms, said that the business "wanted to do everything they possibly could to help people in need" and reserved special praise for Red Lion Manager Denise Morrison and staff members Melissa Cliff and Daniel wall.

"They were absolute superstars," said Mr Russell.

"On Friday night we stayed open for a little bit later and we ended up having four or five of our rooms taken free of charge.

"Denise, Mel and Dan all came in on their free time as well to help serve breakfast so all credit to them."

The Red Lion and Gordon Arms were one of many local businesses in Moray providing support in their local communities over the weekend.

The Firth Hotel in Lossiemouth also set out to help after seeing many locals lose power. The business offered free hot drinks, access to hot showers and access to power outlets to charge phones. Staff members were also placed on standby ready to collect elderly people in the area looking for some warmth.

For Managing Director Mohamed Ali the decision to open their doors to the community was a simple one.

"We had to give back," Mr Ali said.

"I'm not from Lossie but they have always been so supportive of me.

"November has been a horrible month for us. It's always horrible for the hospitality businesses but we had to stick by the community.

"We just did whatever we could really."

Coffee and hot drinks were also made free for Police and NHS staff in an effort to "get them on their way as quickly as possible" according to Mr Ali.

"In times like these it's even more important for us to band together to step up and help the community out in any way we can," added Mr Ali.

The Red Lion and Firth Hotel were just two of many hotels that opened their doors to people in need over the weekend with businesses from Speyside to Duffus also offering support in their communities.

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