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Now that the masks are off, the pace is picking up with fundraising for the Isle of Berneray’s premier entertainment centre - Berneray Community Hall.

The hall is in desperate need of a new roof, with a 40-year-old original which was designed to last no more than 25 years.

And despite patching up and imaginative solutions to the leaky roof covering, there’s now nothing for it but to strip it off and start again.

On Friday night (6 May) one of the first communal events for two years, a silly games evening, raised over £320 towards the £100,000 needed to get the job done.

It would seem an unachievable amount for such a small community, were it not for excellent news from grant-funders like Western Isles Development Trust, who announced on Monday (2 May) that they had set aside £10,000 for Berneray Community Association’s plan to future-proof the hall.

In total, the fund has already raised almost £55k, thanks to efforts made by the community association and supporters from far afield.

A crowd-funder launched in February set - and reached - a target of £10k and, since Covid restrictions began to ease, fund-raising events like table-top sales and a 10k run have helped to boost the total.

A spokesperson for Berneray Community Association said: “We're sure many of you have memories that were made in Berneray Community Hall.

“During Berneray Week the Hall serves as a hub for many different activities, including our quiz nights, treasure hunts, concerts and infamous dances. These are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and those with connections to the island ensure their return visits coincide with the celebrations.

“Outside of tourist season, the hall is somewhere for us to gather together when it's dark and wild outside, most notably at our annual Christmas dinner and ceilidh.  

“It has been tricky to start and navigate this fundraising effort during Covid and even more so during a period of elevated cases in the Western Isles which has meant a pause in our efforts.

“We want to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped us so far by sharing, donating, attending events and spreading the word.”

Those who are making donations are also sharing memories of their happy times inside the community hall at the heart of Berneray’s machair.

Thay said: “A great cause. The community hall was a place I made a lot of childhood memories with my gaga when she would take us to a ceilidh” and “This is obviously a big target for such a small community. I hope that all the people who have visited and come to appreciate and love the island will step up to support you.”

The next event in Berneray’s roof-raising programme is an old-fashioned ceilidh in the hall on Friday 13 May and the crowd-funder is still open for donations at  https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/new-roof-berneray-community-hall#start

Pictures show past and recent events in the hall and desperate measures taken to protect the interior from the leaky roof