A RETIRED Peeblesshire man has been forced to fork out more than £2,000 to quarantine in a hotel after travel restrictions changed midway through a trip abroad.

But Denis Robson, 71, says he has "no regrets" about making the journey to Malawi – which was placed on the UK 'red list' six days into his visit.

The Rotarian travelled to the African country as part of a twinning partnership between Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair and the Rotary Club of Limbe.

Mr Robson told the Peeblesshire News: “Despite being forced into 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at Edinburgh Airport at my own expense I have no regrets as the visit was really important to maintain the close relationship between our two communities and build a platform for new programmes for the future.

“There was a need for a visit to Malawi as it had been two years since last we visited due to the pandemic. The Innerleithen partnership with a Malawian village Thondwe involves several organisations including ITW Church of Scotland, St Ronan's Primary school, St Ronan's Health centre and IWT Rotary Club.

“Each organisation is involved in a different project, and it was necessary to make the visit to review the 2021 activities and explore plans for 2022 and beyond."

The communities have a long-standing association started by the Church of Scotland 12 years ago which now involves the Peeblesshire community including St Ronan's Primary school, St Ronan's Health centre and several businesses.

Mr Robson has been a regular visitor to Malawi, known as the Warm Heart of Africa, but the pandemic meant that no one from the partnership has been able to visit.

After travel restrictions eased the 71-year-old returned to review previous activities and to plan for the future in addition to presenting a much-needed new incinerator to the local primary school.

“During the visit a hand over ceremony was organised for a new incinerator funded by IWT Rotary and partners that was required to replace one that had become a health hazard," he said.

“Discussions took place with the headteacher Annie Siyani to further develop the Rotary library and teacher houses to introduce improved solar systems and more books for the curriculum.

“Thondwe CCAP Church is a key partner and received a mountain bike for pastoral visits that was funded by a Bikers Breakfast in ITW Church grounds during the Enduro World Series event in September."

However, six days into the trip the regulations changed following the emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa, and Malawi was one of six countries immediately placed on the UK Government’s red list.

Mr Robson tested negative for COVID before flying back to Scotland then tested negative again back in Edinburgh but still had to quarantine at the Holiday Inn Express near Edinburgh Airport for 11 days.

It costs a total of £2,285 to quarantine in the hotel, which includes PCR tests and food.

He has one more test to take and all being well will be able to return home on Sunday.