South Skye community group nets £1.2 million lottery award

A South Skye community was celebrating this week after scooping a £1.2 million lottery grant to build a new community gathering space, hall and cafe.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the Big Lottery Fund confirmed it was to grant £1 million, the biggest award it can make to a community group, to the Camuscross and Duisdale Initiative. The group applied to the fund for help towards its ambitious project to build a “community hub” to offer vital services and facilities in the area. Not only did the lottery offer every penny they were asked for, but they also offered almost £200,000 of additional funds to help the project establish itself as a self-sustaining social enterprise.

The plans for the hub involve a fully-accessible gathering place with a hall, shop and cafe. The site earmarked for the development overlooks the Sound of Sleat, just off the main A851 Broadford-Armadale road. The total cost of the project, tipped to provide up to seven full-time equivalent jobs,  is  £1.8 million.

Mark Wringe, chairman of the Camuscross and Duisdale Initiative, said: “This is fantastic news. Getting this far is down to the hard work and dedication of a number of individuals within the community,  great advice from outside it, and an early announcement of support from Highland Council — plus architects who have been outstanding in working with the community.

“There is still a very significant amount of matching funding to be achieved from other sources, but it’s hugely significant that the Big Lottery has shown complete confidence in our ability and our plans. Their endorsement can only help our discussions with the other sources of funding.”

The lack of a focal point open to all ages and mobilities, and the loss some years ago of its shop, has been keenly felt in the Isleornsay, Duisdale and Camuscross area of Sleat. The range of facilities and design of the hub was chosen by the community through a series of local consultations. Letters of support came from a large range of local businesses and organisations. If all the bids succeed, the hub should open in 2016-17.

The project includes support for the Gaelic language, an outlet for produce from local crofts and year-round employment. Through a separate project, it is hoped that the hub building might be powered by a community hydro energy scheme.

An informal ceilidh to celebrate the news will be held in the Talla Dearg, Eilean Iarmain, from 6pm this Saturday.

Pictured celebrating are board members (left to right) Mark Wringe, Rory Flyn, David Ashford, Innes Grant and David Collins.