Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust has stepped in at the eleventh hour with funding for a permanent wreath to be laid in memory of the Iolaire.
A granite poppy sculpture has been commissioned for the Garrabost War Memorial Gardens and is to be placed under the Iolaire memorial plaque, which bears the names of the men from the district who were lost.
Point War Memorial Committee and arranged Point and Sandwick Trust for help with the costs. The committee had only been looking for a contribution so were left stunned when Point and Sandwick Trust offered to pay the whole costs of the project.
The sculpture, which is coming from the mainland, is costing around £2,200.
For Point and Sandwick Trust, it was one last act of support to close a year that has seen them fund a variety of commemorative projects on the Iolaire.
First, the community wind farm charity gave £10,000 to Acair to help with the costs of producing the very special hardback The Darkest Dawn, written by Malcolm Macdonald and the late Donald John Macleod.
Point and Sandwick Trust also gave a £5,000 contribution to An Lanntair for the new memorial at the site at the Beasts of Holm.
They also gave £8,000 for arts events related to the Sandwick Hall Iolaire Exhibition and they helped to organise the planting of 201 trees near the War Memorial in Stornoway, as a special ‘living memorial’ to those who died in the Iolaire.
At the time of the planting, Angus McCormack, Point and Sandwick Trust’s Honorary President, spoke of how “proud’ PST was to be associated with the commemoration.
When the actual anniversary of the tragedy comes at the turn of the year, Point and Sandwick Trust will also light up red again – just as they did on Remembrance Day, when they took part in Poppy Scotland’s ‘Light Up Red’ campaign.
The three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag and the Old Knock School – where Point and Sandwick Trust’s offices are located – were the only two sites in the Outer Hebrides which turned red for the Poppy Scotland campaign and the Trust has decided to repeat this for the Iolaire.
The Christmas lights will be turned off at the Old Knock School, also home to Buth an Rubha and Cafe Roo, from December 31 and the building and wind farm will remain red until January 2.
It is expected that the granite poppy sculpture will arrive around the same time and there will be a dedication ceremony in the Garrabost War Memorial Gardens as soon as possible afterwards.
John Murdo Nicolson, Treasurer of Point War Memorial Committee, said the decision to organise the granite poppy had been taken relatively late in the year – and had been designed, to a certain extent, by the committee themselves. It will be a poppy sculpted out of a granite slab and then coloured. It will bear two words: “Mar Cuimhneachan” (In Remembrance).
John said: “It will be a permanent remembrance for the Iolaire, under the names.” He said they were not too worried about it arriving after the anniversary, “because we know there’s a lot going on”, adding: “We’re going to have our own wee dedicated ceremony”.
Point and Sandwick Trust confirmed they would fund it the week before Christmas.
John said: “I went to them to ask for a donation to help us along with it but in their generous spirit they decided to fund it all, which has taken us aback a wee bit but we’re really pleased about it.
“That’s what Point and Sandwick Trust do to the community and people don’t realise how much they do for people. It’s a great, great help. We certainly didn’t expect it but we’re very grateful for it and at such short notice as well. We really appreciate it very much.”
He explained the Point War Memorial Committee’s thoughts behind it.
“We have a plaque in the War Memorial anyway for the Iolaire, but seeing it was the 100th anniversary we felt we had to do something. It’s a permanent wreath, that will always be there.”
Donald John MacSween said: “Point and Sandwick Trust were delighted to help the Garrabost War Memorial Gardens committee by meeting the cost of their Iolaire memorial plaque. The memorial and gardens have been well kept and looked after by a small dedicated group who also organise a well attended annual Armistice Service in the adjacent Church of Scotland.”