Coinciding with the official Christmas Lights switch-on in Stornoway, a number of local charities benefitted from payments from Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery.
The Western Isles Lottery Team had been busy preparing for the Festive Light Displays which they have funded and managed over the last five years.
Yet again, the annual Christmas Light Switch-on Event had to be cancelled because of fears about the Covid-19 pandemic – and even the small-scale outdoor beside the Christmas commemorative structure in Perceval Square was cancelled because of Storm Arwen.
As part of the planning, WILL found themselves in a position to award a variety of local groups funding to support their respective organisations and arranged surprise presentations to mark this year’s Switch-on.
For instance, a plea was made to WILL for funding to brighten up the outdoor garden area of the Solas Centre on Westview Terrace in Stornoway.
Because of the current COVID regulations, those attending the Day Centre will not be able to experience the pleasure of indoor decorations. However, they have an outdoor garden area with fencing, a pergola and a large tree which could accommodate LED battery operated lighting.
The Lottery Team were asked if they could sprinkle any magic as a little surprise and they gladly obliged, so both staff and visitors can join in the festivities.
Karen Markey, fundraiser for Alzheimers Western Isles, was grateful to receive a cheque for £100 to purchase the lights.
Another award of £500 went to Autism Eileanan Siar. Donna Shearsmith, Chair of Autism Eileanan Siar said “The children's side of our organisation is well established but with the restrictions over the last year we have been unable to achieve this with adults.
“We are in the early stages of getting this up and running and these welcome monies received will go towards supporting adults with autism and additional needs. It is the charity's aim to support all local individuals and the monies received will greatly help to achieve this.
“We hope, with feedback from adults from a drop-in session held on 26th November we can set up something similar to the support we offer to children and their families.
At Friday afternoon’s presentations, Lynne Smith from Autism Eileanan Siar was presented with the award from the Western Isles Lottery Team.
Another beneficiary was Angus Macdonald representing Cycling Without Age (Lewis & Harris Branch) which was receiving an award of £500.
Cycling Without Age is a transformational project which brings the elderly population closer to the outdoor environment through the power of cycling.
The movement started in 2012 in Denmark by two friends who wanted to help the elderly get back onto their bicycles but needed to find a solution to overcome their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw, a three wheeled bike with a front carriage for carrying passengers. Initially, free rides to local nursing home residents were offered…and the rest is history!
Cycling Without Age Lewis and Harris was set up and has been raising funds since summer 2021. The initial focus is to bring a permanent Trishaw to both Stornoway and Tarbert. So far the group have raised around £5,000 towards their target of £17,000 being the cost of two bespoke Trishaws, with support coming from the Lewis and Harris Sports Council and councillors from the Stornoway area.
Matthew Logan, a member of CWAS Lewis and Harris said “A huge thank you goes to the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery for their generous donation towards the project. Support like this is so important for us to get set up and to start helping to connect our elderly community members with the great outdoors! Thanks go to WILL for their generosity from everyone at CWAS Lewis and Harris.”
Members from the CWAS Team will be out and about in Perceval Square between 12pm and 4pm on Saturday December 4 to let people know what the project is about and give some Trishaw test rides!
The group have also set up a PayPal page to enable public donations and encourage anyone who believes in the project to give what they can!
Janet Paterson of Western Isles Lottery said “It’s just great seeing the fruits of everyone’s efforts coming together right across our Islands to light up what would otherwise be a dark and dismal winter, especially for residents, but also for all the visitors who come at this time of the year. Without the continued support of our local Lottery, this simply couldn’t happen and we genuinely thank everyone who has joined in.
"To date, £280,000 has been distributed across all communities and £140,000 has been won in weekly cash & Voucher prizes. That’s a total of £420,000 – so it’s a Win-Win for everyone."
Tony Robson, Chair, said “We give special thanks to ACE Electrical Services and MacMillan Engineering for all their hard work. Thanks also go to Gordon Diesel Engineering and to CNES and The Stornoway Trust who fully supported the projects. A big thank you to all our local lottery supporters, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
WILL team, in photographs, from right, Tony Robson, Cally and Janet Paterson, Emma Henderson, and Charlie Nicolson.