The festive spirit is strong in Point and Sandwick as the Christmas parties for social groups get into full swing – with photographer Sandie Maciver on hand to capture some of the action.
The parties are funded by an annual round of donations from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust, as part of their fight against social exclusion and isolation, and have been hailed a great success once again.
Most of the grants have gone to social groups for the over-60s, including Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall and Tiumpan Young at Heart club, but groups for the very young benefited too, with a grant going to Point Parent and Toddler Group for the second year running.
Other groups which also received festive grants included the Tiumpanhead Community Association, the SHARE (Sandwick Hall and Recreation Enterprise) Association and the ASK group, from Aignish, Swordale and Knock.
Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall and the Young at Heart club were among those out on the town in Stornoway last week. Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall went to the Boatshed at the Royal Hotel on Tuesday (December 10), while the Young at Hearts went to the Caberfeidh Hotel on Thursday (December 12).
Willie Munro, treasurer of the Cairdean, said it was an “absolutely magnificent” occasion, while Kenny Nicholson, chair of the Young at Hearts, said it was their “best yet”.
Meanwhile, Point Parent and Toddler Group held their Christmas party on Friday December 13 and covered the costs of buying a book and toy for the children, as well as the party food, with the Point and Sandwick Trust grant.
Since parents did not have to provide the party food themselves this year, they took the collective decision to give donations to the local food bank instead.
Catriona Dunn, chair of the group, said this showed how support from Point and Sandwick Trust was having a positive knock-on effect in the community.
She said: “We invited people who were coming to bring a donation for the food bank. That is the value added to the Point and Sandwick grant to us – that we’re able to pass it on – and the parents contributed a lot so we’re really grateful to them for that. I think it was such a good idea.”
Willie Munro, treasurer of the Cairdean, said the money from Point and Sandwick Trust had “helped enormously” and more than covered the costs of their meal at the Boatshed.
He said: “It was absolutely magnificent. It was on a par if not better than last year and the entertainment, from Iain MacKay, was good as well. A lot of our members are Gaelic speakers and Iain was singing Gaelic songs so they were fairly thumping their feet.
“It went down well and the meal was excellent.”
Willie said the support from Point and Sandwick Trust was “tremendous” and urged anyone over the age of 60 in the Point area – between Aignish and the Shulishader boundary – to come along and join the group for company and craic. They meet on the first Tuesday of every month in the Ionad Stoodie community centre at 2pm and always have a guest speaker.
The Young at Heart Club made the most of their night out, with an open bar as well as a meal at the Caberfeidh.
It also tied in with the 55th wedding anniversary of one of the couples in their group.
Their chair, Kenny Nicholson, said: “It was absolutely amazing and we tied it in with the wedding anniversary. There was a cake and everything made for them and they enjoyed it to the hilt.
“What a night we had! It was so encouraging because we had this money and nobody had to go in their pockets. Everyone really enjoyed it.”
Kenny said the whole occasion was a great success from start to finish, from the setting – “the best room in the Caber and the tables were set beautifully” – to the entertainment from John Murdo and Alex Murdo on the accordions.
Kenny added: “Everybody was over the moon. We couldn’t do it without Point and Sandwick Trust and from now on we’re going to be calling it The Point and Sandwick Christmas Do.
“Those 40 people were as happy as they’ve been all year. They were all at the hairdressers and getting their nails done! I spoke to one 90-year-old the week before and she said, ‘I’ve got my nails booked and my hair to do!’ It was so exciting for them and the best of gear comes out.
“It was just like old times and it makes them young again.”
Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are proud to be supporting a network of community groups who are delivering valuable social support to those at risk of social isolation, including the over 60s and parents of young children.
“These groups play such an important part in the health and happiness of a community and they can always count on support and encouragement from us at Point and Sandwick Trust.
“We’re very pleased the parties have been going so well and delighted to hear that our support has led, in turn, to support for the food bank. Well done to all those who keep these groups going, year round, and wish them all a very Merry Christmas from PST.”
Pictures from the Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall and Tiumpan Young at Heart parties by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotosredit if using).