New dawn for Scalpay area as community shop opens

STV's Norman Macleod had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open the community shop on his native Scalpay. SGD 24661
STV's Norman Macleod had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open the community shop on his native Scalpay. SGD 24661

STV news anchorman, and Scalpay native, Norman Macleod cut the ribbon to officially open the new Scalpay Community Shop at the weekend and admitted his hope is that the island is on the threshold of an exciting new dawn.

More than 100 local residents and well-wishers packed the street outside the shop on Scalpay as Mr Macleod opened the locally-run shop which has been taken over by community co-operative Buth Sgalpaigh Ltd.

And now Mr Macleod has revealed his hopes for the future of Scalpay after a difficult time.

He said: “It was a great turnout for the shop and I think the numbers show there is a lot of support for this community initiative. It has apparently been going very well since it started trading but like any new venture there were some difficulties at the start. But once these were ironed out and they got on the straight and narrow it was fine.

“There is also a fantastic café there as well as the shop. It is also visitors to the island, as well as local people, who are using it.

“I think it was something Scalpay needed and it’s a focus point now for a place which has taken a few blows over the past few years with the school closing and losing the fish factory.

“There was nowhere really for people to meet and apart from church there was nowhere for them to meet.

“Let’s hope this is the start of a new beginning for the island and this is the first step forward. Now it’s down to people starting to work together to move forward as Scalpay has been on the edge for far too long now and it’s time to move back from the edge.”

Morag Macleod, Secretary of Buth Sgalpaigh Ltd, added: “There is sense of pride and gratitude more than anything today as so many people have helped. Something like this doesn’t happen with one person and it is wonderful. It has been a long journey and we had some difficulties and it has been a very steep learning curve.

“It has been wonderful to see so many people here today as we didn’t know who would come along and its very gratifying.

“People are using the shop and the café and its become a meeting place and has been used for notices too. I think it could become a central point for people on the island.”

Also in attendance at the official opening was Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan who commented: “The community on Scalpay has put a great deal of effort into establishing a community-owned shop and making it a success.

“This is providing a useful facility including a café, all of which helps sustain this island. The official opening of the shop by STV presenter and (and native of Scalpay) Norman MacLeod was also a chance to see a film about Scalpay’s history, a community which incredibly once sustained a dozen shops.

“This is an exciting time for Scalpay following the referendum on community ownership for the island itself. All of these enterprises show real innovation on the part of the people of Scalpay and are a positive sign for the future. It is interesting to hear that other island communities, such as Jura, are thinking of using the community owned model for their own local shop. It was great to be at this event and I wish the shop every success for the future.”