Celebrations to mark 30 years of Bun Sgoil Shlèite

Celebrations are to be held this weekend to mark the 30th anniversary of Bun Sgoil Shlèite in south Skye.

Some of the former Bun Sgoil Shlèite pupils who have children attending the school. Stuart Shone with Alastair; Kirsteen McGonagall and Morag; Kathryn MacKay and Cara-Marie; Lorraine MacKinnon and Emma Ceit; Rhona Mahon and Eva; Norma MacPherson and Dylan; Emma Micski and Lachlan; and Kenneth MacAskill with Cailean.

Some of the former Bun Sgoil Shlèite pupils who have children attending the school. Stuart Shone with Alastair; Kirsteen McGonagall and Morag; Kathryn MacKay and Cara-Marie; Lorraine MacKinnon and Emma Ceit; Rhona Mahon and Eva; Norma MacPherson and Dylan; Emma Micski and Lachlan; and Kenneth MacAskill with Cailean.

On Saturday past and present pupils, parents and friends of the school will gather for an anniversary concert featuring many who have come through the school doors over the years.

A small exhibition of old photos — which will be projected when people are performing — will also jog the memories for those involved. The concert, at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, will be followed by a “school disco” to the sounds of three decades worth of music. Proceeds from the celebrations will raise funds for a commemorative mural for the school.

Ahead of the celebrations, the school’s first headmaster, William Wattie, paid tribute to the parent-led campaign which secured the new building to replace the ageing school at Ferrindonald.

“Allan Campbell,  Donnie MacKinnon (sometime of the petrol pumps), Duncan MacInnes, and many other parents put their heads together and came up with a detailed report on the state of the school buildings and facilities,” he recalled. “As a result of their petition an education official called Alan Gilchrist  (later to be director of education in the Highland region) came to address the parents one dark night in the Portakabin behind the old school buildings. He brought with him plans of the new Kyleakin school to show the audience. The outcome of this meeting was that either the parents accept an additional Portakabin or hold out for a completely new school facility.

“The parents chose the latter option, though as head teacher I wasn’t sure whether they’d have to wait years to get a new school building.

“However, and beyond my wildest dreams, things moved quickly. I believe that Lord Macdonald had donated the site at Kilbeg and in no time at all site clearance was started and the first works started on a completely new school for Sleat.”

Shortly after the new school opened Mr Wattie left to take up a post in Thurso, before moving to Stornoway Primary and latterly to James Gillespie’s in Edinburgh.

A Sleat school football team from the 1980s

A Sleat school football team from the 1980s

He added: “My Sleat years were very special indeed and when I look back on my teaching career these were my happiest years. I absolutely loved working in Ferrindonald School and was very lucky to be involved in the planning and eventually in the move to the new premises at Kilbeg way back in October 1983.

“It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since the kids arrived, excited, at Kilbeg on that dark October morning. However, it’s wonderful to know that the school is still there, thriving and developing in so many ways, and will continue to do so for years and years to come.”

This Saturday’s concert starts at 7pm in Sabhal Mòr’s Talla Donnaidh Caimbeul, with the disco  afterwards in the Talla Mhòr.