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The owner of an Inveraray equine and outdoor activity centre is looking for customers’ help as lockdown bites.
It’s fair to say Andy Cameron could have had an easier start to running Argyll Adventure.
The business has operated at Dalchenna Farm for two decades in its current format and 34-year-old Andy took over the reins at the end of 2018.
Argyll Adventure’s bread and butter is horse riding – trekking through the hills above Loch Fyne. It also boasts the only covered riding arena in Argyll and is the only official Pony Club centre in the area.
Other activities include paintball, laser and crossbow – the latter two under cover, which is useful in Argyll.
The pony trekking draws customers from across the globe, while Andy has been busy building relationships with people closer to home, including Argyll businesses for staff days, MAYDS in Lochgilphead, the council and health service providers.
Andy explained: ‘We have seen the Pony Club membership double and, for the first time in years, the centre is seeing a return of customers from Inveraray.’
And, during Mental Health Awareness Week, he is keen to stress Argyll Adventure`s role, saying: ‘We take pride in running days for children and adults with learning, physical or social needs.
‘My first full season was 2019 and it was an amazing start weather and customer wise,’ explained Andy. ‘Then it started raining one day in May and forgot to stop!’
It was a case of looking forward to 2020 – then coronavirus arrived.
Andy said: ‘We came out of five winter months with next to no income, have had zero income for nearly three months now and could face another winter before seeing any form of revenue.
‘We can’t just lock the door, wait and dust off stock ready for sale when we re-open. We can’t furlough the team and we can’t ask the horses to keep themselves fed, watered, bedded and exercised.’
The business has already stripped back non-essential outgoings and taken other measures, but still needs to find around £3,500 per month.
Having applied for all available grant funding, Argyll Adventure has now gone down the crowdfunding route and set up a Just Giving page: ‘We’re raising £10,000 to Save Argyll Adventure‘.
Gift vouchers are also available to buy via the Argyll Adventure website and customers will have two years to use them.
Andy says he has been ‘blown away’ by people’s generosity.
‘Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far. Special thanks to PC Laura Evans of Dunoon, a former livery client who over ordered on her new arena surface and donated it to us. And to Dalmally contractor Duncan MacDougall for free use of his trailer to collect the surface and a week’s free hire of his digger to help lay the surface along with other jobs around the farm.
‘With the support of our customers we will make it through this unprecedented time and continue to grow the business in the manner we have started and be here for the community of Argyll for years to come.’