Stornoway Port Authority is looking for more good causes to support after providing a £20,000 cash boost to community groups involved with young people and the marine environment.
The Authority set up a Community Assistance Fund in 2017 to primarily assist with the development of local youth groups with a particular emphasis on the marine environment and has since provided a series of grants to organisations in Lewis and Harris.
It is now preparing a new round of awards, with a deadline of 12 April for applications.
Stornoway Port Authority has legal status as a Trust Port which means any profits from its activities are reinvested in the port for the benefit of users.
The Authority’s Chairman, Murdo Murray said: “The Community Assistance Fund has already distributed £20,000 to help a number of local groups who are doing important development work in the community. Our next round of grants will assist many more organisations with important local projects.
“We take our role in the community very seriously and by adopting this good practice we can assist positive local developments.
“We aim to support as many groups as possible and perhaps facilitate some projects that would otherwise not proceed.”
Among the groups to benefit from the fund is the Falmadair Trust which maintains and sails a number of historic boats, including the sgoth Niseach (Ness skiff) ‘Jubilee’. It was built in 1934 by John Finlay Macleod, the man who swam ashore with a rope from the stricken ‘Iolaire’ on 1 January 1919 during one of the worst maritime tragedies in UK waters.
The trust has bought vital safety equipment with assistance from the Community Assistance Fund.
John Smith, Chair of the Falmadair Trust, said: “We are very grateful to the Stornoway Port Authority Community Assistance Fund for the donation of vital safety equipment, and we also thank the staff and board members of the Port Authority for their ongoing support.
“This allows us to concentrate our own limited resources on sailing and maintaining our historic local boats and ensuring that our maritime heritage is passed on to the next generation. We are also grateful to the many local volunteers who are very generous in sharing their skills, time and knowledge in relation to the sgoth Niseach.”
The ‘Jubilee’ is the last surviving example of a vessel built to take part in the once prosperous Hebridean line-fishing industry. The boat is also the last sail-powered vessel to have made the 80-mile round trip to Sula Sgeir rock for another Ness tradition, the annual guga hunt.
Following extensive renovations during 2005-06, ‘Jubilee’ now offers the public an opportunity to sail in a historic vessel.
Falmadair also looks after three other vessels passed to its care.
- An Sulaire (‘The Gannet’), built in 1994, is a replica of the full-sized sgoth Niseach.
- ‘Callicvol’ (named after the original name for the Port of Ness), was built in 1974 as a smaller version of the sgoth Niseach and after extensive renovations has been in regular use around Stornoway Harbour.
- ‘Broad Bay’, originally built in Orkney in 1912, was rebuilt in 2006.
Other groups that have been helped by the community assistance fund recently include Stornoway Sailing Club, which bought safety gear, and the Scout & Guide Hall in Stornoway which received help towards installing replacement windows in the important community building.
The Stornoway Amenity Trust was assisted in purchasing a commemorative bench as part of the Amenity Trust/Nicolson Institute Iolaire project; and Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (the Galson Estate Trust) used money from the fund to buy outdoor play equipment.
Groups wising to apply for a grant can download an application form from www.stornowayportauthority.com or obtain a hard copy from the authority’s office.
Photograph: Stornoway Port Authority board member John Nicolson (back, far left) and Falmadair Trust chair John Smith (back, far right) with members of the trust