A HIGHLY organised army of volunteers has mobilised in a Scottish town to help feed its vulnerable community.

Days before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued her call to arms for people to step forward and help in their areas amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Feldy-Roo were already on the march.

Gavin Price, who runs The Fountain bar in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, and is also the boss of Scottish Professional Football League Two side Elgin City, didn’t know what he and his staff were going to do when they had to close their doors. Originally they thought they could hand out the surplus stock they had and made a few meals. That idea has now grown into a community concern involving 40 volunteers and reaching around 100 elderly people who are in isolation.

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As well as making sure there is a breakfast and evening meal supplied, some of our Herald readers are even getting their paper brought to them in the morning.

“We initially started looking at what we could do about 11 or 12 days ago, before the lockdown,” said Mr Price.

“When we knew the pub would have to close we had some left over stock which we decided to use to make up meals. From there people offered their help and before we knew it we had a team of volunteers. It ranged from people making breakfasts and delivering a morning paper to making evening meal deliveries.

“We decided to call ourselves Feldy-Roo and people just wanted to get involved. Other businesses came on board. Aberfeldy Watermill has been catering for breakfast and the local Co-Op has been giving a free paper and some basic food items.

“Evening meals have been supplied by local restaurants Thyme to Eat at Errichel Cottages, Chillies and the Three Lemons. There was even a miniature whisky handed out at the weekend courtesy of Aberfeldy Distillery.”

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They have a team of volunteer drivers who head out to make the deliveries.

Mr Price added: “Naturally we are having to do this practising social distancing. Our drivers have been leaving the items at the door, ringing the bell and then standing back.

“It means they can speak to the person at a safe distance and it is another way of checking on people to make sure they are ok. The feedback has been that people really appreciate what we are doing. Sometimes the deliveries that are being made involve using two cars as we can’t have people together who are not in the same household. We have also had to adapt how we have been doing things as further restrictions were put in place.”

Mr Price has said he has been amazed and humbled by what has been achieved so far.

He added: “It really is astonishing what a small town can do and pull together in such times. People have been wanting to donate, offer help, and it all very humbling.”

A crowdfunding page on Go Fund Me has now raised more than £11,000 and the group also secured a £5,000 grant from the Highland Action Partnership.

As the project grew they diverted the skills set of some of the volunteers into certain areas of expertise.

Sam Leighton has been leading the fundraising effort.

She said: “I phoned up Gavin to make a donation and then ended up setting up a Go Fund Me page and getting involved. and my husband has become a volunteer driver making deliveries.

“People have been so generous locally. We have had businesses donating, relatives of the people we are trying to help have donated on their behalf. It is such unprecedented times and people are being so supportive. We raised £10,000 in just three days. Even people overseas have donated to help family here. I must say some of the messages of support of have been very emotional and have reduced me to tears on occasion already. Everyone has been so caring and full of community spirit. It has been quite astounding.”

The group was keen to keep the momentum going and help the community for as long as they could.

“We have no idea how long this situation will last and we want to be able continue to help people. We applied for a grant from Highland Action partnership and it came through very quickly.

"If any other groups are thinking about how they go about things they should try their local council or community council for starters. There maybe ways of accessing grants which would help them. It is all about making sure people are safe and making sure they are getting the help they need.”