The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is backing ambitious plans to upgrade a north-east hospital.
Right Rev Dr Russell Barr is visiting Insch Hospital next Wednesday to meet campaigners who have so far raised around £400,000 to either upgrade or replace the facility.
Locally, the Church of Scotland is fully behind the project.
Dr Barr is preaching at Inverurie St Andrew’s Church on April 30 and money donated by the congregation will be given to the hospital project fund.
Rev Euan Glen, clerk to the Gordon Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, said: “We would like to support and encourage the Friends of Insch Hospital and Community in their challenging task of raising funds for the replacement or upgrading of Insch Memorial Cottage Hospital.
“At a time when many organisations, including the church, is focusing its work in the centralising of facilities, it is good to see a community working hard to maintain a hospital in their rural community.
“The task they have is mammoth but they have worked hard to raise almost £400,000 and we commend them for their efforts.
“We will add a small amount to this with a retiring offering at a Presbytery service at Inverurie St Andrew’s where the Moderator will present long service certificates to a wide range of folk dedicated to the work of the church.”
Dr Barr and his wife Margaret are embarking on an eight-day visit to the Presbytery of Gordon area on Saturday, April 22.
The programme, which involves visiting churches and meeting members, is wide and varied.
Highlights include a visit to Balmedie Nursing Home, which is run by the Kirk’s social care arm CrossReach, and tours round Brewdog’s brewery in Ellon and Deans Shortbread factory in Huntly.
Dr Barr will visit Alford Community Campus, Thainstone Mart, an oil services firm in Westhill, Inverurie Police Station and visit Monymusk Church, which is celebrating its 850th anniversary this year.
He will also play a round of golf at Kemnay to raise funds for CrossReach and climb Bennachie.
Dr Barr, who had high hopes of being a professional golfer in his youth before entering the ministry, said: “As well as visiting congregations and meeting colleagues, I am looking forward to engaging with people from the wider community, including the business sector, and learning about some of the opportunities and challenges they are facing.”