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A community share offer designed to expand the heritage work of the Seallam! cultural centre in Northton, Harris has reached its minimum target to proceed.

Northton Heritage Trust, which owns the existing visitor centre and genealogical research project, needed to raise a minimum of £75,000 in share capital to progress their ambitious plans for expansion and new services.

These included development of an enhanced exhibition space, a tea room, bigger bookshop, student accommodation and research facilities, as well as landscaping work to create an outdoor learning area where the natural history of the Hebrides would be brought to life.

When the deadline for the target passed on 27 May it was still uncertain whether the sum needed had been raised, but as of today (Thursday 9 June), the sum raised in share purchases stands at £86,000.

With an overall target of £100,000, the share offer remains open at for Harris enthusiasts and residents to add their contribution to the fund.

Northton Heritage Trust chair Rebecca Hutton said: “We’re very grateful indeed to everyone who has supported our share offer and delighted to announce that we have passed our minimum target of £75,000.

“We’re still open for further share purchases and we are keen to try and reach our original target of £100,000, but now that we have passed the minimum we are able to say that we will proceed with the development.

“People don’t need to make a huge contribution to be part of the future of Seallam – for Harris residents it is just £1 for a share. Residents elsewhere in the Western Isles will pay just £25 and from further afield a share costs £300.

“Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to one share, so Harris residents especially have a chance to really play a big part in this project going forward.

Seallam! Hebrides People Visitor Centre is a unique project which celebrates the culture and heritage of the people through their genealogical record, storytelling and history.

Bill and Chris Lawson began work developing the records over 40 years ago and they donated their life’s work 20 years ago when funding was secured to build the current visitor centre.

The trust is keen to engage both its local community (Isle of Harris) and the rest of the world, especially those with an interest or heritage in the islands, in this exciting development.

In December last year Northton Heritage Trust received £239,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase The Old School House and the three areas of land which will see extensions to the centre and car park.

The pictures show the Seallam! centre as it is today, and co-founder Bill Lawson in the old school house where the project started (Seallam!)