THE owners of an East Lothian estate that was celebrated by Rabbie Burns are targeting a big increase in wedding bookings after securing around £780,000 funding from Bank of Scotland.

Simon and Joyce Usher will use some of the money to add a 200-capacity pavilion to the facilities at Dunglass Estate in Cockburnspath, which features a fifteenth century church and sea views.

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Described by Burns as “the most romantic sweet place” he’d ever seen following a visit in 1787, the estate has operated as a wedding venue since 2009.

The new pavilion is expected to help Dunglass Estate double the annual number of wedding bookings it takes, to 60 in 2021. It will have underfloor heating and be suitable for us all year round.

“Estates can’t just rely on agriculture anymore, they must try and diversify and help to support the rural economy,” said the estate’s owner Simon Usher, whose family won renown in the brewing and distilling industries in Victorian Edinburgh.

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He added: “This sort of expansion is worlds away from when we first started a decade ago. It was just myself and Joyce juggling a new business with two small children and covering a multitude of tasks.

We only held six weddings in our first year.”

The £777,000 funding package provided by Bank of Scotland will also be used to support investment in guest accommodation on Dunglass Estate.

Bank of Scotland relationship manager Daniel Burns said the wedding sector is booming in Scotland.

“With more than 27,000 ceremonies taking place last year, Simon and Joyce’s decision to expand their business could not have come at a better time,” he noted.