Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (UOG) announced a milestone at its annual general meeting on Tuesday November 21 as its Community Investment Fund surpassed £500,000 in grants awarded.
Established in 2014 to channel proceeds from UOG's renewable energy ventures back into the Galson Estate community, the fund has now donated £509,786 into areas such as health improvement, poverty relief, and environmental conservation.
In 2023, awardees have included Falmadair Trust (£13,775), Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band (£10,000), Western Isles Island Games Association (£8,000), and Ness F.C. (£7,160).
There were also grants to Carthannas Nis (£2,000), and both Lionel School and Sgoil an Taobh Siar (£2,000 each), amongst others.
As well as the announcement of the grants, the AGM came with a big reveal: the design for the 'na Dorsan' monument to be erected next year.
Commemorating the centenary of the Galson land resettlement following land clearances across North Lewis, the monument has been designed by Will Maclean and Marian Leven, who also created the Iolaire and Sùileachan memorials.
The project is a collaboration between UOG, Airidhantuim Community Council, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, and Galson Grazing Committee.
The monument design was not alone in special events at the AGM, as Alex MacKenzie, Local Food Development Manager at Tagsa Uibhist, also provided a talk. Alex had been in Lewis to host a workshop at UOG on local food systems on Tuesday afternoon.
Financial and infrastructure matters discussed at the meeting included possible long-term sustainable projects to supersede UOG's turbines, which are eight years through their 20 year life cycle. Options currently being considered are repowering the turbines, and a new wind project on Barvas moor.
There was also information presented on current and future projects, such as cooperation with the Hebridean Housing Partnership on a project in Upper Barvas; the wide range of cost of living support provided by UOG, such as the provision of shop vouchers, heated blankets, and nappies; and plans to expand tourism related projects, with excursion package proposals having been submitted to cruise line excursion operators in advance of the Stornoway Deep Water Terminal.
The AGM was led by Agnes Rennie, Chair of UOG, and included reports from Jemma Macvicar, Executive Manager of UOG, and John Moffat of accounting firm Mann Judd Gordon. An exhibition of boards outlining projects UOG is undertaking, with staff on hand to explain the work, was also provided.
Documents relating to UOG AGMs are posted on the trust's website once they have been approved.