THE sale of more than 300 handmade bird boxes has helped a grandad raise £7,500 in memory of his grandson, who died with a hole in his heart.

James Mcalpine has raised the cash for the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), which provides families with a comfortable home while their children are in hospital.

The wood for the bird boxes was donated by Treeline, at Baddinsgill, West Linton, from manufactured timber which is unsaleable due to knots.

About £3,000 of Mr Mcalpine’s total has come from selling the bird boxes at £10 each, with the rest raised from raffles and tombolas with the help of his granddaughter Alice, aged eight.

Mr Mcalpine, the Grand Master of The Lodge St John Kilwinning, Haddington, has had much support from his fellow masons.

East Lothian Courier: James Mcalpine and George Renton installing a bird box in the River Tyne valley, HaddingtonJames Mcalpine and George Renton installing a bird box in the River Tyne valley

Mr Mcalpine said: “We lost our three-and-a-half-year-old grandson, Owen.

“When he was being treated at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, my son and his wife, who live in Edinburgh, stayed in a Ronald McDonald House nearby.”

A Treeline spokesperson said: “Last year we had a member of the public reach out to us for timber to build bird boxes to raise money for a great cause.

“The bird boxes really look amazing, so we’re not surprised they’re snapped up so quickly.”

The Friends of the River Tyne in Haddington have purchased 10 boxes to put up in the valley.

An RMHC spokesperson said: “RMHC operates 14 houses across England, Wales and Scotland, providing free ‘home away from home’ accommodation.

“The houses keep families together, close to their children in hospital.

“They provide a place to sleep, cook and retain some sense of normal life; a lifeline for families at a very stressful time, especially when they are far from home.

“A house saves each family an average of £1,240 in out-of-pocket accommodation expenses.

East Lothian Courier: James Mcalpine and his grand-daughter Alice, 8, running a raffle for RMHCJames Mcalpine and his granddaughter Alice, eight, Owen's cousin, running a raffle for RMHC

“The purpose-built Edinburgh house is located within the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, and opened in 2021 with 25 ensuite bedrooms, a communal lounge, kitchens and a playroom for siblings and patients visiting on a medical pass.

“In 2023, the house accommodated 666 families, who stayed for an average of 12 nights.

“Families lived an average of 67 miles away from the hospital, saving them a significant amount of money in fuel and travel costs.”

Julia Coley, community fundraiser for RMHC UK, said: “Jim is one of our valued supporters and we couldn’t be more grateful for his latest fundraising initiative. He has kindly saved three of the bird boxes for families staying at the Edinburgh house to paint, which is a really thoughtful gesture.

“Through various fundraising activities, many of which have been supported by his young granddaughter, Jim has raised £7,500 for our charity, more than the £5,000 required to sponsor a bedroom in our Edinburgh house for a whole year.

“His dedication to raising money for our vital cause means more families can be together, and close to their sick child in hospital, and we cannot thank him enough.”