Yesterday evening, Don Coutts shared his dream of transforming the derelict Townlands Barn into a 'sanctuary' with residential accommodation and community space for townsfolk to spend their last years.
After a disheartening experience trying to finding a suitable care home for his mother, he wants to create in Cromarty "the best old folks' space in the world": a healing and life-affirming environment with 15 bedsits, herb garden, coffee bar, library and cinema — in Don's words "a home and not an institution".
Although the project is in the very early stages, Don is committed to sharing his ideas with the community so that local residents can contribute to the planning process. He is gathering together a team of advisors, looking at sources of finance and hoping to get a start-up grant from Firstport to fund the preparation of a business model.
The creation of 'The Townlands Sanctuary' from the ruins of a 300 year-old, A-listed laird's house is not for the faint-hearted, but Don Coutts is not afraid to dream big dreams.