A North Yorkshire couple who are lifelong fans of Whisky Galore have bought the only post office on the remote Hebridean island of Barra, where the film was shot, with support from Clydesdale Bank.
Chris (46) and Diane Dillerstone (53) take over the business on Monday March 16. The couple have been holidaying in the Highlands for years, with Diane first visiting Barra 30 years ago after watching Whisky Galore. The Ealing comedy, inspired by the Compton MacKenzie novel about a group of Scottish islanders who raided a shipwreck for its consignment of Scotch, was set in Eriskay but filmed on location in Barra in 1948.
When Chris, formerly an accountant, was made redundant last year the pair decided to start their own business. A search of post offices for sale revealed that the Castlebay branch was on the market. They travelled to the island in July 2014 to view the post office and begin the process of acquiring the business. Less than six months later, in December 2014, they moved from their home near Selby to live full-time on Barra.
The couple plan to convert the unused shop space in the post office, which is located close to the ferry terminal, to incorporate a tea room – named Macroons after the postmaster in Whisky Galore – and eventually hope to create a self-catering apartment in the building’s loft.
Chris and Diane, who purchased the business for a six figure sum, received a substantial funding package from Clydesdale Bank to acquire the business as well as investing their life savings. The deal was delivered by Chris Rennie, Business Development Manager within Clydesdale Bank’s specialist service for start-ups and small businesses, Business Direct.
Chris Dillerstone said: “We’re extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Clydesdale Bank to give Castlebay post office a new lease of life. It is already a lifeline for the local community, who draw their pensions, license their vehicles and pay their bills at the branch, but we want to expand the business to become a visitor attraction. Our tea room will be named Macroons after the postmaster in Whisky Galore, which was filmed on the island.
“We’re really enjoying our life here on Barra. We lived in a rural location in Yorkshire but this is completely different.
“There’s no cricket and no Yorkshire beer, but you can’t have everything.”
Chris Rennie, Business Development Manager at Clydesdale Bank’s Business Direct service, said: “Clydesdale Bank’s Business Direct service is dedicated to helping small businesses.
“It’s always a pleasure to help people become self-employed but it has been especially rewarding to work with Chris and Diane, who as a result of our support are now living their dream.
“We are continuing to work in partnership with Chris and Diane to assist their expansion plans.
“Clydesdale Bank understands the importance of the Post Office network and our customers can carry out their day-to-day banking transactions at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK.”
Business Direct offers free business banking for two years to start ups and 18 months to established small businesses with a turnover of under £2 million. See http://www.cbonline.co.uk/ or contact your local branch.