Holding a barbecue in Stornoway in October…surely a triumph of hope over experience?  But yesterday it worked for the Western Isles Foyer project.

The official invitation did not downplay the risks – stating “Subject to weather conditions we are aiming to host an official gardening opening event, with inside/outside BBQ depending on the weather, to thank everyone who has been involved with the project (including volunteer team).”

But in blazing sunshine, people young and less-young gathered to mark the transformation of the land to the rear of the Foyer building at 36 Bayhead.

A major part of the event was presenting Ian Paul, the lead gardener on the project, with a Volunteer Centre Western Isles award in recognition of his outstanding voluntary contribution – and he also got to cut the ribbon to formally open the Foyer Oasis, an ideal location for a barbecue – with an area of stone chips, a lawn and flowers and shrubs in an extensive display. He was also presented with a Thank-You gift from Western Isles Foyer itself.

Ian put in excess of 400 volunteer hours in seeing the project through from beginning to end.

Previously there had been a polytunnel related to a former horticulture project and there were around 16 concrete bases on the site.

The whole lot had to be removed – and Ian, along with occasional additional labour, removed the original structure, and then as much as four tonnes of stone chips were moved on to the site.  Before that, three or four trailer-loads of rubbish were removed.  The entire area has been covered below the soil level with Terram to control the weeds

Organiser Rebecca Mahony said the event was being held to thank everyone involved in the project and “particularly Ian who has put in more than 400 hours helping us make this fantastic garden space.”

She added:"'Foyer wants to thank everyone who has contributed to the project, including all the volunteers and Tesco for donating over 400 plants and food for the barbeque".

Ian said: “I hope everyone enjoys it” and the gathering agreed they would. 

He explained how he became involved almost by chance after meeting with Rebecca at the nearby Catch-23 centre.  Originally, the plan was just to have a grass area but it evolved.  Now at the back of the garden there is a new plantation of foxgloves, daffodils, and bluebells.

Photographs below show the finished garden… and further below, what it was like to begin with.