During the first 3 months of 2022 we were able to employ Joni Corbett to examine all our regulations and procedures at both The Sand Bothy and Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs, both in general terms and with particular attention to covid restrictions. This work enabled both projects to open up at the beginning of April.
In April we learned that we had been awarded sufficient funds by Supporting Communities Programme to employ Joni full time for 3 years. Her job is two-fold:
Firstly, to co-ordinate activities at The Sand Bothy – recruiting and training volunteers, supervising the refreshment kiosk, promoting the Bothy as a venue for classes and workshop, organising group activities and liaising with Balmedie School and children’s groups.
Secondly, to develop and support community activities across the parish, including consulting with local people.
We had a successful happy season at both The Sand Bothy and Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs. Highlights included an Easter Egg Hunt, Art Classes for older people from the parish and for Balmedie school children, a local history exhibition for Doors Open Days, and visits to the Country Park from day care projects and centres, assisted by our inclusive facilities.
The Potterton Burn Project was completed successfully and has developed into Potterton Volunteers, who are now maintaining the burn, trees, grass, paths and fences and planting wild flowers and bulbs. Although our volunteers were still very aware that COVID was still with us, things did feel a bit more normal!
Belhelvie Community Trust is proposing a community improvement project at Potterton to alleviate flooding. The Trust needs comments from the community about the proposed works. Comments can emailed to the Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org, please send the Trust your comments by Friday 20 August. (July 2021)
We have been raising funds to buy and install an inclusive swing next to The Sand Bothy. We had received donations from Arnold Clark, Aberdeen and District Cerebral Palsy Association and our own Just Giving page, then we heard today (21 July) from National Lottery that they will make it up to full amount! Great news, as the swing, along with our inclusive roundabout, will provide opportunities for fun for children of all abilities. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed. (July 2021)
The refurbishment of the disabled toilet at Balmedie Country Park, organised by Belhelvie Community Trust is now complete! The facilities include a ceiling hoist and adult size changing table and a wheelchair accessible sink. Access to the disabled toilet is the same as it has always been, with a RADAR key. The facility will be of particular help to disabled people who use Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs. Thanks go to our funders: Scottish Landfill Community Fund, Aberdeenshire Council and Ellon Academy Youth Philanthropy Team of 2019. Thanks go too to our builders Fitzbuild and special thanks to our architect George Douglas for his help and encouragement for the past 3 years! Even more thanks to the Henry family for their advice and inspiration. (June 2021)
We are happy to announce that the Sand Bothy kiosk will be open again on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 12 noon to 4pm from Saturday 24 April, and the Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs are opening again on Sundays 12 noon to 3pm from Sunday 25 April 2021. (April 2021)
We want to make Balmedie Country Park an inclusive play area for children of all abilities. We have already installed an inclusive roundabout which has had great feedback from the community, being used by both disabled and non disabled families. We want to install some inclusive swings, which would allow disabled children more opportunities to play at the park and feel included. You can donate through the Just Giving page. (March 2021)
We're very pleased to see the newly painted balustrades at The Sand Bothy, many thanks to volunteers Wishart and Andy for all their hard work. We now have a “take 4 for the shore” box next to notice board opposite play park. It is supplied and maintained by East Grampian Coastal partnership, and has litterpicks, bags and gloves for folk to take to the beach to help clean up. And finally, the Sand Bothy will be part of the Pumpkin Trail in aid of the NHS Endowment Fund in October. (September 2020)
We regret that due to covid19 North East Open Studios (NEOS) at the Sand Bothy has been cancelled. It was a difficult decision, but we had to weigh up all the issues involved, with our main concern the safety of our volunteers, exhibitors and visitors. Our our exhibitors (local NEOS artists) would still love to hear from you. Sarah Peacock (Facebook), Lee:Lie Jewellery (Facebook), Rachel Sinclair (Facebook), Lee Fowlie (Facebook) (September 2020)
After the uncertainty of the past months and closure of the Sand Bothy and Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs for this year, it's good to have some positive news to share! For the past couple of years, we have been raising funds and making plans to create a Changing Places facility at Balmedie Country Park for people with complex and multiple disabilities. For many people it will make a trip to Balmedie Country Park an option denied them in the past. We now have all the plans in place and enough money to go ahead, so we are hoping it will be finished by end of 2020! This project ties in with the development of the Sand Bothy and Beach Wheelchairs, where we aim to make our Country Park accessible to all. (August 2020)
We have raised enough money to replace the old roundabout in the Sand Bothy play park with a smart new inclusive one, so that children of all abilities, including those who use wheelchairs can play together. We are hoping that will be installed in time for October 2020 holidays. This project ties in with the development of the Sand Bothy and Beach Wheelchairs, where we aim to make our Country Park accessible to all. (August 2020)
Belhelvie Community Trust continues to operate during lockdown. We have decided that we will not be opening The Sand Bothy kiosk on 9 August as planned, but we do have new procedures and safety measures in place for when we do. Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs is also closed. The Sensory Garden is however always open for you to enjoy.
We are also waiting to hear when our other activities will progress: development of the sensory garden, improvements to the toilet block at Balmedie Country Park to provide better changing facilities for disabled people, and improvements to the play park there to install inclusive equipment. Our planned public consultation about community facilities was also put on hold, but this will go ahead when the time is right. (August 2020)
Belhelvie Community Trust is a very small charity but even little groups like us have the same responsibilities as much bigger organisations. In addition to the usual charity rules and regulations we have had to learn about the implications for us of a coronavirus pandemic. It has been difficult, as things have evolved and changed. Our priority throughout has been to protect our volunteers and our supporters. However, things are starting to happen again. We hope to open the Sand Bothy kiosk again on Sunday 9th August, with all necessary precautions in place. Our Sensory Garden has provided a focus for many families throughout lockdown, and we are now waiting for our contractors to complete work planned but postponed. We are hoping that some of the families who enjoyed the garden during lockdown will now get involved in its development. There are no plans yet to re-open Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs. The work of Belhelvie Community Trust is carried out by a small group of volunteers. We would love you to join us! if you can help in any way with The Sand Bothy, the Community Sensory Garden or Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs, please do get in touch and help us look to the future and better days! (July 2020)
So we could protect our volunteers and visitors during the coronavirus pandemic, The Sand Bothy was closed and we have missed out on all our income from kiosk sales and bookings, and had to cancel our Easter and summer fundraising Fun Days. Essential repairs at the beginning of the year used up our reserves. We are now appealing to our supporters and visitors to make a donation (crowd funder website) to the Bothy, so that we can re-open our facilities when permitted, in the knowledge that our running costs are covered at least for this year. (June 2020)
In agreement with the RNLI and Aberdeenshire Council's Ranger Service we have cancelled the Fun Day planned for 25 July 2020 at the Sand Bothy due to the current crisis. (May 2020)
With the ban on vehicles in Country Park at the moment we can't get down there as easily or as often as before. If you are walking to the Country Park and notice any problems with the Sand Bothy can you let Rosie Nicol from Belhelvie Community Trust know by messaging her on Facebook. Many thanks everyone!
The trustees of Community Trust, who are responsible for running The Sand Bothy and Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs have considered the implications of The Corona Virus Pandemic and decided that both projects should remain closed until further notice. So, we will not re-open The Sand Bothy or Balmedie Beach wheelchairs as planned on 4 and 5 April.
All this is regrettable, but we need to protect our community, our visitors and our volunteers, without whom these projects would not be possible, and do our bit to stop the spread of the virus.
We will keep you informed of further developments and we will post updates on Facebook and our websites. (March 2020)
Weeding morning at Sensory Garden (Balmedie) on Tuesday 3 March from 11am to 1pm (February 2020)
We want to hear from the younger members of our community, tell us which ideas you want to see the Community take forward and how you would use them. We are running the survey jointly with the Belhelvie Community Council. Find out more and vote. (February 2020)
We have discovered some wet rot in the decking on the west side of The Sand Bothy building. There's joinery work happening at the moment to make the necessary repairs and improvements. We hope to have the work completed in good time for the Bothy re-opening on 4 April. (February 2020)
The Sand Bothy will re-open on Saturday 4 April and Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs will start again on Sunday 5 April. (January 2020)
We are holding our AGM 7pm on Monday 27 January at Balmedie Library. Everyone is welcome to come along. (January 2020)
We're working with the Belhelvie Community Council on a youth survey. We're want everyone's ideas on what activities could be provided for younger people in the local area. Send us your ideas between Monday 13 January and Friday 31 January 2020. (January 2020)
As well as running our projects at The Sand Bothy and the Beach wheelchairs we continue to support other community groups. We secured funding from the Co-op for Better Balmedie whose members work all year round to keep the village looking good. The Co-op provided £270 in April 2019 to Better Balmedie and we expect a second payment shortly. We also applied to Formartine partnership this year for funds to replace barrel planters around Balmedie and were granted almost £1000. When we have funds available, we make donations to our community groups, this year we have supported the Belhelvie Community First Responders, Belhelvie Memorial Christmas tree, Balmedie Friendship Club and the Whitecarins community (paying for garden equipment so that the residents can maintain their communal land). (December 2019)
We are working with Aberdeenshire Council to make improvements to the disabled toilet at Balmedie Country Park. The existing cubicle is small, and there is no room for carers and families to safely or comfortably change a disabled person. Many people are put off coming to the Park because of lack of facilities. We have a changing table and hoist at Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs, but at present this is only available when the chairs are booked. We have employed an architect to draw up plans, spoken to builders and surveyors and obtained go ahead from Council. We are now raising funds so that we can make this happen, hopefully in the spring on 2020. (December 2019)
Just over a month to go... Santa will be at the Sand Bothy on Saturday 14 December & Sunday 15 December, 12 noon to 4pm. Gifts, stories, crafts, refreshment and a Christmas raffle. £5 per child. (November 2019)
Youth Philanthrophy Initiative winners!
Earlier this year a group of students from Ellon Academy approached us and asked if they could represent us in the YPI (Youth Philanthropy Initiative). If they were successful the prize would be £3,000! On 20 November we attended the finals in this years competition......... and WE WON! Congratulations to a wonderful team. It was a great, informative and entertaining presentation! We were so proud to be there to watch you win. Well done! See the photos on Facebook (November 2019)
We enjoy working with other local organisations and are particularly pleased to be involving the Belhelvie Community Council (BCC) in our activities, sharing knowledge, expertise and community involvement. (November 2019)
We have been working with Aberdeenshire Council to improve signage in Balmedie Country Park. We wrote and produced a leaflet with map which shows the 5 best access routes around the Park. Aberdeenshire Council’s landscape services have now procured and installed way markers and finger posts to match the 5 paths, so that visitors can find their way around more easily. (November 2019)
Stalls selling new and pre-owned jewellery, toiletries, stationary, stocking fillers, Sand Bothy calendars and refreshments. In aid of the Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs & disabled toilet refurbishment. (October 2019)
Our willow tunnel and dome will be constructed in November. Hundreds of Bluebell bulbs will be planted in November – can you help? Benches and all access tables will be ordered soon. They take time to be made to order, so we are looking to install them in the New Year, ahead of a busy year in the garden! Our plan then is to open the garden officially in the spring of 2020. In the meantime, please enjoy walking through the Magnificent 7s woods. Find out more on our Sensory Garden Facebook page. (October 2019)
This spring and summer we have been delighted that Balmedie School children have been making weekly use of the Bothy, part of their outdoor schooling, exploring beach and woods and using the Bothy as an extension to their classrooms. They have taken part in all sorts of activities on the beach, in the dunes, in the country park, learning about their local environment. They have written little books about Balmedie Beach, and written, sung and recorded songs about Beach and Bothy. The link between The Sand Bothy and our school is now strong, and we look forward to working out another schedule of visits in 2020. (October 2019)
Sand Bothy calendars - £6 each or 2 for £10
Get organised in 2020 with The Sand Bothy Calendar! The calendars feature photos of Balmedie Beach by Lee Fowlie, they have been designed by local artist Sarah Peacock and are sponsored by local businesses. All income goes to the Trust to help run or support local community projects.
Available to buy at: The Sand Bothy (Balmedie Country Park), Beachside Coffee shop (Balmedie), Fish and Chip shop (Balmedie) and Dickies Pharmacy (Balmedie). (September 2019)
Charity quiz night - Friday 20 September 2019
We are holding a quiz night at Forsyth Hall to raise funds for the Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs and the disabled toilet refurbishment. Friday 20 September 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm. Bring your own refreshments. £5 per person, £3 concessions.
UPDATE: We raised over £850 at the quiz, big, big thank you to everyone who helped run the event and everyone who took part! (September 2019)
Cycling at the Sand Bothy - Sunday 18 August 2019
Free, fun inclusive cycling session with adapted bikes and a chance to try out our beach wheelchairs, or bring your own bike! Sunday 18 August 10.30am - 4pm. Find out more on the Sand Bothy Facebook post (August 2019)
Fundraising for Changing Places toilet
We are currently raising funds for a Changing Places toilet at the Balmedie Country Park so that disabled people, their families and carers can enjoy our lovely beach. Find out more on our donate page (August 2019)
New Belhelvie Community Trust website
Find out about how we started, how to get involved, make a donation and all our projects on our new website (August 2019)
Fun Day at the Sand Bothy - Saturday 27 July 2019
Jointly organised by the RNLI and the Community Trust we are holding a family Fun Day at the Sand Bothy in the Balmedie Country Park (July 2019)
Barrats donate £1000
Our Balmedie Beach Wheelchair project has been awarded £1000 by the Barratt Community Fund (April 2019)
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Supporting groups, clubs and developing new projects in various parts of the parish since 2014