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Rotary Club of Forres report spate of vandalism at Helge's Hole, Cluny Hill, Forres

By Garry McCartney

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Rotarians Fraser MacGillivray and Stewart Murray at Helge's Hole.
Rotarians Fraser MacGillivray and Stewart Murray at Helge's Hole.

VOLUNTEERS who look after a local beauty spot are asking some of its visitors to stop vandalising it.

Rotary Club of Forres has been tending to Helge’s Hole (formerly Hell’s Hole) at the centre of Cluny Hill since 2015, installing picnic tables and barbecues in 2018 with funding from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme – however, in the last few weeks the Rotarians have been tidying up more than ever, following weekend gatherings that have destroyed flowers, killed trees, snapped off branches for bonfires, as well as dumped bottles and cans.

One of the dead trees.
One of the dead trees.

Rotary social representative Fraser Macgillivray wants the groups to have more consideration for the wildlife and other visitors.

He said: “We’ve noticed considerable damage, for example, a barbecue stand being regularly dug out and removed. It was recently replaced and put in solidly but taken out, so will have to be cemented in again.

“I’m concerned the culprits could set fire to the wider area.”

A barbecue stand has been repeatedly pulled from the ground.
A barbecue stand has been repeatedly pulled from the ground.

He added: “The area appears to be used for drinking. We’ve no objection to people using it for leisure, but they should remove their litter. Instead of taking bottles home, they have been breaking them up and leaving the glass shards all over the place.”

Helge’s Hole was planted out by gardener Donnie Williamson in the 1990s – he looked after it until he was too ill to carry on. The area is still regularly used for local school visits.

However, Rotary Club secretary, Sheena Macgillivray, is disappointed to see more recent treatment of the site.

She said: “It’s so disappointing to see this vandalism in such a special spot. Helge’s Hole now appears to be a place youngsters use to drink and light fires.”

The remnants of a bonfire.
The remnants of a bonfire.

Forres Rotary has reported the incidents to the police.

A police spokesperson replied: “You need to contact the council regarding this matter, as it would be them who would have things in place to try and prevent these types of things happening.”

Local authority community support officer Sylvia Jamieson has Rotary Club of Forres to a meeting on Wednesday of Forres Green Spaces User Group to discuss a solution to the problem.

Rotary president Tanya McLaren confirmed the volunteers are considering whether or not to use charity money for other planned improvements at the site if vandals continue to smash it up.

She said: “Some just can’t enjoy the area without attempting to destroy it. Don’t they realise they are spoiling it for everyone?

“Volunteers put in a lot of hard work into maintaining Helge’s Hole, so I appeal to the public: if you’re walking in the area, please keep an eye out for anything suspicious and inform the police if you see vandalism being committed.”

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