Local heroes from Skye and Ullapool recognised at Holyrood

Local heroes from Skye and Ullapool were amongst those recognised at the Scottish Parliament last weekend.

As part of the official opening ceremony for the new Scottish Parliament session every MSP nominated a ‘local hero’ to participate in the event in recognition of the important contribution they have made to the lives of other people.

Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd from Ullapool was accompanied by Sandy MacKenzie on behalf of the community owned hydro scheme, BroomPower, while  Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes welcomed Skye Mountain Rescue team leader Gerry Akroyd.

Sandy is one of the two board members that sits on both Lochbroom Community Renewables Ltd (BroomPower) and Ullapool Community Trust. Ms Todd said: “I was delighted to welcome Sandy MacKenzie from Ullapool to the Scottish Parliament on Saturday. Sandy is one from a group of volunteers from the Lochbroom area who have worked tirelessly to get a community owned hydro scheme, BroomPower, off the ground. It will put over half a million into community projects in the Lochbroom area over the next twenty years and will still be producing income for 20 years beyond that as electricity will continue to be generated and sold to the grid.

“I was also delighted to introduce Sandy to the Scottish Government minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP. BroomPower epitomises what the SNP Scottish Government are aiming to achieve — green energy and strong communities.”

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, innovation and energy, Maree Todd MSP and Sandy MacKenzie
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for business, innovation and energy, Maree Todd MSP and Sandy MacKenzie

Mr Akroyd (71) has been head of the Skye Mountain Rescue team for over 40 years and was nominated by several local residents as their local hero. An experienced mountain guide, Mr Akroyd began climbing at the age of 16 and first visited the Cuillins in the summer of 1962 before moving to the island 10 years later.

Gerry Akroyd

Miss Forbes said:  “Volunteers, and it’s important to remember that the mountain rescue teams are volunteers, go out in all weathers whenever the call goes out. Mountain rescue teams in Glencoe, Lochaber, Cairngorms and Skye sacrifice their own time, energy and comfort. We have fantastic terrain in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch that attracts thousands of climbers and walkers every year, most of whom come to no harm.

“In the unfortunate cases where rescues and searches are required, it’s a blessing to have the ready, sacrificial dedication of the mountain reduce teams. That’s why I invited Gerry, in recognition of the work of the mountain rescue teams across my constituency, and it was a pleasure to welcome him to the Parliament.”

As well as joining 2,000 people taking part in The Ridings down the capital’s Royal Mile, Mr Akroyd and Mr MacKenzie were present as the Queen addressed MSPs in the Holyrood chamber.