A big thank you from Sollas

THE North Uist community of Sollas was celebrating their win of £60,000 from the Jubilee People’s Millions at the weekend which will bring new life to the old Dunskellar School.

As communities across the Western Isles watched many schools close their doors for the last time at the end of last week, the success story in Sollas will surely bring hope that these buildings can continue to remain part of community life.

Taigh Sgire Sholais was set up to take forward a project to renovate the building into a community hall which was fit for purpose.

Having closed in 2002, the building was gifted to the community in 2004 but was in a desperate state of disrepair.

The community first raised £17,000 to repair the roof of the building but needed more funds to continue with the project to carry out extensive repairs and alterations at an estimated cost of £120,000.

A significant part of the expense will be the provision of thermal insulation and an efficient air sourced heat pump for heating the building as the cost of heating had been a huge drain on the funds raised.

With local fundraising over the last seven years and with assistance from Community Energy Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean siar and HIE, the community had secured half the cash needed.

The remaining £60,000 from the People’s Millions is such a relief to the committee.

Douglas Hatton from the committee said: “Of course there is a lot of delight and satisfaction here that we won the money we need to finish our project.  The party has still to take place.

“I think everyone was exhausted after last Wednesday as it was a huge effort to contact all the people who might vote for us and who could help spread the message. 

“After we caught up on some sleep we found we had so many people to thank,  some we did not even know but who had voted for us. I have certainly enjoyed being able to thank everyone who helped us. There is a buzz about the place right now.”