By Scott Wright

A SCOTTISH businessman whose company supplies catering to Historic Scotland attractions has been revealed as the mystery benefactor who ensured that the home of the late sculptor Tim Stead could be saved for the nation.

Alastair Storey, chairman of BaxterStorey, made a crucial donation of £250,000 that allowed the Tim Stead Trust to purchase the house in the village of Blainslie, near Lauder, in the Scottish Borders.

Mr Storey was motivated to contribute after becoming aware of Mr Stead’s work while he was studying hospitality and catering management at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Mr Stead, who died in 2000, sculpted the wooden furniture for renowned Glasgow seafood restaurant Café Gandolfi, which remains an attraction of the venue to this day. Other famous work includes a chair sculpted for Pope John Paul II for his visit to Scotland in 1982.

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The intervention of Mr Storey, whose firm supplies catering to visitor facilities at Stirling Castle and Skara Brae on Orkney, proved crucial to attempts by the Tim Stead Trust to purchase the late artist’s home from his widow Maggy, and prevent it from being put on the open market. His £250,000 donation, made on the basis that the Trust could match-fund his contribution, has allowed the house to be bought for £450,000. An additional £50,000, some of which was raised via a to-up crowdfunding campaign, will be invested in crucial repairs.

However, the fund-raising will continue, as the trust bids to turn The Steading into a creative hub.

Nichola Fletcher, who chairs the board of trustees, said Mr Storey “threw down this gauntlet by saying, here’s potentially £250,000, but it is only there if you can raise the rest of it!”

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“So, we have been going hell for leather,” she added, revealing that donations had been made by the William Grant & Sons Foundation, and Edinburgh-based investment house Baillie Gifford.

As well as welcoming people to visit the building, described as a shrine to Mr Stead’s work, Ms Fletcher said the trust plans to turn The Steading into an educational centre, where people can come to learn traditional skills such as sculpting.

“We hope to turn it a centre of wood culture,” Ms Fletcher said, adding that the ambition is to offer courses in everything from basic furniture making to education for those looking to work with wood in a more professional away.

The trust hopes to work in association with colleges, furniture makers and organisations such as the Borders Forest Trust.

Ms Fletcher hopes The Steading will become a place where people can come to “think outside the box”, whether they are artists, furniture designers, writers or musicians. “That is what Tim Stead was all about,” she said. “This is all about the Tim Stead legacy.”