OREANDA-NEWS. Lifeline services were amongst the big winners as nine projects received GBP 130,858 in the latest round of grants from the SSE Griffin and Calliachar wind farm community fund.

Successful applications included a GBP 60,000 donation to Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance towards continuation of their essential life-saving service. From their base at Perth Airport, the charity's specially equipped aircraft can reach 90% of Scotland's population within 25 minutes. Since it began flying in May 2013 it has attended over 250 emergency callouts, including many life-saving missions in the Highland Perthshire area.

Sally Cameron, Head of Fundraising with Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance said the donation was “a marvellous boost” to the charity's frontline running costs. Sally said: ”Our life-saving service is here to respond to all emergencies - particularly in remote and inaccessible areas of Scotland where our helicopter can assist time critical emergencies and we are hugely grateful for the fund's support."

Community resilience on a smaller, but no less vital, scale was supported with a GBP 8,500 grant to the South Loch Tay First Responders Group for the purchase of life-saving equipment. The award will extend the reach of the group, which is backed by the Scottish Ambulance Service, across the Kenmore area and will see community defibrillators installed at the Ardeonaig and Kenmore Hotels, The Courtyard in Kenmore and Highland Safaris near Dull.

In other awards, Breadalbane Canoe Club received GBP 29,500 towards the purchase of new equipment, GBP 15,000 was granted for the resurfacing of Amulree Village Hall car park and funding of GBP 4,318 was allocated to a school leaver employability programme at Breadalbane Academy.

Helen Doig of the Perth and Kinross Business Community Support Group, which runs the employability programme, said: “Over the last three years pupils from Breadalbane Academy have successfully completed their SQA Awards and have increased their skills and awareness. Feedback from participants has confirmed that the pupils who have benefited have been at risk of long term unemployment.

“By attending this programme and gaining a positive destination they are now able to contribute to the local community and economy. We couldn't have helped and supported so many young people without this vital funding from the SSE Griffin and Calliachar Fund.”

The wind farm fund, provided by SSE, has an annual value of approximately GBP 400,000 for community and charitable projects in Aberfeldy, Dull and Weem, Dunkeld and Birnam, Kenmore and District, and Mid Atholl Strathtay and Grandtully. Over the 25 year lifespan of the two wind farms, at least GBP 15 million will be invested in the benefit area. Decisions on how the money is allocated are made by an independent panel of local people.

Susan Scobie, SSE Community Investment Advisor, said: “It's really encouraging to see that, as well as supporting a range of community projects; our funding can also support vital lifeline services such as the Air Ambulance and community resilience groups.

”With an annual value of over GBP 400,000, the fund has the ability to make a big difference in the Highland Perthshire area and I would encourage any community groups who require support, either for a new initiative or an existing project, to get in touch.”

The next round of awards from the fund will be announced in June. The closing date for applications to the autumn 2014 funding round is 27 June, with award decisions made in September.