Dundee Courier Report 7th October 2013

A much-loved footbridge which was rebuilt by an Angus community was officially opened on Sunday.

Former joiner and fisherman Eric Duncan built “Eric’s Bridge” in East Haven more than a decade ago to give residents a means of crossing the local burn.

However, contractors removed the much-loved structure last year while building the new coastal path, leaving some locals feeling a piece of community history had been lost.

Members of the East Haven 800 group vowed to rebuild the popular structure ahead of the village’s 800th anniversary celebrations.

Resident Jack Scott led the project, which took approximately eight weeks, with farmer James Porter providing a vehicle to move the largest timbers into position.

People of all ages and abilities have been involved and despite being in his eighties and one of East Haven’s oldest residents, Eric was also able to participate.

Eric cut the ribbon and then took a walk across the new bridge, flanked by members of the local community.

Spokeswoman Wendy Murray said children and adults regarded Eric’s Bridge with great affection.

She said: “Some of us were not able to help with the physical work of the bridge but we supplied the workforce with coffee, cake and ice lollies to help keep the energy levels up.

“Sometimes, I felt as if I should be handing round the paracetamol too for the aches and pains, as it was tough going at times.

“The completed bridge is an inspiration and an example to all communities that they can achieve great things if they work together.”

Angus Council arranged for the contractors to supply a number of replacement timbers, BT stepped in to help with the provision of telegraph poles and MacKay’s boat builders provided rope.

Mr Scott said he always referred to the work sessions as “bridge parties”, with lots of good humour and plenty of banter. Jack kept everybody focused and he and Stan Beattie were meticulous in the way they carried out the project plan.

Stan said: “I have lived in East Haven for a long time but have got to know some of my neighbours a lot better by being involved in the bridge project, particularly in the East Haven 800 planning in general.”

Chairman of East Haven Residents’ Association Gordon Lumsdaine said the rebuilding of Eric’s Bridge is an example of what can be achieved when those who live in a community work together.

He said: “The residents had a vision of what they wanted to achieve and by combining skills and knowledge we were able to rebuild this wonderful bridge.

“We would like to think that it will be robust enough to last until East Haven 900 but even if it lasts for another few decades, we will be very happy.”

Local woman Ethel Aberdein said the original bridge had been much missed since it was accidently removed last year.

She said: “Children in particular used to love walking over the small rustic bridge to throw sticks into the water and watch them reappearing over the other side.

“My grandson will be delighted when he can start using the bridge again.”

Dareena Scott said: “I was able to supply the moral support and a little bit of labouring and feel pride that a small village community has achieved this.”