STAFF at the Western Isles Island Games Association (WIIGA) are celebrating after winning thousands of pounds to boost sporting participation among young people ahead of the 2013 Games in Bermuda.
The WIIGA – which is based at the Lewis Sports Centre in Stornoway – has been handed £5,000 by Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund after topping a public vote organised by the bank.
The sports association beat off stiff competition from community groups across the region to land the prize.
The Western Isles have competed in every edition of the international, multi-sport Island Games since 2005 and hope to better their tally of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals from the Isle of Wight Games in 2011.
WIIGA sends teams to compete on the Scottish mainland and in England to encourage young people to get involved and represent their island in the Games, which sees sportsmen and women from 24 island groups across the world pitting their skills against each other.
And sports development officer Steven Munro said he was thrilled the public had thrown their weight behind the Games, with the money used to get more people involved in a range of sports.
“It’s a big boost for us and a big surprise, being an island association detached from the mainland we didn’t think our chances of winning would be that high,” he said.
“Looking ahead to Bermuda we are all very excited about competing out there and we are currently in the preparation stage of that event.
“If we can equal or better our medal tally it will be a fantastic achievement.
“But the other side to the fund is that we can help other people continue their involvement with sport across the islands – with 14 different sports offered there’s plenty for everyone so hopefully this will stand us in good stead for that.”
More than 200,000 people across the UK took part in a public vote online and at Olympic Torch Relay celebrations between May and September to select the charities they wanted to receive the cash, part of £660,000 Lloyds is investing through the Community Fund.
In total, 132 projects are set to receive £5,000 as part of the Lloyds Banking Group campaign and Community and Sustainable Business Director Paul Turner added: “Becoming the best bank for customers means being the best bank for our communities.
“The Community Fund highlights the Group’s ongoing commitment to the communities we serve and doing more to help Britain prosper.
“We are proud to be able to help WIIGA continue the great work they are doing in the Western Isles and we look forward to seeing the difference the award will make.”
Lloyds Banking Group, the largest financial services investor in UK communities, has provided funding to 132 organisations around the UK through its Community Fund in 2012. To find out more about the Group’s community investment, visit www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/community