A schoolgirl is desperately trying to help her distraught grandparents after they were told they had two months to leave their farm cottage home of 21 years.
Braes High pupil Lottie Jeffrey was left dejected when she learned Shiela and Malcolm Heath, both 72, had been issued with the fully legal notice by their landlord in late September which stated a young farmer would be moving into the property at Glen Farm with his family on December 1.
Terrfied by the prospect of her gran and grandad, who suffers from mobility issues, being left homeless just weeks before Christmas, the determined 15-year-old has vowed to fight their corner.
The Brightons teenager is all too aware of the difficulties her grandparents face as their search goes on for a single-storey in the area that will suit the needs of Malcolm, who requires knee replacements and is unable to use stairs.
To make matters worse, the pensioners have started searching for a new home as far away as the Borders due to a lack of local alternatives which would also allow them to keep their pet dog, Lucy.
It’s a thought Lottie and her mum Sally, Shiela and Malcolm’s daughter, dread.
Originally from Portsmouth, the Heaths moved to live in the area from a farm in Moodiesburn, North Lanarkshire.
Since settling in Glen Farm, the couple, who have been married for 51 years, have regularly shelled out cash to improve the property and spent £6000 on a wet room three years ago.
Over the years Shiela and Malcolm have also paid for new guttering, double glazing, cavity walls, a boiler, a bathroom and a conservatory.
Keen gardener Shiela is also renowned in the area for her work on the outside of the property, which often brings positive comments from visitors to The Milk Barn as they pass by.
All of the time, effort and money her grandparents have put into ensuring the cottage looks the best it possibly can mean it will be a huge wrench for Lottie to see them leave.
Describing the situation as “an incredible shock”, she told The Falkirk Herald: “My grandparents are extremely distressed as finding a property that meets all their needs in such a short space of time is proving difficult.
“They have done an amazing job at making their home look presentable and have put so much into their property, adding to its value.
“They often have many compliments from those visiting the cafe and my gran is always happy to chat anything gardening with those who chap her door looking for advice. They are struggling to cope with the uncertainty of not knowing if they will have a place to stay come December.”
Lottie has had to watch as her grandparents make peace with the fact they’ll soon be moving out.
The timing of the announcement has been a tough blow for her to take.
Lottie said: “It’s not fair they should have to settle for less than what they’ve got. Why should they sacrifice a garden or having their dog?”
Admiring the efforts of her granddaughter, Shiela said: “She comes in handy for us. We want to stay in the area to watch Lottie growing up.”
Farmer Robert Reid (73), the Heaths’ landlord, said he decided to move the worker in as he is “no longer fit” to carry out calving work.
He explained: “Our milk buyer requires a level supply of milk all year which means we have to calve four to five cows per week. Someone has to be looking after these cows before, during and after calving.
“We have been fortunate to employ a young dairy farmer’s son with the required experience. A condition of his employment is that he lives in the tied cottage close to the animals he will be looking after.”