World Horse Welfare’s Digger, Whisky, Disney, Skye and all their friends are celebrating Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre’s latest accolade – winning ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ at the Aberdeen & Shire Tourism Awards.
Belwade Farm Rescue & Rehoming Centre, based near Aboyne, on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, was part of the winning line-up that recognises the ‘best of the best’ tourism businesses of all sizes throughout Aberdeen City and Shire. By winning, Belwade Farm demonstrated to the judges that it delivers exceptional customer service and the centre certainly added diversity to the list of winners, which included hotels, camp sites and local festivals.
Centre manager Eileen Gillen, who has been with World Horse Welfare for nearly 25 years and helped establish Belwade Farm and oversee the development of its recently expanded facilities, was honoured to receive the award which she said the team truly deserved:
“Our primary focus is on the rehabilitation and rehoming of the horses and we are always delighted to welcome visitors who are keen to come and see the work that we do. The entire team, ably led by our centre promotions officer, Lisa Gardiner, has worked hard to make the farm a very interesting, engaging and above all welcoming place to visit and we couldn’t be more honoured to receive this recognition against such stiff competition.”
As well as having the opportunity to meet the horses, including national celebrity 19.1hh Clydesdale World Horse Welfare Digger, there is plenty to see and do at the centre. Belwade Farm overlooks the breath-taking countryside of Royal Deeside and the nature walks take visitors past dry stone wall-edged rolling paddocks where its 65 horses, ponies and donkeys happily graze, through beautiful woodland and along the River Dee. On a clear day Lochnagar can be seen in the distance and with its stylish conference centre and megalithic stone circle, Belwade Farm is a picturesque spot for weddings, family celebrations and anniversary parties offering so many wonderful photo opportunities.
In 2012 the charity’s President Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal opened the fantastic new indoor arena and Visitors Centre. The long-awaited indoor arena allows the dedicated grooms to carry out rehabilitation with horses and ponies even in Aboyne’s harshest winters with a viewing platform and even a gallery view from its renowned bistro so visitors can feel involved.
Charity Chief Executive Roly Owers explained why this award was such an important landmark for Scotland’s most vulnerable horses saying: “Our centres play a vital role in giving horses in desperate need a second chance. The Belwade team work 365-days-a-year doing a difficult and demanding job but will always greet visitors with warm smiles. “This plays such an invaluable role as we strive to raise the profile of the plight of vulnerable horses in Scotland, across the UK and around the world. The team at Belwade thoroughly deserve this award and I would encourage everyone to visit this real jewel in the Royal Deeside countryside.”
Since the launch of the new Visitors Centre the number of tourists passing through the gates of Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre – which has grown to become the largest receiving Centre in Scotland for equine cases subjected to neglect, cruelty and ignorance in all areas of the horse world – has trebled to more than 14,000. The charity’s aim is to rehabilitate and rehome horses coming into the Centre and with it regularly running to maximum capacity there are around 65 horses undergoing rehabilitation at any one time.
Set in the most idyllic Scottish countryside and with recent improvements to the Visitors Centre the events programme really is the best in the region with fantastic entertainment and menus featuring delicious local produce.
Belwade Farm is open from 11am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday throughout the year. In addition to public opening times group visits are also welcome by appointment and are tailored to meet specific requirements. For more information call Lisa on 01339 885398.
Or visit the national website: www.worldhorsewelfare.org