Balmore Coach House is one in a million

BALMORE Coach House re-opening after refurb and just reached �1million donations. John Riches with volunteer Sheila Bain'Photo Emma Mitchell'2/2/13

BALMORE Coach House re-opening after refurb and just reached �1million donations. John Riches with volunteer Sheila Bain'Photo Emma Mitchell'2/2/13

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THE Balmore Coach House celebrates raising a million pounds worth of grants for fair trade projects at home and abroad this week.

Since 1980 the Coach House, which sells handcrafted fair trade goods imported from all over the world, has donated all its profits to the Balmore Trust.

As well as raising £1million the shop has also provided huge support for smallholder farmers and producers in developing countries through its sales and imports of fair trade goods.

Balmore Coach House and Trust was set up by 15 friends from Baldernock Parish Church, including the current chairman John Riches, in the winter of 1979/80.

John Riches said: “We would never have dreamt that 33 years later we would be celebrating a million pounds in grants.

“The first donations were for a Glasgow holiday scheme and some Basutho ponies for doctors in a hospital in Lesotho, Africa.

“The work has grown to embrace long term support for East Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid, Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse and other youth projects at home, and hospitals, schools and water aid in Africa and Asia.”

Projects supported always have a local link, even if based abroad.

A Burmese student at Glasgow University asked for help with setting up a school in north west Burma, one of the remotest and poorest parts of the world.

The Trust was able to fund the initial establishment of the school in 1985 and has stayed in close touch with grants and support ever since.

Since 2008 it has a brand new building and an exciting new farm working to restore the depleted local ecology.

John added: “This is quite an achievement in a military dictatorship.”

The Coach House’s commitment to fair trade has led to the establishment of a sister company, Just Trading Scotland, with a warehouse in Paisley which imports jams and sauces from Swaziland and kilombero rice and lentils from Malawi. They are hoping to celebrate their first 100 tonnes of rice sold this coming Fairtrade Fortnight (February 25 to March 10).

The refurbished Balmore Coach House shop opens for the new season with a much bigger range of speciality foods and kitchen and table ware and Glasgow’s first fair trade deli.

The cafe will offer a chance to try out some of the new products and there will be an exhibition of prints of the Baldernock area by local artist, Ruth Tillyard.