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Caithness reindeer centre is set for Christmas

By Gregor White

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Two of the resident reindeer who are attracting visitors to Lichen Caithness.
Two of the resident reindeer who are attracting visitors to Lichen Caithness.

The owners of a Caithness reindeer centre have thanked a business advisory centre for helping them get the operation off the ground.

Lichen Caithness is home to Sven, Levvi and Mr Antlers, the UK’s most northerly reindeer according to owners of the Halkirk attraction.

The furry residents are the stars of the centre’s daily reindeer experiences, which give visitors the chance to learn about the reindeer habitat, food sources, and climate-specific adaptations.

Visitors to the centre can also feed the hoofed inhabitants with reindeer moss, as well as being able to enjoy a deluxe hot chocolate with marshmallows toasted over a fire or in a Nordic-style Kota hut.

Husband and wife Chris and Elizabeth Irwin spotted an opportunity to open a reindeer centre after considering the idea for almost 20 years and approached advisory centre Business Gateway in June, with a vision to bring the animals to the local area.

Among the help they provided was one-to-one guidance from a dedicated business adviser and advice on their business plan, marketing and digital support to develop a strong social media strategy.

Funding support came from Highland Council’s Business Growth Grant and the Caithness Business Fund.

Since June the centre’s Facebook followers have grown to 1700, with social posts reaching around 35,000 people per month.

Lichen Caithness opened in August and is now in full swing as the festive season gets under way.

Mr Irwin said: “Both the support from Business Gateway Highland and the start-up grant have benefitted us massively.

“We’ll continue to work with local providers to promote our beautiful centre, and we look forward to continuing to work with Business Gateway Highland as the business continues to grow.”

Jennifer Irvine, Business Gateway Highland adviser, said: “It’s been fantastic to support Chris and Elizabeth this year, and to see just how well received the reindeer centre has been with locals and tourists alike.”

“Like many others, I’m very much looking forward to visiting the beautiful reindeer this Christmas and in years to come.”

Info on Business Gateway: https://bgateway.com

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