Crathie Opportunity Holidays (COH) is proud to congratulate its founder and first secretary, Christine Sloan, on the award of MBE for her services to people with disabilities and tourism at Crathie.

Her initiative, vision, and determination made possible the transformation of the ruinous Crathie Manse Stables into a high-quality holiday facility for disabled people and their families and carers.

Current Chairman of Crathie Opportunity Holidays, Lesley Davidson said, “The Board, staff and local volunteers and above all our visitors will be so pleased with this honour. Without Christine Sloan’s efforts and leadership, this wonderful project would never have come to fruition or have succeeded so well”.

Christine Sloan is very keen to emphasise the role of the local community in the success of the project.

Visiting The Manse Courtyard again this weekend, Christine Sloan said, “I was surprised to be honoured in this way for what is an amazing achievement for the local Deeside community. I think this honour is as much for the local people who have given so much support and encouragement to the project. I am delighted to see that Crathie Opportunity Holidays is flourishing and continuing to provide wonderful holiday experiences for our guests of all abilities.”

Christine Sloan has been awarded the MBE as the founder of Crathie Opportunity Holidays (COH) for her services to people with disabilities and to tourism.

She was the initiator and driving force behind the project to restore the redundant and neglected Crathie Manse Stables to provide holiday accommodation for people with a wide range of disabilities and their families.

The Manse Stables were built over 200 years ago in solid granite but had been sorely neglected with broken doors and windows, sagging roofs and overgrowth of weeds. Their beautiful situation on the north bank of the River Dee, opposite Balmoral prompted Christine’s vision of a holiday facility to provide accommodation for people with disabilities, their carers and families.

With the support of Crathie Parish behind her, the Church of Scotland agreed to the new use and there followed 4 years of intensive work to prepare a business plan and obtain funds for the new project. At the fourth attempt major grant funding from the Lottery was granted but required very substantial match funding to be raised locally.

Christine Sloan led the way in fundraising and enlisting the support of local volunteers and organisations. The target for match funding was met result as a result of local generosity stimulated by the determined efforts of Christine and her team of volunteers, grants from various other sources, and a significant gift from the late Margaret Boyd of Braemar. This enabled building work and the substantial task of installing specialist facilities and equipment to begin in 2001.

The refurbished Courtyard opened its doors to visitors in 2002. Since then it has welcomed over 820 people with disabilities who, along with their friends and family, have enjoyed over 1,990 holidays in the four specially adapted cottages. They have been sensitively restored externally to retain many of the original features of the stables.

Internally they have been designed so that there should be no barriers to occupancy by people with disabilities. An extensive range of fixtures and free-standing aids enable guests to experience their holiday with confidence. Surrounded by an extensive, fenced play area and with the protection of a security gate this facility really is ideal for families with disabled people. The manager, Maggie Mackay, and her staff supported by local volunteers provide advice and assistance to visitors and maintain the high standards of the accommodation and its facilities.

The high quality of accommodation, environment and service provided by COH has been recognised with a sequence of awards including VisitScotland’s prestigious Thistle Award. Many improvements have been made with the support of specialist organisations and feedback from visitors.

Christine is the wife of Rev Robert Sloan who was Minister of Crathie and Braemar parish. She lived in Crathie Manse from 1996 until 2005 but continues as a supporter and friend of COH. Although Rev Sloan formally retired as a Minister 2005, he has continued to be active frequently preaching and leading worship to support Ministers and congregations. The Sloans currently live in Perth.